NEO dominates 'Hounds in season finale
Fort Scott Community College's football season went out with a whimper Saturday afternoon as Northeastern Oklahoma A&M resumed its series with the Greyhounds right where it left off, taking a 49-7 victory in the season finale for both schools.
NEO (5-6) claimed its 12th consecutive victory in the series, which had been idle since 2005. Fort Scott (4-7) has only two victories in the series in 23 meetings, which came in 1973 and 1975.
Greyhound fans also saw Devin Taylor's quest to become the nation's leading rusher come to a premature end in the third quarter when a leg injury caused him to leave the game. He finished with just 62 yards on 19 carries and finished third in the nation by the NJCAA's official measure, yards per game, with an average of 166.7. Justin Crawford of Northwest Mississippi finished No. 1 with an average of 172.3 yards per game while Keaun Kinner of Navarro, Texas, is second with an average of 169.6. Kinner's team might end up in a bowl game, which will count toward his season totals.
By total yards, Kinner leads with 1,696 in 10 games with Taylor second with 1,667 in 10 games. Since Taylor will not have a chance to play in a bowl game, Kinner will remain ahead. Crawford had 1,551 yards in 9 games and could also play in a bowl game.
Considering that the 'Hounds lost by just 18 points to then-No. 1 Iowa Western the week before, that NEO played that much better against Fort Scott was somewhat stunning. The Golden Norsemen scored on the game's opening drive, driving 75 yards in 11 plays for Cameron Booty's 8-yard touchdown run with 9:37 on the clock.
Fort Scott's first possession ended when NEO linebacker Chris Baccus picked the ball out of the air after a deflection..
NEO's second touchdown came on a 52-yard run by punter Cole Moos with six seconds left in the first quarter. NEO's coach in the box -- a gentlemen who was happy to explain how the play worked -- said that this was a planned play, with Moos having the option to rugby punt if he saw he didn't have room or keep in or run if he saw the coverage peel back too soon.
Not only did the coverage peel back, it also got caught setting up for a return on the opposite side of the field from which Moos ran. He had at least six blockers escorting him down the far sideline with only one tackler in the way.
Fort Scott elected to pull a rabbit out of the hat on the ensuing series with punter Matt Vincent rolling out and connecting on a pass to Landon James-Wilson, who weaved through some early traffic before scoring 54 seconds into the second quarter. Blayke Lindenman's extra point brought Fort Scott within 14-7.
NEO answered on the ensuing possession with quarterback Dezmond Stegall finding Samory Collier wide open over the middle for a 34-yard scoring strike on a third-and-14 play with 11:11 on the clock.
NEO's next score came on another third-and-long but this time from deep in its own territory. Back at their own 13 for third-and-16, Wilson found Gary McKnight, Jr., on the left sideline for an 87-yard touchdown with 2:56 to go in the half. The Norsemen's lead was now 28-7.
The Norse scored two touchdowns in less than a minute early in the third quarter. The first came on a 2-yard run by backup running back Jesse Gregory with 10:16 on the clock. Then Courtlan Hayes fumbled the ensuing kickoff and NEO recovered at the Fort Scott 30-yard line. Two plays later, from that spot, Stegall connected with Collier for their second TD collaboration of the day with 9:21 on the clock. That made it 42-7.
Quentin Nails finished things off by returning an interception 23 yards with 5:57 left in the game.
Fort Scott did not get its first first down of the second half until there were fewer tun five minutes remaining in the game. Backup running back Kyle Hammond helped the Greyhounds get to the NEO 16-yard line but the drive stalled there with incomplete passes on third and fourth down.
For the second consecutive game, Fort Scott did not score a touchdown with its regular offense. The Greyhounds finished with 131 yards rushing on 50 carries and 235 in total offense. They had just 11 first downs.
NEO finished with 422 yards in total offense, 230 in the air, and 17 first downs. Stegall completed 13 of 23 passes for 230 yards. Booty finished with 88 yards rushing on 27 carries.
Hammond ended up as the leading rusher for the 'Hounds with 68 yards on 19 carries. Walbridge completed only 7 of 24 passes for 42 yards with two interceptions.
NOTES -- Fort Scott scored only 12 points in its final two games after scoring 56 in wins over Garden City and Independence. The last time the offense was held out of the end zone in back-to-back games was in 2005 and 2006. The 'Hounds lost a Jayhawk Conference playoff game to Butler, 57-0, on Oct. 23, 2005, and were shut out on the road at Navarro, 12-0, on Aug. 26, 2006....
Walbridge went 22 of 39 for 182 yards in a loss to Ellsworth on October 11 at Frary Field. On the NFL quarterback rating scale, that performance was worth 68.5 points, which isn't great but isn't horrid, either.
In the four games after that, Walbridge completed only 28 of 75 passes (37 percent) for 230 yards (3.1 yards per attempt) and one touchdown against three interceptions. On the NFL scale, that's a rating of 53.7. Saturday's performance rated a 4.9....
Bowl game matchups were announced Tuesday. There will be only two representatives from the Jayhawk Conference in bowl games this season. No. 4 Hutchinson will face No. 19 Hudson Valley in the Salt City Bowl in Hutchinson on December 6. And No. 10 Coffeyville will face No. 3 Trinity Valley in the CHAMPS Heart of Texas Bowl in Copperas Cove on December 6. Butler was left out of the bowl picture with three losses. Also, there are no longer bowl games in Pittsburg, Bryan, Texas and Syracuse, N.Y., leaving six fewer bowl spots....
NEO A&M......... 14 14 14 7 -- 49
FORT SCOTT... 0 7 0 0 -- 7
|Team stats||NEO||Fort Scott|
NEO -- Booty 8 run (Rui kick), 9:37 [11, 75, 5:23]
NEO -- Moos 52 run (Rui kick), :06 [5, 72, 1:27]
FS -- James-Wilson 62 pass from Vincent (Lindeman kick), 14:06 [4, 70, :59]
NEO -- Collier 34 pass from Stegall (Rui kick), 11:11 [6, 64, 2:55]
NEO -- McKnight 87 pass from Stegall (Rui kick), 2:56 [3, 81, 1:28]
NEO -- Gregory 2 run (Rui kick), 10:16 [7, 58, 1:58]
NEO -- Collier 30 pass from Stegall (Rui kick), 9:21 [2, 30, :49]
NEO -- Nails 23 interception return (Rui kick), 5:57
RUSHING: NEO -- Booty 27-88, Moos 1-52, Stegall 11-28, Washington 3-19, Gregory 4-8, team 1-minus 3. Fort Scott -- Hammond 19-68, D.Taylor 19-62, Hayes 4-12, Metcalf 3-3, Twombly 1-2, Chevis 1-minus 4, Walbridge 3-minus 12.
PASSING: NEO -- Stegall 13-23-1-230. Fort Scott -- Walbridge 7-24-2-42, Vincent 1-1-0-62.
RECEIVING: NEO -- McKinght 3-98, Jennings 3-43, Collier 2-64, Warren 1-28, Robinson 2-4, Herman 1-3. Fort Scott -- Green 3-10, Gougler 2-12, D.Taylor 2-12, James-Wilson 1-62, Stegall 0-8.
MISSED FIELD GOALS: None.