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Lee shines for Kirkwood in win over Ladue

Lee shines for Kirkwood in win over Ladue

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KIRKWOOD — Senior Will Lee did everything for the Kirkwood Pioneers but change a flat tire.

The 6-foot-2, 185-pound Lee caught an 80-yard touchdown pass, helping the Pioneers to a 20-7 victory over the visiting Ladue Rams on Friday night.

Lee did more than catch and run with a touchdown bomb. He gained 17 yards on a fake punt attempt. He also intercepted a pass.

"I'm just trying to help my team win in any way I can," Lee said. "I want out team to win and I like to contribute as much as I can."

Lee, who had three catches for 139 yards, plays receiver and defensive back besides being the Pioneers' punter.

"I like being out there on the field as much as I can be," Lee said.

The Pioneers (1-1) rebounded from last week's 35-34 loss to Marquette with the much-needed win. 

The Rams fell to 0-2 for the first time since 2011.

"I thought we made improvement from last week to this week," Ladue coach Mike Tarpey said. "We played hard and we fought hard. That was a very good football team we played. Some schools might call this a moral victory to play like we did against a bigger school. We have some things to work on, but I'm encouraged by what I saw from us in this game."

Ladue scored on a 41-yard screen pass when junior Jared Rhodes raced in midway through the third quarter. Freshman quarterback Beau Dolan, a left-handed passer, made the play work to perfection when he dropped back before finding Rhodes, who did the rest.

The extra-point by junior Mason Taylor made it 13-7.

The Pioneers drove to the Ladue 31-yard-line but lost the ball on downs. Kirkwood held Ladue on its next possession and then took over on its own 20.

Two plays later, Kirkwood senior quarterback Kannon Nesslage found Lee, who got behind senior defensive back Mel Woodson. Nesslage threw a beautiful spiral pass that caught Lee in stride around the Ladue 35 and he took it to the end zone.

"We had seen that and thought it would work," Nesslage said. "I just had to get the ball to Will and let him do his thing. It felt good to do that. This was a big win for us tonight. We came out as a team and we played hard and got the win."

The extra point by Blaine Anderson made it 20-7 with 28 seconds showing in the third quarter.

"Will is just a great high school football player," said Kirkwood assistant coach Todd Stevener. "He can do it all for you. He works hard and is a good team leader. He came out to play tonight."

Stevener was running the Pioneers in place of head coach Farrell Shelton. Stevener said Shelton was in Arkansas dealing with a family emergency.

"We knew coach wasn't going to be here and we knew we had to go out and play and that's what we did," Stevener said.

Ladue was driving when Lee picked off a Dolan pass with 3:29 remaining. The ball was intended for senior Stewart Dove, but the pass was tipped by Jackson Fortner.

"We practice the tip drill every day," Lee said. "Stewart did a great job there. I was in the right place at the right time."

Nesslage hit on 12-of-21 passes for 201 yards.

Dolan threw for 150 yards on 19-of-29 passing with one interception. His coach liked what he saw from the youngster.

"I thought Beau played very well," Tarpey said. "We've got a young team with a freshman quarterback, but he did a good job out there. Kirkwood has a tough, physical defense and he made some good plays for us. He is just a freshman, I mean, he hasn't even been in the weight room very much. He's going to be a good player."

The Pioneers scored on their first possession for a 6-0 lead. Lee made diving catch for a 37-yard gain to the Ladue 15. Senior Cole Johnson romped in on the next play for the touchdown to cap the five-play, 70-yard drive with 4:11 left in the first quarter. The extra point attempt by Anderson was blocked.

Johnson finished with 100 yards rushing on 15 attempts for the Pioneers.

"He runs hard," Stevener said. "He played very well for us."

Lee rambled 17 yards on fake punt early in the second quarter. However, senior Jaylen Phipps fumbled and Ladue freshman Weston Williams recovered the loose ball at the Rams' 34-yard line.

The Rams had to punt from their own 44. Lee broke through and blocked junior Mason Taylor's punt attempt. Junior Adam Gates recovered the ball for Kirkwood at the Rams' 31-yard line.

Four plays later, Phipps scored on a 12-yard run with 5:10 left in the first half. The extra point attempt by senior Blaine Anderson was good, giving Kirkwood a 13-0 lead.

Box: Kirkwood 20, Ladue 7
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