Longhorns commit 7 turnovers in meltdown against Beavers

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SCHS junior Wyatt Kropp turns the corner and avoids a Holcomb defender for a 59 yard run during first quarter action on Friday.

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SCHS junior Wyatt Kropp turns the corner and avoids a Holcomb defender for a 59 yard run during first quarter action on Friday.

By Rod Haxton, editor
If there were any doubts about the Scott City defense, some of those may have been put to rest against Class 4A state-ranked Holcomb on Friday.
The Beavers turned five turnovers into four touchdowns - and that was just in the first half.
For the game, SCHS forced seven turnovers - four fumbles and three interceptions - and limited the Longhorns to just 159 yards of total offense in a 49-6 rout before a Scott Community High School Homecoming crowd.
“The boys stepped it up tonight on defense,” said defensive coordinator Jim Turner. “They played a little harder and a little smarter. We made a couple of early adjustments to dive plays in their spread offense and the boys picked up on that pretty quick.”
Holcomb gained eight yards on the first play of the game and that was pretty much it for a Longhorn highlight film.
The Longhorns were limited to just two first downs in the first half. They didn’t cross midfield until the final play of the half and didn’t cross midfield again until the fourth quarter on a scoring drive against the SCHS junior varsity.
This wasn’t just about a dominating performance by the Scott City defense. The SCHS offense scored on six of their seven first half possessions. The only time they didn’t score was when senior tight end Sloan Baker fumbled the ball into the end zone and out of bounds at the end of a 22 yard pass play.
That was the only thing that didn’t go right for the Beavers.
Scott City’s balanced attack included 224 yards passing and another 233 rushing, led by junior tailback Wyatt Kropp who burned the Holcomb defense for 175 yards and a pair of touchdowns on just 15 carries.
“Early in the game I missed a couple of cutbacks where I had a lane, so I take the blame for missing those opportunities,” says Kropp. “I figured out that if I could hit the seam, I might have just one tackle to break. If I could do that I had a chance for a big play and could hopefully get to the end zone.”
It didn’t take Kropp long to figure that out.
On Scott City’s second possession he broke loose for a 59 yard run that set up a Tre Stewart 24 yard field goal. He would add a 71 yard touchdown run on Scott City’s opening drive of the second half.
Kropp finished with more rushing yards than the Longhorns had total offense.
Defensive Domination
What was being billed throughout the week as one of the premier games in Western Kansas turned into a rout behind Scott City’s defense.
Holcomb quarterback Trey Teeter was limited to just 70 yards passing (8-of-14), but couldn’t connect with anyone deep except Scott City defensive backs. The Longhorns’ ground game was just as ineffective with only 89 yards - 28 of those coming on a meaningless run to end the first half.
Holcomb had the ball for just 38 offensive plays.
It wasn’t until the fourth quarter that Holcomb had an offensive possession of more than five plays.
Entering the game, the Beavers knew they would have to get pressure on Teeter and they had some success doing that off the edge with defensive ends Wyatt Eitel on one side and Tre Stewart and Abe Wiebe rotating in on the other side.
“Wyatt played a lot more physical than he has been and we got good games out of both Tre and Abe,” notes Turner.
“I just tried to work hard all night and find a way to get to the quarterback,” says Eitel. “I wasn’t able to get a sack, but I was able to bring some pressure and hopefully that led to a couple of picks.”
Offensive Balance
O’Neil, who was 15-of-22 for four touchdowns, spread the ball among six different receivers, but Yager and Baker were his two favorite targets with a combined 11 catches. While the 6-foot-2 senior can stay in the pocket, he seems to be most comfortable when he’s on the move and looking for a receiver.
“The line knows that I can roll out so they only have to block for two or three seconds. That’s all I’m asking for is two or three seconds and we can make a play with receivers coming back to me,” says O’Neil.
Obviously, every receiver is running a designated route to start a play, but once they see O’Neil is trying to buy some extra time that’s when they hit freestyle mode.
“I always know that Chantz (Yager) is coming back. I’ve been connecting with him for over two years,” says O’Neil. “Whether I’m rolling right or left I’m looking for him because he’s a quick, little guy.”
Early Mistakes
Both teams were undefeated and state ranked entering this game for the first time since this series began in 2004. With so much on the line in what is already a heated rivalry, nerves were a factor in some early mistakes.
On Holcomb’s first possession they were lining up for a fourth down attempt at their 23-1/2 yard line, needing one-half yard for a first down. A motion penalty against the Longhorns erased any thought of gambling on fourth down and they were forced to punt into the wind, giving SCHS excellent field position at the Holcomb 38.
An 18-1/2 yard run by Kropp gave the Beavers a first down at the two-foot line, but they were immediately pushed back five yards by a motion penalty. On third down, quarterback Trey O’Neil rolled to his right and found tight end Sloan Baker open for the four yard scoring pass.
Following another good defensive stand by the Beavers, they wasted no time getting back into scoring position again after a Holcomb punt put them at their own 32. On the first play, Kropp was able to get to the right edge for a 57 yard run to the 11 yard line, aided by an additional five yards for a facemask penalty. Two SCHS motion penalties forced them to settle for Stewart’s field goal and a 10-0 lead.
By then, however, the Beavers had established they could move the ball effectively against the Longhorns’ defense.
“I felt it would be a little tougher getting to the edge. Holcomb has good speed and they did a real nice job of shutting down (Ulysses runningback) Ian Rudzik who is one of the best backs in the league,” says Kropp.
“When they blew up the sweeps by Ulysses we knew that we had to be mentally focused, make our blocks and give the backs an alley,” adds Kropp. “I give credit to the line just like every week. They’re the ones who make it happen.”
The next 16 minutes saw a complete meltdown by the Longhorns who committed six turnovers that led to four Scott City touchdowns.

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