BRENHAM, Texas -- No. 1-ranked Blinn College was able to overcome its early turnover problems while No. 3-ranked Fort Scott Community College could not. And that was the difference in a 55-42 Blinn victory in both teams' season opener here Saturday afternoon.
Two interceptions, a fumble and a blocked punt helped give the Buccaneers 28 of their first 35 points and the 35-7 lead they built in the game's first 17 1-2 minutes was too much to overcome as Fort Scott suffered a 55-42 setback.
Each team turned the ball over 5 times and there were 21 penalties called in the game. But a young Greyhound team that returns only one part-time starter from last season spent a great deal of the game getting educated on the speed and physical nature of the college game.
"It took them a while to catch up to the speed of the game," Fort Scott head coach Jeff Sims told KSEK's Matt Newbery afterward. "We have a good team. They just need to learn from this.
"We'll show our character through our growth. I don't think I'll have to worry about our time to respond at home. I'm not down on them. We just need them to learn."
Barely two minutes had elapsed before Blinn got on the board. Blinn broke through to block Chase Tenpenney's punt and Isaiah Hayes picked up the ball on the Fort Scott 3-yard line then walked into the end zone.
The 'Hounds responded as Tenpenney recovered a fumble at the end of a Blinn punt return. Transfer quarterback Blaine Dalton hit receiver Malcom Moulton on the next play with a game-tying 79-yard touchdown strike with a bit more than 11 minutes on the clock.
Blinn's touchdown on the ensuing kickoff was called back on a penalty. But a 49-yard pass from Justin Tuggle to Xavier Maxwell helped set up Tuggle's 2-yard keeper for the touchdown that would put the Bucs ahead for good, 14-7, with 8:20 remaining.
The next three possessions ended with turnovers. The third one, an interception by Blinn's Michon Davis, set up a 6-yard pass from Tuggle to Jacob Bennett to make it 21-7 with 3:24 to go.
The Bucs recovered another fumble just over 20 seconds later and Tuggle hit Philander Moore for a 37-yard scoring strike one play later to make it 35-7 with 2:59 left in the first period.
The next drive for the Greyhounds was the fourth in a row to finish with a turnover and Blinn took advantage again as Marlon Grice took a pitch 11 yards in for a score with 12:25 to go in the second quarter.
Dalton connected with Moulton again with 6:35 left in the half on a 12-yard scoring pass, cutting the deficit to 35-14.
Tuggle hit Moore for a 34-yard scoring pass with 1:19 remaining in the half. But the extra point kick failed, so the halftime margin was 41-14.
Dalton and Moulton connected for a third scoring strike with 9:45 on the clock in the third period, this one from 47 yards out. Kennard Butler's 85-yard interception return set up Dalton's two-yard keeper with 3:40 on the clock to bring Fort Scott within 41-28.
Ziggy Foster scored on a 12-yard run with 1:24 left and a 2-point conversion put the Bucs up 49-28 going into the final stanza.
Cordell Reed scored for the 'Hounds with 10:36 left in the game to make it 49-35. Grice scored his second touchdown with 7:56 to go but the PAT failed again to leave it at 55-35. Greyhound linebacker Jeremy Walker recovered a blocked punt in the end zone with 1:05 remaining for the final score of the contest.
Blinn rushed for 300 yards on 54 carries and finished with 555 yards of total offense. Fort Scott managed only 67 rushing yards on 41 carries and 330 total yards.
Tuggle never saw one of his passes hit the ground as he was 8 of 11 for 263 yards and three touchdowns but was also intercepted three times. Moore caught 2 passes for 71 yards and Maxwell had 2 catches for 69.
Dalton threw for 263 yards but completed only 9 of 30 passes and was intercepted 3 times. During one stretch, he completed only 1 of 9 passes, though the completion was Moulton's third TD.
Moulton hauled down 7 passes for 232 yards. Only two other Greyhounds caught a pass.
Grice finished with 131 yards on 15 carries to lead all rushers. Fort Scott's leader was Martese Jackson, who carried 13 times for 26 yards.
The Greyhounds will play its first home game Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m. at Frary Field. No. 6 Butler will be the opponent, visiting town for the third time in a year. Butler defeated No. 4 Navarro (Texas) 16-10 Thursday night in Wichita despite finishing the game with fewer total yards than the Bulldogs. A Dyllon Knox interception with 59 seconds remaining thwarted Navarro's hope of making a game-winning score.
FORT SCOTT 7 7 14 14 -- 42
BLINN 28 13 8 6 -- 55
B -- Hayes 3 blocked punt return (Vincent kick), 12:47
FS -- Moulton 79 pass from Dalton (Russell kick), 10;52
B -- Tuggle 1 run (Vincent kick), 8:20
B -- Bennett 6 pass from Tuggle (Vincent kick), 3:24
B -- Moore 37 pass from Tuggle (Vincent kick), 2:59
B -- Grice 11 run (Vincent kick), 12:25
FS -- Moulton 12 pass from Dalton (Russell kick), 6:35
B -- Moore 34 pass from Tuggle (kick failed), 1:19
FS -- Moulton 47 pass from Dalton (Russell kick), 9:45
FS -- Dalton 2 run (Russell kick), 3:40
B -- Foster 12 run (Moore pass from Tuggle), 1:24
FS -- Reed 10 run (Russell kick), 10:36
B -- Grice 10 run (kick failed), 7:56
FS -- Je.Walker recovered blocked punt in end zone (Russell kick), 1:05
RUSHING: Fort Scott -- Jackson 13-26, Reed 10-24, Jo.Walker 4-14, Dalton 10-6, Woods 3-3, Bennett 1-minus 6. Blinn -- Grice 15-131, Foster 11-92, Patrick 10-57, Wiklins 2-22, Rutherford 3-19, Searcy 1-2, team 2-minus 2, Tuggle 10-minus 21.
PASSING: Fort Scott -- Dalton 9-30-3-263, Bennett 0-2-0-0. Blinn -- Tuggle 8-11-3-221, Rutherford 1-3-0-34.
RECEIVING: Fort Scott -- Moulton 7-232, Moyland 1-25, Madison 1-6. Blinn -- Moore 2-71, Maxwell 2-69, Battle 2-56, Rutherford 1-31, Doll 1-22, Bennett 1-6.
MISSED FIELD GOALS: Fort Scott -- Russell 43. Blinn -- Vincent 39.