FORT SCOTT, Kan. -- The kid was all right.
Fort Scott's Luke Brown became the first sophomore to start a game at quarterback in the known history of the Tiger football program Friday night as an eight-game losing streak was broken with a 35-6 Homecoming victory at Frary Field in Southeast Kansas League play.
"Luke did an outstanding job," Fort Scott head coach Don Epps said. "He stepped right in without any questions. We had a lot of confidence in him. He did a great job tonight."
Brown started in place of junior Trevor Swim, who suffered a back injury in last week's game at Columbus. He completed 13 of 18 passes for 181 yards and two touchdowns and threw no interceptions in directing the Tigers (1-4 SEK, 1-5 overall) to their first victory since they beat Parsons, 18-15, at Marvel Park last year.
For Parsons, this was its 17th consecutive defeat. They haven't won a game since beating Coffeyville Oct. 12, 2007. The Vikings have lost 25 of their last 26 games. This was Fort Scott's 18th consecutive victory over Parsons, extending the school record for most consecutive wins over one team.
Tribune records, as far as players and positions go, date back only to just before the 1977 season. As far as is known, no sophomore has started a season as the starting quarterback and there are no indications any 10th-grader has stared at any point of the previous 32 seasons.
Brown had a lot of help as both senior Gary Floyd and junior Griffin Knopp made outstanding catches several times. Knopp finished with 6 receptions for 89 yards and one score. Floyd caught 5 passes for 45 yards and one touchdown.
In the majority of cases, coaches like to establish the run to open up the passing game. But the opposite happened here as Brown completed his first five passes. When Parsons (0-4, 0-6) had to respect the pass, the running game opened up and Chris Archie and Cody Cannon had a much easier time making plays.
The Tigers had to overcome some adversity first as the Vikings scored first. Matt Martinez recovered a fumbled pitch for Parsons at the Fort Scott 42 with just under four minutes left in the first quarter and scored just three plays later on Tarial Johnson's 1-yard run. The extra-point kick was no good.
Fort Scott moved the ball to the Parsons 25 on the next drive but inopportune penalties along the way sapped the momentum out of the drive and it stalled there on an incomplete fourth-down pass.
Penalties would be a problem the Tigers had to overcome all night long as they committed 21 for 165 yards.
The Tigers caught a big break early in the second quarter that turned what could have been a devastating turnover into an opportunity. Floyd muffed a Parsons punt and the Vikings recovered at Fort Scott's 32. But a Viking player on the sideline was called for interfering with a Fort Scott player as he tried to get downfield. The penalty forced the Vikings to punt again and the ball rolled dead at the Fort Scott 25. But an unsportsman-like conduct penalty against the Vikes allowed the Tigers to start at the 40.
The Tigers began to move the ball downfield again. A crushing block by Drew Bryant allowed Archie to gain 35 yards on a second-and-14 screen pass to the Parsons 3. The next two plays lost yards, but then Brown went back and found Floyd, who went up and over his defender to haul down the touchdown pass with 5:36 to go in the second. Knopp's PAT gave the Tigers a 7-6 lead.
"Our kids came right back," Fort Scott head coach Don Epps said. "They played with a lot of confidence tonight."
Homecoming King Blake Cowen claimed the end zone on the next drive on a 27-yard run with 2:58 left to make it 14-6. Archie made it 21-6 when he took a pitch to the right for 6 yards with 13 seconds left. Brown completed passes on the first three plays of that drive for 36 yards.
The Tigers turned a Viking turnover into another touchdown midway through the third when Brown found Knopp in the left side of the end zone from 16 yards out to make it 28-6 with 6:18 on the clock.
Floyd intercepted a pass in the end zone and returned it 80 yards to set up the Tigers' final score, a 1-yard plunge by Cowen with 10:56 left in the game.
Fort Scott gained 301 yards of total offense with 120 coming on the ground. Parsons could only muster 129 total yards with its Pistol offense and just 34 of those yards came in the second half.
"I'm really proud of our defense," Fort Scott head coach Don Epps said. "They played hard and we tackled so much better tonight."
Cannon gained 58 yards on 10 carries to lead the Tigers while Archie finished with 37 yards on 10 rushes and Cowen gained 36 on 6 rushes.
Parsons quarterback Christian Sutton started off well, completing 5 of his first 6 passes for 56 yards but misfired on his last 7 attempts.
The Tigers will begin Class 4A district play next Friday with a trip to Iola. The Mustangs (1-3, 2-4) gained their first victory in league play with a 17-13 victory over Labette County after trailing 13-3 going into the fourth quarter.
NOTES -- Floyd's touchdown was his team-leading seventh of the season....
Brown's 181 yards were the most by a Tiger quarterback in his first start since Rob Werling threw for 173 yards against Parsons in the first game of the 2000 season....
Parsons' losing streak is tied for the sixth longest since comprehensive SEK records begin after the 1961 season. This was also the Vikings' ninth straight road loss and 12th straight league defeat...
This was Fort Scott's first home victory since beating Paola in a playoff game on Oct. 30, 2007. A 7-game losing streak at home and a 6-game losing streak against league teams were also broken....
Independence scored on the last play of regulation and tied the game on a two-point conversion but still fell, 40-34, Friday night when Columbus scored in overtime. Columbus (4-2, 4-2) tied Labette County for the most OT victories all-time by an SEK team with 7. Meanwhile, Independence (also 4-2, 4-2) extended its record number of OT losses to 10....