Lee’s Summit North coach Jamar Mozee wouldn’t blame all the ugliness on his players — and he didn’t shy away from pointing out who should share in it either.
The Broncos’ 14-7 win during Suburban Gold Conference action Friday at Lee’s Summit wasn’t pretty, not with a whopping 16 penalties for 140 yards, but North survived by capitalizing on two critical Tigers mistakes.
While clearly excited to beat Lee’s Summit for the first time since 2009 and move to 4-2 overall and 3-2 in conference play for the first time in school history, Mozee couldn’t hide his frustration with the officiating. Seven of the flags were for holding, which Mozee found especially puzzling.
“I’m not calling everything mistakes,” Mozee said. “Some of those calls … everything wasn’t a mistake. I’m going to stand up for my kids a little bit. I’d get it if that was an ongoing thing, but that hasn’t happened any other game.”
Lee’s Summit (2-4, 0-3 Suburban Gold) had its share of penalties and miscues as well, with six penalties for 65 yards in game that saw both teams struggle to find offensive rhythm.
Both defenses played a role in that, too.
While the Broncos kept Tigers quarterback Darrias Pearsall and running back Preston Whitworth in check, Lee’s Summit was equally effective slowing down North quarterback Christian Carter and the Broncos’ speedy running game.
Mistakes would be the deciding factor, including two by the Tigers that proved fatal to their hopes at victory.
With Lee’s Summit driving late in the second quarter of a scoreless game, Pearsall threw a pass right into the arms of North linebacker Kienen Gaskin, who ran it back untouched 55 yards for a touchdown.
Early in the fourth quarter, a bad snap forced Tigers punter Evan Sanders to run the ball out of his end zone, setting up a 4-yard touchdown run by Carter one play later.
“We gave them their scores,” Lee’s Summit coach Eric Thomas said. “Defense played their butts off. They pitched a shutout. That’s three weeks in a row they’ve played really well and kept us in the game.”
Lee’s Summit (2-4, 0-3) bounced back from the interception with an 11-play, 73-yard drive that started with 1 minute, 27 seconds left in the first half and ended with Pearsall lobbing a 1-yard pass to Somaj Brewer, who bobbled the ball a couple of times before grabbing it in the back corner of the end zone as time expired.
But the Tigers couldn’t carry the momentum of the quick score into the second half.
Lee’s Summit managed only three first downs in the third quarter as it also bogged down with mistakes and penalties.
“We failed offensively to move the ball at all in the second half,” Thomas said. “We couldn’t get anything going.”
North had the same problem as the penalties mounted.
On one series alone, a holding penalty negated a 39-yard touchdown run by Carter before a false start and holding call on back-to-back snaps left them facing third-and-38.
“We’re a running team,” Mozee said. “When you’re first-and-20 all night, it’s not a matter of execution. You can’t overcome that.”
After scoring the go-ahead touchdown, North forced a Lee’s Summit three-and-out then drained the clock with a 17-play, 72-yard drive that chewed up almost nine minutes and effectively ended the Tigers’ hopes.
The Broncos thought the drive ended with a 12-yard TD run by Carter, but officials ruled he fumbled the ball before crossing the goal line and that Lee’s Summit recovered it in the end zone.
“I think I had a touchdown, because, when I fell in the end zone, my elbow hit first,” Carter said. “The refs were against us all night.”
Lee’s Summit got the ball back with 1:55 left, but the Tigers could only get to the North 41-yard line before turning the ball over on downs with 43 seconds remaining.
“The kids kept playing,” Mozee said. “That was my message to preach since (losing at Lee’s Summit West two weeks ago). The fourth quarter they kind of faded, but they didn’t fade tonight. They kept fighting.”
The Broncos also kept fighting through all the ugliness, both deserved and undeserved.
“We were just fighting against all the adversity,” Carter said. “We just came together as a team and did it all together.”