(Photos by Kenny Felt/Special to the Tribune)
The Greyhounds (4-4) went 4-3 against Jayhawk Conference opponents and showed they were the fourth-best team in the league this season. But that will never be acknowledged by state or national powers as the probation the football program was put on in August made them ineligible for post-season play and excluded them from being listed in the standings.
After opening the season against teams that are currently ranked first (Blinn) and fourth (Butler) in the nation, Fort Scott went 4-2 the rest of the way, losing only to nationally-ranked Hutchinson and Coffeyville. They were the only KJCCC team to score an offensive touchdown against Butler this season and held leads against Hutchinson and Coffeyville.
Jackson became the first Jayhawk Conference running back to pass the 1,000-yard mark this season and he only had eight games in which to do that.
"Also the fact that if you remember back to the beginning of the season, I kind of got mad at him," Horton said. "I didn't let him play until the very end of the (Independence) game. So he got 1,100 yards in pretty much seven games. That's a great compliment to Martese and the offense as a whole. Our offensive line takes a lot of pride in having a 1,000-yard rusher for the season. So I was proud of the team as a whole."
Four plays later, on fourth-and-one at the four, Fort Scott quarterback Matt Bollig followed a powerful surge from his offensive line to score on a sneak with 10:46 left in the period. Drew Russell nailed the extra point.
Highland (1-8) went three-and-out but Gary Flack's punt pinned Fort Scott back at its own 7-yard line. But Jackson had two big runs on consecutive plays. The first was a 30-yard gain to the Fort Scott 46. The next was his 54-yard touchdown run with 6:29 on the clock. Russell's kick made it 14-0.
The Scottie's wishbone offense would get on the board -- something rare for Highland this season -- when Buggs cut a keeper up the middle of the defense from 53 yards out with 4:19 to go in the period. Flack converted the extra point.
Buggs was Highland's fourth quarterback of the season, moving there from defensive back three games into the season. This was just his second start.
" We knew offensively that they were dangerous," Horton said. "They run that bone and triple option. That No. 5 (Latavious Willis), he has some speed. The coaches on the defensive side of the ball did a great job in scheming him."
Willis was held to one yard on seven carries and had four rushes for negative yards. In fact, Highland had 19 plays result in no gain or negative yards and just five plays go for more than five yards.
Cameron Cole returned the ensuing kickoff 88 yards for the 'Hounds and Marceice Jackson ran for the 2-point conversion out of the swinging gate formation to make it 22-7 with 4:07 to go.
Jacob Woten recovered a bad Highland pitch at the Highland 9, setting up Russell's 30-yard field goal with 45 seconds left that boosted the lead to 25-7.
The only other score of the half was Buggs' 30-yard keeper with 4:37 remaining, which was st up by a Luke Ninemire interception return.
"When you have to play assignment (defense) with the triple option, it wears you out mentally," Horton said. "'I've gotta do my job, gotta do my job.' It's a great scheme. Back in the 80's, that was the offense. You've got to do your job every time because they wait for you to make a mental mistake. But I thought our defense did a tremendous job, except for those two big plays."
Fort Scott made it to the Highland 6 on its first possession of the second half. But Russell hooked the ball wide left on a 27-yard field-goal attempt. The Scotties, however, got even worse on offense, gaining just 21 yards on 19 second-half plays.
Russell booted a 22-yard field goal four seconds into the fourth quarter, capping an 11-play, 82-yard drive that consumed 4:10, making it 28-14.
Sophomore Jeffery Jones handled the ball on each play of the game's final scoring drive, going in from 5 yards out with 22 seconds remaining. The snap on the extra-point attempt skipped on the ground as it came to the holder, leading to Russell's first missed PAT of the season.
Fort Scott finished with 431 yards of total offense. The Greyhounds rushed the ball 72 times for 415 yards. Luke Lundy added 82 yards on 12 carries. Fort Scott also had 20 first downs. Because the 'Hounds rushed the ball so well, Bollig attempted just 6 passes, completing 3 for 16 yards.
Highland had just 5 first downs all day and finished with 120 yards rushing and minus-1 yard passing on its only attempt. Buggs ran for 77 yards on 18 carries.
The Region VI Playoffs begin Sunday without the Greyhounds, who finished with a better record than the fourth qualifier, Dodge City. But the team that many were concerned about since there was "nothing to play for" finished on a high note, winning on Homecoming in its final game of the season.
NOTES -- Fort Scott scored two offensive touchdowns against Butler. The only other team with offensive scores against the Grizzlies so far this year is Navarro, which had two. Butler shut out Highland and Garden City, allowed only field goals to Independence and Coffeyville, saw Air Force Prep score on a fumble return by its defense while Dodge City and Hutchinson scored on punt returns....
The Region VI Playoffs begin Sunday with Dodge City (3-3 conference, 3-6 overall) playing at No. 4 Butler (6-0, 8-1), which had last week off, and Coffeyville (4-2, 6-3,) traveling to Hutchinson (5-1, 7-2). No. 15 Hutch beat No. 17 Coffeyville, 42-17, Saturday night at Coffeyville....
Dodge City lost at Air Force Prep, 46-34, Saturday afternoon and qualifies for the playoffs for the first time since 2005, the last season all eight teams got in. But Dodge was the No. 4 seed that year and upset Butler in the semifinals before falling to Coffeyville in the championship game....