SC scores 24 unanswered points to rally past Holcomb, 23-14
Only 12 seconds had ticked off the clock in the second quarter and Scott City was already trailing Holcomb by two touchdowns.
A stunned Scott City crowd had just watched the Longhorns score on a 50 yard play in which the ball was knocked loose from the hands of a receiver into a teammate who raced the final 23 yards to put Holcomb on top, 14-0.
The Beavers, who had been limited to just 42 yards of offense on their first four possessions were needing an answer . . . and soon.
Scott City scored on their next three possessions for a 17-14 halftime lead and they added an insurance touchdown with just over 3-1/2 minutes left in the game for a 23-14 win over the No. 5 ranked team in Class 4A-Division II.
It eased the memory of last season when the Beavers lost twice to Holcomb and it gives Scott City the inside track for a Great West Activities Conference title.
“It says a lot about the leadership on this team. They refused to lose,” says head coach Jim Turner. “It came down to making something good happen so we could get some confidence. Once we got the big pass for the touchdown, we had the momentum.”
“We had to tell ourselves and our teammates that we couldn’t let it get us down,” noted senior runningback/linebacker Nick Nowak. “We knew we were the better team and we still had plenty of time to prove it.”
Despite their early success, Holcomb had done all their damage on two plays.
A 59 yard run set up a five yard keeper by quarterback Trey Gilbert midway into the first period. On the first play of the second quarter, Gilbert connected with Reece Morss on a pass that covered 27 yards when he was tackled by junior cornerback Marshall Faurot. Before Morss hit the turf, the ball popped loose and into the hands of Chance Rodriguez who happened to be a couple of steps ahead of the play. He ran the final 23 yards into the end zone.
“The first 12 minutes started out pretty slow for us. We didn’t come out with a lot of intensity and they punched us in the mouth on a couple of plays,” says junior fullback/defensive end Wyatt Hayes. “It’s pretty unfortunate that we created a fumble and they were able to turn it into a touchdown.”
SC Grabs Momentum
Just when it appeared that Holcomb had the momentum and a chance to win back-to-back games on Scott City’s home field, the Beavers responded with the key series and perhaps the key play of the night.
After getting only their second first down of the half on three consecutive runs, quarterback Parker Gooden hit tight end Parker Vulgamore on a 15 yard play to the far side of the field. On the following play, Gooden looked to his left and launched a deep pass that barely cleared the hands of a Holcomb defender and was pulled down by Faurot who fell backwards into the end zone for the touchdown.
In the span of just 1:42 the Beavers were back in the game.
“I knew the defender under-read the pass, plus he’s a shorter kid,” says Faurot. “I was confident he wasn’t going to be able to knock it down. I was going to play it safe and stay back and if it did come up short I could still knock the ball away.”
“Any time we can get Marshall in a one-on-one matchup, we’ll take our chances,” says offensive coordinator Brian Gentry. “Holcomb was playing tight and we thought we could get Marshall behind the defense. Parker made a great throw and it gave us the momentum we were needing.”
The Longhorns were three-and-out on their next three possessions in the second period. Meanwhile, Scott City, which had the wind to its back, capitalized on great field position.
A 43 yard drive led to a 20 yard touchdown run around the left end by Nowak which tied the game.
Scott City’s next possession began at the Longhorn 30 and it appeared the Beavers would punch it in for another TD when they had third-and-two at the eight yard line. However, a pair of SCHS penalties - a recurring issue during the night - pushed the Beavers back to the 28 yard line.
Newcomer Moses Hinojos lined up to kick a 45 yard field goal when an offside penalty moved the ball five yards closer. As it turned out, Hinojos may not have needed the extra five yards as he booted a 40 yard field goal down the middle with room to spare to put Scott City on top, 17-14, at halftime.
Defense Takes Over
The second half was a battle of defenses and field position.
The SCHS defense came up huge early in the second half when a fumbled punt gave the ball back to Holcomb at the Longhorn 43. The next Longhorn punt pinned the Beavers at their own four yard line.
However, the Beavers were able to get out of the hole on a 25 yard run by Jurgens on third-and-one.
SCHS was able to return the favor in the fourth quarter when a Faurot punt died at the Holcomb two yard line. Following three incomplete passes and a 14 yard punt, the Beavers had starting field position at the Longhorn 16. Five plays later, Hayes knifed his way up the middle and into the end zone for a touchdown with 3:36 remaining that put the game away.
Outside of the 59 yard run and the fluke scoring play, Holcomb generated just 93 yards of total offense - just 29 of those coming on the ground.
“Most of the night we were getting the push we needed up the middle,” says senior defensive tackle Nic Cheney. “The emphasis all week was for us to be the more physical team and I felt we showed that against the run.”
Gilbert struggled throughout the night, connecting on just 10-of-29 attempts for 101 yards - 41 of those coming on a meaningless drive late in the game.
After the slow start, SCHS finished with a 274-179 edge in total offense.
Jurgens led the team with 70 yards on just seven carries while Nowak added 61 yards (5.5 ypc). Hayes was a workhorse with 44 yards on 20 carries between the tackles.
“I was surprised that we got to the outside as well as we ended up doing. Their outside linebackers (Kaden Tichenor and Chance Rodriguez) are pretty good ball players,” says Gentry. “I figured we’d take our shots on the inside and their two inside linebackers filled the gaps pretty well.
“Parker made some nice throws when we needed in the second quarter and we were able to get to the outside because they were focused on pinching inside,” he says. “Jarret and Nick did a nice job of finding some lanes to the outside.”
Once again, Gooden was very efficient with his passing (6-of-10 for 87 yards), finding five different receivers.
Penalties played a huge role in the game with the Beavers giving up 124 yards on 15 penalties while the Longhorns committed nine penalties for 70 yards.
“I think it made us stronger on defense,” said Cheney. “Every time we got another penalty it made us even more determined that we weren’t going to let this game be taken away from us.”