Had Chanute managed to complete its rally and win Thursday night's game at Frary Field, it would have been one of the strangest tales in the history of Fort Scott High School football.
Despite dropped passes, overthrows, a series of strange official's calls and a series of plays in which they went backward 15 yards, the visiting Blue Comets managed to get a field goal by A.J. LaRocca to get within a touchdown, recover the ensuing onside kick and give itself a chance.
But the Tigers' defense rose up, getting a huge second-down sack, stopping a third-down trick play short of the first and watching a Hail Mary pass sail over their heads on the final play of the game to come away with a 24-18 victory that clinched both an outright Southeast Kansas League title and the Class 4A District 6 championship.
(Kenny Felt/Exclusive to the Tribune)
The Tigers (6-0 SEK, 3-0 District, 9-0 overall) had clinched a share of the SEK championship three weeks ago, their first since sharing with Columbus in 2006. This was their first solo title since 2004.
Fort Scott held a 24-7 lead after Jacob Durossette scored on a 16-yard run just 47 seconds into the final stanza. But Chanute's Jared Fiscus returned the ensuing kickoff 76 yards for a touchdown and Christian Wiltse was able to pick up a bad snap on the extra point and run it into the end zone for two points to bring the Comets (3-3 SEK, 2-1 District, 5-4 overall) within 24-15.
The Tigers fumbled the ensuing kickoff to Chanute but Johnathan Stark intercepted a pass by Brock Gilmore to keep the Comets off the board for a while.
Fort Scott was able to eat up 5 1/2 minutes but ended up punting and Chanute took over at its own 25-yard line with 2:56 to go. The Comets were faced with a third-and-10 from there but Gilmore found Wiltse for 21 yards, then scrambled for 21 more on the next play.
Stark made the tackle but was knocked groggy and had to leave the game. He didn't return as a precaution against a possible concussion. His status was not known at press time.
Gilmore found Wiltse for two more gains and had first-and-goal at the 17. He overthrew an open receiver on the right sideline for a play that could have resulted in a touchdown.
Then a series of penalties saw the ball move toward the goal line, then away. Gilmore threw three straight incompletions from Fort Scott's 18 and the Comets had to settle for LaRocca's 36-yard field goal with 30 seconds remaining.
Chanute recovered the onside kick at the Fort Scott 48. Gilmore found Derek Sharp for a 20-yard pass play but that was called back due to holding. Chris Davenport sacked Gilmore for an 11-yard loss back to the Chanute 31.
A hook-and-ladder play on third down put the ball at the Fort Scott 49. Then Gilmore overthrew everyone on the Hail Mary play and the Tigers were able to leave the field as victors.
"We felt pretty good up 24-7," Campbell noted. "Kind of disappointed the way we let down in the fourth quarter, there. They had a big kickoff return that hurt us and then a fumble. And when you're playing good teams, you just can't make those mistakes. It kind of gave them a second wind but to our kids' credit, we made some big plays at the end."
Chanute ended the first quarter with more yards but the Tigers held the lead as Marques Floyd scored on a 45-yard run with 10 seconds to go. The extra-point kick was unsuccessful.
The Tigers made it a two-score lead when Floyd took a backward pass from Stark, then heaved the ball to a wide-open Straton Hunziker down the left sideline for a 55-yard scoring play with 8:02 left in the half. Fort Scott went for a 2-point conversion but was unsuccessful.
The Comets then controlled the ball for seven minutes but left with nothing after failing to convert a fourth-and-nine at the Fort Scott 16 with 55 seconds left in the half.
The Comets received the second-half kickoff and held onto the ball for 15 plays and 7:43 with Gilmore sneaking over the line to bring Chanute within 12-7.
Stark found Floyd on a short pass over the middle on the first play of the next drive, which the running back tuned into a 57-yard gain. A Chanute penalty after the play put the ball at the 6-yard line and Floyd scored three plays later from 2 yards out. Another 2-point try failed to leave it at 18-7.
Floyd finished with 83 yards rushing for the Tigers on 11 carries while Durossette gained 47 on 7 carries. Floyd was also the Tigers' leading receiver with 70 yards on 2 catches. Fort Scott completed all four of its passes as Stark was 3 for 3 for 83 yards.
Gilmore completed 11 of 24 passes for 134 yards and was also Chanute's leading rusher with 53 yards on 25 carries. He was sacked five times by the Tiger defense and often danced around the pocket trying to buy time before finally trying to run.
Fort Scott had 307 yards of total offense, 169 on the ground. Chanute finished with 224 yards of offense, just 90 on the ground on 46 rushes, an average of 1.9 yards per carry.
The Tigers will play Louisburg (5-4) in a Class 4A Bi-District Playoff Game at Frary Field Tuesday night at 7 p.m. The Wildcats lost their District 5 finale to Paola Thursday night, 14-7. Chanute will travel to Paola (5-4) Tuesday night to take on the Panthers.
CHANUTE....... 0 0 7 11 -- 18
FORT SCOTT.. 6 6 6 6 -- 24
|Team stats||Chanute||Fort Scott|
FS -- Floyd 45 run (kick failed), :10 [5, 76, 2:21]
FS -- Hunziker 55 pass from Floyd (pass failed), 8:02 [4, 73, 1:56]
C -- Gilmore 2 run (LaRocca kick), 4:10 [15, 54, 7:43]
FS -- Floyd 2 run (pass failed), 2:10 [4, 69, 1:55]
FS -- Durossette 16 run (pass failed), 11:13 [4, 41, :50]
C -- Fiscus 76 kickoff return (Wiltse run), 10:59
C -- FG LaRocca 36, :30 [12, 56, 2:26]
RUSHING: Chanute -- Gilmore 23-53, Smeed 5-22, Kisner 9-11, Van Anne 2-2, Wiltse 1-1, Howell 1-1. Fort Scott -- Floyd 11-82, Durossette 7-47, Stark 7-25, V.Hughes 8-15.
PASSING: Chanute -- Gilmore 11-24-1-134. Fort Scott -- Stark 3-3-0-93, Floyd 1-1-0-55.
RECEIVING: Chanute -- Sharp 4-28, Fairchild 3-47, Wiltse 3-39, Van Anne 1-8, Kisner 0-12. Fort Scott -- Floyd 2-70, Hunziker 1-55, Durossette 1-13.
MISSED FIELD GOALS: None.