(Kenny Felt/Captured Images)
"The sun finally came out, it's Homecoming and it ended up being a really nice day," Fort Scott head coach Jeff Sims said.
Although the winless Scotties ended a 13-quarter scoring drought against the Greyhounds (6-0 Jayhawk, 7-0 overall), their struggles in the running game allowed Fort Scott's defense to concentrate on stopping the pass. Although Highland (0-5, 0-7) did gain 211 yards in the air, it had to use two quarterbacks to do so, completed only 38 percent of its passes, got sacked four times and threw four interceptions -- all of them to Junction City freshman defensive back Dennis Herbin.
"I see the guys every day in practice," Sims said when asked if hew knew Herbin had that kind of ball-hawking skill. "Dennis Herbin is a good football player. Sometimes, (other teams) pick on guys that they don't know about. We talk about our guys getting their opportunity. And Dennis got his opportunity today."
Herbin not only had the four picks -- three of which came in the third quarter -- he also had a chance at at least two more interceptions (one broken up by the Highland receiver, one he caught out of bounds), broke up at least two more passes and even drew an offensive pass interference penalty.
Fort Scott scored on the game's first possession, a 13-play, 60-yard drive after the opening kickoff went out of bounds. Jasmin Hopkins scored his eighth touchdown of the season on a 1-yard run around the right side with 9:21 on the clock. Although the 'Hounds led just 7-0 after one period, Hopkins scored again on the first play of the second quarter on an 11-yard run over the left side, capping a 10-play, 51-yard drive.
Highland got on the board with a 22-yard field goal by Zak King with 11:27 on the clock. The Scotties had last scored on the Greyhounds with exactly 2:00 remaining in the 2005 meeting, so this kick ended a drought of 200 minutes, 33 seconds of game time since then.
Herbin's first interception came at the Highland 34 with about 9 1/2 minutes to go in the first half. But the 'Hounds turned it back over two plays later on a fumble. However, quarterback Dominique Davis did make it a 21-3 margin when he snuck over from 1 yard out on fourth down on Fort Scott's next possession.
Highland backup quarterback Develin Robinson scored on a keeper himself with 2:17 remaining. The 'Hounds responded just over a minute later when Davis found a wide-open Quin Bruce for a touchdown with 1:08 to go that made it 28-10 at the half.
Andre Clark forced a fumble on a sack early in the third quarter and the 'Hounds recovered at the Highland 14. Four plays later, Justin Woods scored on a 3-yard run.
Herbin picked off Highland passes on each of the Scotties' next three possessions. The 'Hounds scored off the second one when Woods went over the top of the pile at the goal line to make it 42-10 with 4:09 left in the third.
Highland's Josh Johnson returned a punt 86 yards for a touchdown on the final play of the third quarter to cut the deficit to 42-17. The teams turned around for the ensuing kickoff. Highland tried an onside kick but was called for offsides. The Scotties kicked deep on the re-kick and Hopkins picked up the ball on a bounce and ran it back 92 yards for season touchdown No. 10 on the first official play of the fourth quarter.
"That wasn't coaching," Sims said with a laugh. "Jas is back there on our hands team because he's trustworthy. While he was out there, he yelled, 'Coach! What do I do if they kick it deep?' And I said, 'Run it.' And the ball's bouncing around and I was like, 'Let's go!'."
Kyle Ericson kicked a 32-yard field goal for the 'Hounds with 6:49 remaining to make it 52-17. The final score came from Fort Scott High graduate Alex Barner, who caught a 26-yard TD pass from backup quarterback Spencer Bennett with 57 seconds to go.
"Alex...has worked extremely hard all season," Fort Scott head coach Jeff Sims said. "And I saw an opportunity to pat him on the back and reward him for his work and the duties he's performed. I thought our backups went in and had fun and played hard."
Fort Scott's point total was the highest since putting up 55 on Garden City in a playoff victory on November of 2007. Fort Scott also scored 50 points on Highland in October of that season. Sims said he wasn't looking at the scoreboard and, since he usually doesn't wear a headset, there wasn't likely anyone telling him what it was. He just wanted to look at personnel late in the game that have not had a chance to get on the field.
"We started the season with a four-game stretch that was very tough with Kilgore, Coffeyville, Garden City and Hutch," Sims said. "Now, we've just done a three-game stretch against teams that are struggling this year. And I thought it was important to just come out and play today. I was never looking at the scoreboard at any part of the game. I was looking at who we had in there and what we could do with those guys and execute with those guys."
Davis bounced back from a sub-par 10-of-27, 107 yard game against Dodge City the week before. This time out, he completed 19 of 28 passes for 204 yards and one score. C.J. Fondren caught 8 of those passes for 78 yards. Bennett, in his first chance to throw very many passes, went 5 of 8 for 119 yards, which may make this the first time FSCC has had two quarterbacks throw for over 100 yards in the same game. Barner caught 4 of Bennett's passes for 107 yards.
Also in the receiving department, Zach McFall hauled down 3 passes for 56 yards and Chad Peake caught 3 for 22 yards.
Hopkins rushed 24 times and finished with 103 yards while Woods gained 57 yards on 20 rushes.
Fort Scott as a team had 24 first downs, 323 passing yards and 502 total yards. Highland had 18 first downs and 234 total yards but managed only 23 yards on the ground on 38 carries. Starting quarterback Aaron Wallenborn completed just 8 of 30 passes for 119 yards and threw all 4 picks. Leading rusher Rashad Austin gained only 24 yards on 16 carries. Johnson had 7 receptions for 102 yards.
Frank Bryant had 1 1/2 sacks for 17 yards. Fort Scott's four total sacks resulted in 44 yards in losses.
The Greyhounds will have a short week ahead of them as they have to travel to Colorado Springs to face Air Force Prep Friday afternoon. The Huskies (5-3) lost at Hutchinson, 51-10, Saturday but are 3-0 against Jayhawk Conference teams at home so far this season (beating Garden City, Dodge City and Independence).
"We don't evaluate teams until the week we have to play them," Fort Scott head coach Jeff Sims said. "I will tell you this: Air Force Prep is a tremendous team and can beat us. If we don't play well, it's not going to be good. But our kids will work hard, we'll got out there and get us a win and then we'll see everybody back here Oct. 31."
NOTES -- After the game, the Greyhounds signed autographs at tables set up along the track. It's been important for Sims to have the community be a part of the Greyhounds' success.
"It goes both ways," Fort Scott head coach Jeff Sims said. "Our kids love it. But the No. 1 thing I've seen change since I've been here is seeing more little kids at our games. And we love it. It's a win-win. Our college kids feel important for a moment and the young guys and girls and fans feel like, 'Hey, I got to meet that guy.' So that's cool."...
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