(Kenny Felt/Captured Images)
After getting within one point on a 24-yard touchdown pass from Cory Turner to Alan Williams as the clock hit 0:00 here Friday night, visiting Coffeyville decided to try a "swinging gate" play on the conversion to try to get two points and steal a victory from Fort Scott High. The play had worked earlier in the game for a successful conversion.
But Fort Scott's defense fought through the line and stopped Coffeyville's run short of the goal line on the game's final play to preserve a 28-27 victory in Southeast Kansas League play.
"I didn't know if Coffeyville would kick it and go to overtime," Fort Scott head coach Bob Campbell said. "I think their last extra point (a missed kick) maybe had something to do with that. We were saying they could go for two and if they did, they might go for the swinging gate. And then a couple of our kids made the play."
It's the first time the Tigers (1-1 SEK and overall) have not been under the .500 mark since the second game of the 2008 season.
The Golden Tornado (0-2, 0-2) took over at their own 0 with 2:13 remaining in the game. In a game of big plays, it looked as if defensive lineman Reed Ramsey had made the biggest one when he sacked Turner to make it second-and-10 from the Fort Scott 45 with time running down.
Instead of spiking the ball to stop the clock, Turner hit Cameron Craig for 12 yards on the next play and then scrambled for 9 more to set up the touchdown pass to Williams, who managed to find space in the back of the end zone and keep a foot inbounds as he hauled in the pass.
Coffeyville took a time out and decided to go for the swinging gate, which is a play where the kicker, holder and center line up in normal positions but the rest of the team lines up on one side of the field or the other. Most of the time, the line motions back to its normal place and the offensive team kicks the extra point.
But for the second time, the Nado tried the quick snap to the back behind the line. And this time, the Tigers had it sniffed out.
"That was an emotional, hard-fought, intense, overcoming adversity type of win," Campbell said. "I'm so proud of our kids. We've asked them to work so hard, put so much time and effort into it and they've bought in completely. So we wanted for them to have success and, in this case, a win."
Johnathan Stark's interception, which he brought back 32 yards, thwarted Coffeyville's first drive and gave the Tigers a chance to get on the board early. But, although it appeared the Nado tackler actually threw Jaret Thorpe past the first-down marker on fourth-and-3 at the Coffeyville 12, the officials marked the ball one yard shy of a first down.
Another big play helped get the Tigers on the board late in the quarter. Griffin Knopp concentrated after Craig tipped a pass, hauled it in and ran down to the Coffeyville 4 for a 53-yard gain. Two plays later, Thorpe went up the middle for the first of his two touchdowns with 2:52 on the clock.
Coffeyville got to the Fort Scott 39 on its ensuing possession. But Turner threw incomplete passes on third down and fourth down, leaving the Nado 3 yards short of converting.
A 17-play, 74-yard drive that consumed almost the last 5 minutes of the half produced the Tiger's second touchdown, a 2-yard screen pass from Trevor Swim to tight end Tony Jackson with tackle Drew Bryant providing the lead block. Knopp's second PAT kick made it 14-0 with 13 seconds left in the half.
Both teams made offensive adjustments at the half and Coffeyville got to shot its work first, getting within 8 as Jordan Fields scored over the left side from 9 yards out with 8:59 on the clock. Cody Hurlbutt kicked the extra point.
That was an 8-play, 66-yard drive after the Golden Tornado had gained just 72 total yards in the first half.
Fort Scott's chance to test its revised strategy on the ensuing possession after Thorpe returned the kickoff 47 yards to the Nado 30. The 8-play drive -- on which every play was a run between the tackles --resulted in Swim's 1-yard keeper with 4:14 to go.
"We started kind of playing old-school, smash-mouth football in the second half," Campbell said. "I was proud of how the kids responded."
Coffeyville responded quickly, although it almost didn't get the chance as it appeared that Ramsey had fallen on a fumble on the first play of the drive. The Nado retained possession and, two plays later, Turner hit Craig on a 78-yard scoring strike. Wesley Collins ran in the 2-point conversion off the swinging gate to bring the Nado within 21-15 with 1:27 left in the third.
"I thought that was the biggest play of the game," Campbell said. "That got (Coffeyville) back in the game. If we hold them there and we're up two touchdowns, I felt pretty good about our chances."
Turner brought the Tornado into a 21-21 tie when he connected with Jacob Meyer with less than a minute gone in the fourth quarter on a 43-yard pass play. But a bad snap on the extra point kick forced the holder to try and run for two. Thorpe and Josh Durossette were there to stop him.
"We knew that, offensively, they had a lot of weapons and it was just going to be a matter of time before they got those guys involved."
The Tigers' ground game found success on the next possession. But then Fort Scott found itself with a key decision to make on fourth-and-3 from the Coffeyville 22 with just under eight minutes remaining.
Swim rolled to his right and found Luke Brown who dove for the end zone but was called out at the 1-yard line. Thorpe scored from there on the next play to put the Tigers up 28-21 with 7:14 to go.
The defense forced a Coffeyville punt on the next possession but the Tigers had to punt it back with 2:24 to go.
At game's end, Coffeyville had 392 total yards to Fort Scott's 256. Turner completed 9 of 12 passes for 200 yards in the second half. Craig finished the game with 6 receptions for 131 yards, all in the second half.
Fort Scott rushed for 180 yards led by Thorpe's 87 on 21 carries. Dane Cummings followed with 43 yards on 11 runs.
The Tigers will play at Independence next Friday night. The Bulldogs will have sort of a short week as their game at Osawatomie was suspended Friday night due to lightning and will not be finished until Monday night.