PITTSBURG, Kan. -- Fort Scott High went 70 yards on a 20-play drive that consumed over 9 1/2 minutes of the first quarter here Friday night and didn't get a score out of it. But what they did get from it set things up for success later in the game as the Tigers went on to beat rival Pittsburg, 41-20, in a battle of Southeast Kansas League co-leaders at Hutchinson Field.
It was the first win for the Tigers (2-0 SEK, 3-0 overall) over the Purple Dragons (2-1, 2-1) since 2004, breaking a seven-game losing streak to Pittsburg. It was the most points Fort Scott has scored against the Dragons since a 75-0 victory in 1920.
Despite the fact the senior running back Marques Floyd was at about 70-percent according to Fort Scott head coach Bob Campbell, the Tigers rushed for 265 yards on 49 carries. In the second half, the Tigers outrushed the Dragons 183-40.
"We were able to get the ball inside the tackles and run the ball well," Campbell said. "We worked hard this week on doing a better job up front. I thought our offensive line was exceptional tonight. And (that first drive) gave us the ability to control the clock a little bit and keep an explosive offense off the field for a while. It set the tone and we saw some things that we could try to keep doing."
Fort Scott's first score came by stopping the run in a key situation following a scoreless first quarter. One play after Zach Woods got lost in coverage and hauled in a 33-yard pass from Pittsburg quarterback, Spencer Bernhardt, the defense forced Anthony McNeely to fumble. Race Kastl scooped the ball up and ran it back 88 yards for the touchdown with 5:22 to go in the second period.
Pittsburg answered on the next drive as Bernhardt and Woods connected for a 29-yard gain to the Fort Scott 31 and Barnes ran for 25 yards to the 6. Two plays later, Bernhardt kept the ball over the goal line to tie the game 7-7 with 3:25 remaining.
It didn't stay tied long as Jash Pytlowany stuck with the play after he muffed the ensuing kickoff at his one 4-yard line. After gathering the bouncing ball in, he was able to run down the left sideline untouched at Pittsburg overpursued the play and scored a go-ahead touchdown with 3:06 on the clock.
Bernhardt and Woods connected again to tie the score on a 31-yard pass with 1:19 left in the half. But the Tigers took the first possession of the second half and again established its running game, finding success between the tackles with Jacob Durossette and Victor Hughes. Quarterback Johnathan Stark capped the 11-play, 75-yard drive with a sneak from one yard out with 6:45 on the clock. However, the PAT kick hit the left goalpost, so the Tiger lead was just 20-14.
Durossette rushed seven times for 66 yards in the second half while Stark gained 60 on 6 rushes and Hughes added 41 on nine totes.
"Duro and Victor (Hughes) both ran the ball really hard," Campbell said. "Marcus was about 70 percent tonight and hopefully, we continue to get him a bit healthier each week. But I thought the game was won on both sides up front. Our offensive and defensive lines both played well. I was really pleased with how hard we played and how well we executed."
The defense was able to force Pittsburgh to punt on its only possession of the third period a touchback put the ball at Fort Scott's 20 and the Tigers began to march again.
With the run now firmly established, Stark threw in a couple of passes on the drive. He found Straton Hunziker open behind the coverage in the end zone on the first play of the fourth quarter to make it 26-14. The Tigers went for two points but were unsuccessful.
A two-score lead didn't clinch the game in Campbell's mind.
"There was a lot more work to do," Campbell said. "You're never satisfied until you see zeroes on the clock. Johnathan Stark made some really key throws at some key times. That was a play-action pass on outside veer and Straton ran a great route. Those are the things in games like this, plays that have to be made and we were able to make them. And then we were able to control the clock with the running game and that was huge for us down the stretch."
With only one time out, Pittsburg had to make plays, The Dragons converted one fourth down during the ensuing drive but lost a fumble on fourth-and-one at their own 45 later. Fort Scott recovered and killed 5 minutes and 13 seconds with an 11-play, 45-yard drive that ended with Hughes' touchdown run with 3:28 to go. Hunziker caught the 2-point conversion pass from Stark to make it 34-14.
Pittsburg returned the kickoff to its own 44 but 15 more yards were added on at the end due to a personal foul penalty. Bernhardt connected on 3 of 4 passes on the drive to set up Barnes' 5-yard TD run with 1:54 to go. The extra-point kick was unsuccessful, leaving the Dragons down 34-20.
Pittsburg tried the onside kick but the Tigers recovered it at their own 45. Hughes gained eight yards on the first two plays, then Stark kept on an option to the left intending to get a first down but finding himself in the open for a clinching 48-yard touchdown run with 34 seconds to go.
Fort Scott finished with 354 yards of total offense to Pittsburg's 304, outgaining the Dragons 266-176 in the second half. Stark and Durossette each rushed for 88 yards while Hughes had 47. Barnes rushed for 91 yards for the Dragons but managed only 29 yards on seven second-half carries.
Stark completed 5 of 9 passes for 89 yards, three to Hunziker for 72 yards. Bernhardt finished 7 of 10 for 144 yards with five of those passes going to Woods for 126 yards.
The Tigers will play with a share of the league lead up for grabs once again Friday night as Coffeyville will vsit Frary Field. The Golden Tornado (2-0, 3-0) defeated Iola, 40-20, in a non-league game. Meanwhile, Chanute (2-0, 2-1) whipped Parsons, 61-0, in another league contest.
FORT SCOTT.... 0 14 6 21 -- 41
PITTSBURG.... 0 14 0 6 -- 20
|Team stats||Fort Scott||Pittsburg|
FS - Kastl 88 fumble return (J.Allen kick), 5:22
P - Bernhardt 2 run (Powers kick), 3:25 [5, 64, 1:55]
FS - Pytlowany 94 kickoff return (J.Allen kick), 3:06
P - Woods 31 pass from Bernhardt (Powers kick), 1:19 [7, 69, 2:47]
FS - Stark 1 run (kick failed), 6:45 [11, 75, 5:10]
FS - Hunziker 36 pass from Stark (run failed), 11:53 [7, 80, 3:25]
FS - V.Hughes 4 run (Hunziker pass from Stark), 3:28 [11, 45, 5:13]
P - Barnes 5 run (kick failed), 1:54 [5, 41, 2:27]
FS - Stark 48 run (J.Allen kick), :34 [3, 55, 1:20]
RUSHING: Fort Scott - Stark 11-88, Durossette 13-88, V.Hughes 12-47, Kastl 4-25, Floyd 9-17. Pittsburg - Barnes 17-91, Bernhardt 10-45, A.McNeely 5-21, Vacca 4-5, team 1-minus 2.
PASSING: Fort Scott - Stark 5-9-0-89. Pittsburg - Bernhardt 7-10-0-144.
RECEIVING: Fort Scott - Hunziker 372, V.Hughes 1-11, Durossette 1-6. Pittsburg - Woods 5-126, Woods 2-18.
MISSED FIELD GOALS: None.