It was the third straight loss for the Panthers, who slipped to 3-5 overall and 3-4 in Class A District 1.
Turnovers played a part in K-P’s last loss - a 31-18 setback at Gehlen Catholic - and were prominent early Friday.
K-P fumbled a kick return in the first quarter and the Eagles scored off the turnover, taking a 14-0 lead into the second.
The Panthers rallied back as quarterback Jeff Engle connected with fullback Dexter Mahrt on a 63-yard screen pass for a touchdown, but another blunder on special teams soon followed.
After cutting the deficit to 14-7 early in the second, K-P fumbled a punt and Lawton cashed in with another score. The Eagles then hit on a 56-yard pass play to set up touchdown and by quarter’s end, tallied 20 unanswered points to lead 34-7 at the break.
“We kind of really shot ourselves in the foot again,” K-P coach Bart Boustead said. “On the punt fumble they got the ball at our 28 and the kickoff fumble they got it on the 23. You just can’t do that with a team like Lawton.”
The Eagles added a touchdown in the third quarter to lead 41-7 and scored again in the fourth. K-P’s only touchdown of the second half came in the fourth as linebacker Chase Koskovich picked up a bad snap on an L-B punt and rumbled 2 yards into the end zone.
Koskovich led the defense on the night with 12 tackles, Mahrt had 8 and Isaiah Corbin recorded 5 1/2.
The defense surrendered 364 rushing yards to the Eagles, forcing two turnovers with Ross McNaughton adding a fumble recovery late.
“They’re a quality team, that’s for sure,” Boustead said. “They have a lot of depth and you can tell they’ve been in the weight room. Their offensive line averages like 6-foot-3, too. They’re just big, they played as a team and did a lot of good things.”
K-P’s offense was limited by both the L-B defense and the turnovers on special teams, managing just 126 yards on the ground.
Mahrt was the leading rusher with 12 carries for 65 and Corbin had 19 carries for 61. Mahrt also led the passing game with 2 catches for 64 yards and a touchdown, while Corbin had 1 catch for 17 and Jordan Bird 1 for 21.
Quarterback Jeff Engle completed 5-of-20 passes for 88 yards and a score.
“Jeff had some pressure on him pretty much most of the night,” Boustead said. “The offensive line did decent enough, but we made a few mistakes and gave them short fields. They just had the ball too much. I was pleased with our boys’ effort. We just came up short.”
The Panthers will try to halt a three-game slide in the season finale against River Valley Friday in Correctionville.
“We sure want to get a win for the seniors and send them out on a good note,” Boustead said. “We’ll go out, have a lot of fun and do the things we do best.”
River Valley’s offense is powered by a strong running game and K-P must shore up the defense to avoid another outcome like the 346-yard showing from Lawton-Bronson’s backfield.
“They run the ball well. We’re going to have to stop them on defense,” Boustead said. “They’re hungry and it’s at their place. We just have to come in and play our game, do what we need to do to win the game.”