(Kenny Felt/Captured Images)
The game was played on a cold, rainy day on a muddy field and defense dominated a contest that saw 18 fumbles, 11 of those by Butler including one on a crucial fourth-down play with just over two minutes to go.
With the victory, Fort Scott is now 11-0, matching the record of the 1970 National Championship Team. This is the first time the Greyhounds have won a playoff championship since the system was established in Kansas in 1981.
It was Butler's first loss in a playoff championship game since the 2000 season, when the Grizzlies lost in the finals at Garden City. They had won the last seven Kansas championship games in which they had appeared.
That 2000 season was also the last one in which Butler lost to the same team twice in one season as Garden City also won the regular-season meeting that year.
In the new National Junior College Athletic Association/jcfootball.com poll released Monday, the Greyhounds were rewarded for their effort as they were moved up to No. 1. Former No. 1 Navarro lost to No. 3 Blinn in the Southwest Junior College Football Conference Championship Game later in the day on Sunday. Blinn was moved up to No. 2.
Fort Scott scored first on quarterback Dominique Davis' 5-yard bootleg with 14 seconds left in the first quarter. Davis was wide open as he ran around the right side of the line as the Grizzlies keyed on tailback Jasmin Hopkins, who had carried the ball on all but one play of the quarter up to that point.
That drive was set up when Butler punter Logan Ortiz was able to kick the ball just 29 yards into a strong southerly wind, setting Fort Scott up on its own 49-yard line. Hopkins gained 14 yards on a 3rd-and-6 play at the Butler 47 and set up Davis' touchdown with a 20-yard romp on 3rd-and-2 at the 25.
On the very first play of Butler's enduing drive, which was also the last play of the first quarter, Omar Leftwich intercepted Butler quarterback Ross Dausin. But the Greyhounds were not able to move the ball and went three-and-out. Butler took over at the Fort Scott 44 and got some help when the 'Hounds were called for pass interference on 3rd-and-2 at the 36. The spot foul at the 30 kept the Grizzly drive alive. Two plays later, Dausin found Arrison Davis for a 26-yard gain to the 4.
Two plays after that, Butler fullback Dalando Henderson got Butler (8-3) on the board with a 1-yard plunge with 11:14 left in the second quarter. Ortiz's extra-point kick was blocked.
The Grizzlies took advantage of a Fort Scott turnover deep in its own territory to take the lead later in the period as Dausin found tight end Jordan Voekler in the back of the end zone with 6:58 left in the half. A bad snap resulted in another failed conversion so Butler's lead was 12-7.
Turnovers and defense dominated the second half. The Grizzlies were held to 33 total yards, all rushing, in the second half while the 'Hounds managed just 67 total yards themselves.
The conditions led Sims' offensive staff to put the games in the hands of Hopkins and the offensive line. The Jayhawk Conference Offensive Player of the Year, carried the ball 42 times for 157 yards for the 'Hounds, who ran 58 plays and threw just 3 passes. Fort Scott rushed for 156 of its 164 total yards.
There were many plays where Fort Scott used two tight ends and two blocking backs for Hopkins in an attempt to maintain field position and wear down Butler's line.
Butler gained just 111 total yards and was held to 56 yards on 57 rushes. The Greyhounds sacked Dausin 6 times for 46 yards in losses. Anthony White sacked Dausin three times for 26 yards and LaVonte David got to him twice for another 16 yards.
Dausin finished 4 of 14 passing for 55 yards, with all four completions coming in the first half. He failed to complete any of his last 8 passes, one of which was intercepted by linebacker Sam Quilice.
Fort Scott improved its record to 11-5 against ranked teams during Sims' three-year tenure. Sims, the Jayhawk Conference Coach of the Year, has not lost to a top-10 ranked team at home.
"It's easy to be Coach of the Year when you have Jasmine Hopkins, LaVonte David, Yoshi (Jermarcus Hardrick) and all these guys who have worked hard since July," Sims said. "I just think it must be our year because it happened for us today."