(FSCC photo/Kathleen Hinrichs)
After thoroughly dominating then No. 4-ranked Hutchinson in a 31-0 victory at Frary Field last week, turning in a nearly-flawless performance, the No. 3-ranked 'Hounds were able to get away with a win over Independence despite mistakes in the passing game, on special teams, on defense and committing too many penalties.
"I told the team three things after the game," Fort Scott head coach Jeff Sims said. "One: 5-0 is 5-0. So we're happy about that. Two: I think our program's come a long way in that we won 31-9 and everyone's down. Three: That wasn't good enough. There were too many little things: Dropped passes, penalties, blocked punt, blocked field goal. All that is letting up a little bit. We weren't as sharp as we like to be.
"The only person you can blame is me. That's my job. It's not the players' job. It's my job to have them ready every week. They were ready to win the football game but they weren't ready to play the way the can play."
After scoring the game's first 21 points off turnovers in the first quarter last week, it took until early in the second quarter for the Greyhounds (4-0 Jayhawk, 5-0 overall) to get on the board.
Independence (2-2, 2-3) got on the scoreboard first via a 20-yard field goal by Taylor Buck with 1:05 left in the first quarter. Fort Scott went ahead on an 11-yard run by Justin Woods at the end of a 12-play, 73-yard drive with 10:50 to go in the second. Each play on that drive was a run.
Fort Scott's second touchdown came two plays after Byron Jerideau recovered an Indy fumble at the Greyhounds' 46-yard line. Woods gained 16 yards on a run to set up the 38-yard scoring pass from Dominique Davis to Chad Peake with 9:09 left in the quarter to make it a 14-3 lead.
Another fumble recovery, this one by Dennis Herbin after a bad pitch got knocked about 40 yards behind the line of scrimmage, led to Davis' three-yard bootleg into the end zone with 2:24 left, making it 21-3. Andre Clark's fumble recovery with about a minute to go led to Kyle Ericson's 38-yard field goal as time ran out in the half.
There was no scoring in the third quarter. Fort Scott's two possessions ended on a shanked punt and a lost fumble. Indy's possessions ended with a Steven Ford interception and a blocked field goal.
The fourth quarter didn't start much better for the 'Hounds as they drove to the Independence 6, only to see the drive stall. Ericson's 23-yard field goal was blocked. It bounced back to Ericson, who tried to get to the end zone but was knocked out of bounds at the 8.
The Pirates shanked a punt from their own 10 at the end of the ensuing possession and the 'Hounds took over at the 18. Five plays later, Jonathon Walker scored his first collegiate touchdown on a 3-yard run with 12:19 left in the contest.
Independence's only touchdown -- and just its second in its last two games -- came after the Pirates recovered a blocked punt at the Fort Scott 2. Quarterback Brodrick Waters rolled to his right and hit Darrius Crosby from one yard out. The extra point went wide left with 1:57 remaining.
Oddly enough, the Greyhounds matched the exact number of total yards they had last week against Hutchinson, 418. But this time, the rushing game was the dominant aspect, gaining 319 yards on 60 carries as Davis was able to complete only 6 of 17 passes for 99 yards. This was one week after he threw for 275 yards with one pass alone going for 99 yards.
The Pirates had more total offense this week, 215 yards, than Hutch did the week before (199). They had 184 of those yards on the ground, which is nearly 80 more than the 'Hounds allowed per game (107 1/2) coming into the contest.
"I was not pleased with any phase of our team today," Sims said. "No. 3 (Waters) and No. 32 (Mike Harris) were running all over the place. But it's not because our defense didn't play well. It's because we didn't play the way we (want to) play. We have a standard on offense, defense and special teams that we want to be at. And I don't think we achieved that tonight. That's a good thing we can win even though we didn't win the play we want to. But we can't play like this and continue to win. We have to be sharper."
Woods finished with 131 yards for the Greyhounds on 13 carries. Hopkins had 99 yards on 24 rushes and Walker finished with 76 yards on 16 totes. C.J. Fondren hauled in a team-high 3 catches for 48 yards.
Harris ran 24 times for 87 yards for the Pirates. Walters rushed 13 times for 43 yards but went just 7 of 18 for 31 yards in the air. At halftime, Walters was just 1 of 4 for 6 yards.
Fort Scott returns home Saturday for a 1 p.m. Jayhawk Conference contest against Dodge City. The Conquistadors had a badly-needed bye last week, as they are 0-3 in the conference and 0-5 overall. Their last game, a Sept. 25 contest at Air Force Prep, resulted in a 47-10 defeat and they have lost their games this season by an average score of 41-11. They are last in the conference in scoring, total offense and total defense and next-to-last in points allowed.
But as Saturday's game showed, the Greyhounds won't leave Frary Field satisfied unless they play the game they know they're capable of playing, no matter what the final score is.
"We need to be more locked in," Sims said. "I didn't see a lot of smiles after the game. They have a standard they want to play by. We want to win every game and we want to perform every game. And I don't know if it's winning as much as it is playing the way we know how to play. And I don't think we played at the level we want to play today."