Lions win rivalry game – Leavenworth Times

Derek Wiley
Leavenworth Time

Since taking over Lansing’s football program in the spring, Rick Pollard has preached the gospel of daily coaching improvement.

Friday’s sermon resulted in Pollard’s first victory as the Lions beat rival Leavenworth 34-26.

“Anytime you have to eat at the same place they eat, shop at the same place they buy, it’s good to get that win,” Pollard said. “But as I told our children, it’s only the third week, we try to improve every day and that’s what we strive to do.

“It doesn’t matter who we play against, and it doesn’t matter on the day. We just have to be better than yesterday, and I feel like if we keep doing that, good things are going to happen, and we showed that tonight.

Lansing had 499 rushing yards against the Pioneers.

“We’re starting to improve the readings and start doing the things we’re trained to do,” Pollard said. “Our kids are starting to see it, and the game is slowing down for them and that’s what makes our offense work.”

Quarterback Dalton Jorgensen completed 16 of 23 passes for 344 yards and three touchdowns.

“The O line did a terrific job tonight,” Jorgensen said. “I had a lot of time to throw the ball. I was really relaxed in the pocket. And it all starts with the big boys up front.

Jorgensen’s favorite target against Leavenworth was Lexton Grafke, who had nine receptions for 209 yards and a touchdown.

Caden Howell caught four passes for 90 yards and two touchdowns.

On the ground, Tyrone Butler added 86 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries.

“I think right now we’re rolling, and it’s great,” Jorgensen said. “It becomes much easier.

We also add new things every day. There is still a lot to learn.

Still a lot to unlock.

Lansing hit first against the Pioneers on a 22-yard field goal to take a 3-0 lead.

After Leavenworth quarterback Eddie McLaughlin broke free for a 48-yard touchdown, Jorgensen found Howell for a 24-yard score on the first play of the second quarter. A successful 2-point try gave the Lions an 11-6 lead.

McLaughlin, who rushed for 196 yards and also completed 19 of 32 passes for 210 yards, was released again for an 18-yard touchdown run.

“Eddie is a very good player,” Pollard said. “He is difficult to attack. And it happened tonight. Our kids just stepped up when they had to step in. There were times when Eddie broke some, but when we had to tackle him, we tackled him and we made plays.

Taking advantage of a short field thanks to an interception from Nate Expose, Jorgensen and Howell responded with a 44-yard touchdown and Lansing led 18-14 at halftime.

Jorgensen and Grafke then connected for a 49-yard touchdown to extend the Lions’ lead to 25-14.

Lansing defensive end Jamale Williams blocked a Leavenworth punt behind the end zone for a safety that put the Lions up 27-14 early in the fourth quarter.

The Pioneers didn’t go down without a fight as McLaughlin found Kaden Ramey for a 17-yard touchdown to close 27-20 with 8:48 left.

Facing the fourth goal from inside Leavenworth’s 1-yard line, Butler took a direct hit into the end zone to put Lansing back two scores.

McLaughlin and Ramey connected again for an 18-yard touchdown to make it 34-26 with 20.8 seconds left.

Ramey caught 11 passes for 138 yards and two touchdowns.

“They’re a good team there,” Pollard said. “They have good players, so beating those guys makes us feel good about the whole thing, not just tonight.”

Lansing junior Ryan French recovered an onside kick to secure the win and hand the Pioneers their first loss of the season.

Dallas Griffin led the Leavenworth defense with nine tackles, including two for loss. Jacob Robinson had three tackles and an interception.

“I was proud of how the kids fought in the second half,” Leavenworth coach Sean Sachen said. “We fell behind and then we were able to bring it down to less than a score and have a chance with a kick in play and maybe a Hail Mary or something. It is therefore a testimony to the character and courage of our children.

“They were more physical than us up front. Penalties were a big factor. We still have a lot of things to clean up, still at the start of the season.

Charles P. Patton