After the teams combined for 98 points in regulation Friday, Derby senior running back Brody Kooser provided an emphatic ending with a 10-yard, game-winning touchdown run in overtime, pushing the Panthers into the Class 6A football semifinals with a 55-49 road victory against Lawrence Free State.
Kooser, who rushed for 197 yards and two touchdowns, raised both of his arms in the air and was mobbed by his teammates in the end zone. More teammates sprinted from the sidelines to join the celebration. It was Derby’s first offensive play in overtime after its defense stopped Free State on two plays from inside of the five-yard line.
Beginning at the end of the first quarter, Derby (10-1) scored touchdowns on seven straight possessions — and needed all of them to keep pace with Free State.
Junior dual-threat quarterback Hunter Igo ran for 167 yards and four scores, shaking past would-be tacklers with his shiftiness. He added 150 passing yards and one touchdown toss to Jack Taylor in the final seconds of the second quarter.
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Derby produced 538 yards of offense, which included several trick plays. There were reverses, hook-and-ladders and a couple of double passes, one resulting in a touchdown. On 4th-and-18 in the third quarter, receiver Tyler Brown tossed a 19-yard touchdown to Kooser, who finished with 41 receiving yards.
“Our offensive line came out and played hard,” Derby coach Brandon Clark said. “They were a lot smaller.”
Free State, which played most of the game without standout running back Jax Dineen because of an apparent ankle injury, had the ball inside of the 20-yard line in the final minute of regulation. Before the top-seeded Firebirds (10-1) could set up a potential field goal attempt, Derby junior Bryce Westmoreland forced a fumble and the Panthers recovered to eventually force overtime.
Earlier in the fourth quarter, following an interception by junior Dax Benway, the Panthers lost a fumble at the 7-yard line with an opportunity to push their lead to two scores. Free State tied the score four plays later.
“We were lucky to be in the game,” Clark said. “Our kids played hard. Their kids played hard. It was one of those classic football games that I’m just glad that we came out on the good side of it.”
The Panthers will travel to second-seeded Northwest (10-1) for their 6A semifinal next week.
Derby 7 21 14 7 6 — 55
Free State 14 14 7 14 0 — 49
7:03 — Gage Foster 18 run. Kameron Lake kick. (FS 7, DER 0.)
2:09 — Jack Theisen 21 pass from Foster. Lake kick. (FS 14, DER 0.)
1:52 — Hunter Igo 8 run. Jackson Syring kick. (FS 14, DER 7.)
7:09 — Igo 1 run. Syring kick. (FS 14, DER 14.)
5:25 — Foster 25 run. Lake kick. (FS 21, DER 14.)
3:19 — Brody Kooser 12 run. Syring kick. (FS 21, DER 21.)
0:37 — Keenan Garber 4 run. Lake kick. (FS 28, DER 21.)
0:03 — Jack Taylor 20 pass from Igo. Syring kick. (FS 28, DER 28.)
9:12 — Igo 2 run. Syring kick. (DER 35, FS 28.)
8:00 — Jake Rittman 53 pass from Foster. Lake kick. (DER 35, FS 35.)
5:16 — Kooser 19 pass from Tyler Brown. Syring kick. (DER 42, FS 35.)
11:51 — Tyler Bowden 35 run. Lake kick. (DER 42, FS 42.)
9:47 — Igo 4 run. Syring kick. (DER 49, FS 42.)
5:39 — Bowden 18 run. Lake kick. (DER 49, FS 49.)
0:00 — Kooser 10 run. (DER 55, FS 49.)
DER: Brody Kooser 29-197 2 TD, Hunter Igo 28-167 4 TD, Tre Washington 1-5, Team 1-negative 5.
FS: Jax Dineen 3-70, Gage Foster 28-178 2 TD, Keenan Garber 4-42 TD, Zach Wilson 1-1, Bo Miller 5-30, Tyler Bowden 5-88 2 TD.
DER: Igo 8-14—150 TD, Tyler Brown 1-2—19 TD.
FS: Foster 11-20—172 2 TD and INT, Jake Rittman 0-1—0.
DER: Brady Walls 1-26, Tyler Brown 2-15, Kooser 2-41 TD, Jack Taylor 4-87 TD.
FS: Garber 1-14, Jack Theisen 2-29 TD, Rittman 7-113 TD, Miller 1-16.
HOW THEY SCORED