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Defense rises to occasion in Fort Scott victory

Saturday, September 17, 2011

(Photo)
Fort Scott's Jason Thorpe takes a handoff from quarterback Johnathan Stark during the first half of play at Frary Field in Fort Scott, Kan., Friday night. Thorpe was the leading rusher for the Tigers with 131 yards in a 14-0 victory over Independence in Southeast Kansas League play.
(Kenny Felt/Captured Images)
FORT SCOTT -- Fort Scott's defense stopped visiting Independence five times in its Tiger territory here Friday night, including three times inside the Fort Scott 30-yard line as the Tigers claimed a 14-0 victory in Southeast Kansas League play.

Indy advanced past midfield three times in the first half alone but came away with nothing to show for it.

"Defense was why we won the game tonight," Fort Scott head coach Bob Campbell said. "Everybody likes to talk about offense. But I've always felt that if you're good on defense, you always have a chance to win."

(Photo)
Fort Scott's Dane Cummings (36) breaks a tackle during the first half of play at Frary Field in Fort Scott, Kan., Friday night. Cummings rushed for 77 yards and scored both Tiger touchdowns in a 14-0 victory over Independence in Southeast Kansas League play.
(Captured Images/Kenny Felt)
Fort Scott, 3-0 for the first time since 2004, held Independence to 111 yards of total offense, less than 2 yards per play. The Tigers rushed for 270 of their 284 yards of offense .

The game was expected to be a tough battle and it was actually the Bulldogs (1-1 SEK, 2-1 overall) who made the first stop of the night, denying Jason Thorpe on a fourth-and-3 play at the Indy 27.

Easton Julian's interception later in the quarter went unrewarded as Independence managed to drive for just 10 yards and was forced to punt from the Fort Scott 38. The 'Dogs also had the ball first in the second quarter only to have Demonta Clark turned away on fourth-and-7 at the Fort Scott 33.

John Metcalf's first of two sacks on the night killed yet another Independence drive when he tackled quarterback Dalton Shaffer behind the line of scrimmage on fourth-and-4 at the Tiger 22.

Fort Scott's offense switched out of its traditional spilt-back veer look on the ensuing drive and went to a spread formation. The ploy worked as it forced Independence to get out of its 8- and 9-man fronts and the Tigers began to find holes. Quarterback Johnathan Stark's keeper from the Indy 33 gained 31 yards and set up Dane Cumming's 2-yard touchdown run with 5:21 left in the half. The Tigers faked an extra-point kick but were unable to get any score, leaving it at 6-0.

"Indy kind of sold out," Campbell said of the Bulldog defense. "When we executed, we found big plays. When they guessed right, they were able to stop us.

"I was proud of the way we were able to execute our offense. At times, it can get frustrating because you miss some opportunities. But we got 284 yards against a good defense."

Independence drove to Fort Scott's 22-yard line with less than 20 seconds to go in the half but Shaffer overthrew an open receiver on fourth down with two seconds remaining.

Fort Scott continued to find holes in the Independence defense, scoring on its first possession of the second half on a 6-yard run from Cummings with 6:27 left in the third. The 2-point conversion was unsuccessful.

Indy's defense was frustrated again on the ensuing possession, driving 59 yards16 plays -- over half it's total offense for the entire game -- only to be stopped at the Fort Scott 12 less than a minute into the fourth quarter. The Tigers then drove 86 yards in 15 plays -- getting a major boost when Thorpe scampered for 23 yards on third-and-15 from his own 8 -- making it to the Indy 2. Although they couldn't convert a fourth-down play there, they burned roughly 7 1/2 minutes off the clock.

Then the defense scored on the next play when Independence tailback Courtlan Hayes slipped in his own end zone, resulting in a safety with 3:39 left in the game.

Thorpe finished as the Tigers' leading rusher for the night with 131 yards on 18 carries. Cummings finished with 77 on 15 totes. Hayes was the Bulldogs' leader with 36 yards on 19 carries while Demonta Clark was held to one yard on 6 rushes.

Fort Scott will attempt to go to 4-0 at Parsons next Friday. The Vikings won one of the stranger games ever played over Labette County, 21-20. At one point in the fourth quarter, according to KLKC Radio, the Grizzlies (0-3) had outgained the Vikings 350 yards to minus-6. But Parsons scored all three of its touchdowns on plays of 85 yards or more -- two kickoff returns and a 92-yard pass play -- to improve to 3-0 on the season.



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