YATES CENTER —It has been more than a year since the Leon-Bluestem Lions had found themselves on the winning side of the scoreboard. Yet, that dubious streak came to an end last Friday as they captured a 32-21 victory over Yates Center.
This was the first win for Bluestem since a 30-27 home decision over the same Yates Center team in week five of the 2018 season. The Lions had dropped 14 of their last 15 games heading into Friday’s contest, including a 1-8 overall mark a year ago.
BHS now takes a little momentum into the start of Class 1A-District 2 action, which gets underway on Oct. 11 with a home game against Olpe. The Eagles are unbeaten on the season at 5-0 following a 67-0 thumping of Uniontown last week. Olpe is the defending Class 1A runner-up after falling to Smith Center in the 2018 championship game.
As for Yates Center, it remained winless on the season at 0-5 overall. The Wildcats, who have now dropped seven straight games, will open up Class 1A-District 1 action on Oct. 11 when it entertains perennial state power Pittsburg-Colgan. The Panthers are 2-3 overall following a 26-0 neutral-site victory over Abilene last Friday.
Bluestem and Yates Center both entered last week’s contest desperate for a win — a combined 0-8 through the first four weeks of the season. Something had to give, though, with both teams in search of that elusive victory.
The teams went back and forth most of the way. The Wildcats jumped ahead 7-0 in the first quarter on a 51-yard touchdown strike from Sean Hurst to Connor Griffith. The Lions responded, though, with a 72-yard scoring scamper from Nicholas Laidler. Tucker Garrison then ran in the conversion to give Bluestem an 8-7 edge after 12 minutes of action.
The Lions extended their lead on a one-yard dive into the end zone by Kendall Keeton. Yates Center answered with a score before the break as Bluestem went into the intermission up 16-13.
After a scoreless third quarter, things started to heat up once again in the final period. The Wildcats regained the advantage on a six-yard run from Griffith. But down the stretch, Bluestem came up with the big plays for the win, including a 70-yard run for six by Laidler and a 51-yard scamper to the end zone from Keeton to seal the deal.
Bluestem finished the game with 480 total yards of offense, including 451 on the ground. Laidler had a game-high 19 carries for 191 yards and two touchdowns, while Keeton had 21 rushes for 184 yards and two more scores.
The Lions limited the Wildcats to 255 offensive yards and also forced them into five turnovers. Hurst completed 12-of-29 passes for 208 yards and a touchdown but also tossed two interceptions. Jaron Morrison had five catches for 94 yards to lead the Yates Center receivers.
It was the first win at Bluestem for Ethan Haworth, who is currently in his first season as head coach.