(By Brent Shipman)
That's 'A' as in Austin Atchley, who made the short trip to Chaffee aboard the Rams bus.
The versatile senior was at his best against the Red Devils.
Atchley hauled in two touchdown passes in a game for the first time in his career, blocked his first punt and intercepted a pass. He also pinned the Red Devils inside their own 10-yard line on his only punt of the game for good measure.
It was only a portion of the big plays turned in by Scott City in the Rams' 34-20 victory.
Scott City compensated for fewer offensive yards than Chaffee by forcing four turnovers, blocking the punt and getting a momentum-changing 85-yard kickoff return by senior Zach Cotner in the fourth quarter.
It all helped the Rams improve to 3-2 and avenge last year's 27-13 loss to Chaffee (3-2).
"That was a big part of this year," Atchley said. "They beat us pretty handily last year, and we came out and wanted it a little bit more than they did, I guess."
The Rams' revenge also included two touchdown runs by junior running back Travis Phillips, who rushed for 118 yards on 29 carries.
"We've been wanting it," Phillips said. "It's a big rivalry and our line got off the ball real well and made me some holes to run through."
Atchley's only two receptions on the night went for touchdowns. He capped the Rams' game-opening drive with a 5-yard scoring pass from junior quarterback Jonathan McFall. After Chaffee running back Tyson Estes countered with a 3-yard touchdown run on the next possession, Atchley gave the Rams a 14-6 lead when he pulled in a 37-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter.
"Our passing game bailed us out in the first half," Rams coach Jim May said. "I told them at halftime I wasn't thrilled how our line blocked for our run game in the first half. It got us the lead, and once we got the lead, we did a better job the second half."
First-half bailing out also was provided by the special teams, which made the first of two huge plays.
When Chaffee was forced to punt on the possession following Scott City's second touchdown, Atchley swooped in untouched from the right side and caught the ball flush off the foot of Red Devils punter Jordan Yahn. The play gave Scott City possession at the Chaffee 11 and led to a 1-yard touchdown run by Phillips.
"We worked on that all week long," May said. "We hadn't even went after a punt yet this year, and we put that one in especially for this because we felt we might be able to get it and catch them by surprise, and it worked to perfection. That's always great when things work out like they're supposed to."
May said Atchley had been dropping back with Cotner to return punts much of the year.
"We basically sent everyone but Cotner after it. We sold out to get it," May said.
Phillips' touchdown gave the Rams a 21-6 lead with 1:34 left in the half.
Scott City threatened to increase the lead in the third quarter but was thwarted by its only turnover of the game. The Rams went for a fourth-and-goal from the Chaffee 2, but McFall fumbled the ball into the end zone on a quarterback keeper.
"I probably should have kicked a field goal and go up three scores, but I believed our kids could punch it in," May said. "But then we fumbled it into the end zone. Nine times out of 10 that's a touchdown."
Chaffee took over at its own 20 and put together a 12-play scoring drive. Estes scored on a 5-yard run, and Yahn ran in the 2-point conversion to cut the lead to 21-14 with 8:59 remaining in the game.
Cotner then took Yahn's kickoff at the 15 and dashed up the left side of the field untouched, passing the last Chaffee defenders around midfield. It took the Rams 14 seconds to bolster their waning lead to 28-14 on Cotner's first touchdown return.
"I think we've been overdue for one," Cotner said. "We've had some great blocks, and one guy always waits there at the end. We finally got one and we were very happy about that. It set the tone for the game right there because right off one of their scores and they score two, and we answer right back real fast."
Scott City junior defensive back Forrest Copeland intercepted Yahn two plays later to give the Rams possession in Chaffee territory. The Rams used seven running plays to extend their lead to 34-14 with 4:09 left. Phillips carried on the final six, including a 14-yard jaunt to ice the game.
Yahn closed the scoring on a 1-yard run in the final minutes.
Scott City finished with 243 yards, while Chaffee accumulated 318 yards.
"I guess total yards is a concession I'll give up," May said. "I don't like that, but I'd rather have the W."
The Rams had 143 yards rushing on 39 carries, while McFall completed 6 of 9 passes for 100 yards. Cotner had three catches for 53 yards.
Estes rushed for a game-high 137 yards on 25 carries.
"He was our focus and we were going to try to corral him," May said. "I don't know how many yards he ended up with, but probably too many. But we did a fair job. Not great, but it was fair."
Estes only had three runs longer than 10 yards, with a best of 20 yards.
"I was trying, but they locked me in there," Estes said. "I couldn't get out. They've got good speed, too. I think we underestimated them a little bit. They're a real good football team."
The Red Devils had 188 yards rushing, while Yahn completed 11 of 16 passes for 130 yards. He was intercepted twice.
"We made mistakes that we haven't been making the first four games," Chaffee coach Charlie Vickery said. "You can't have the turnovers and the blocked punt. They played well. You have to give them credit. We made mistakes and they didn't. Our kids will bounce back. We just need to clean up a few things."
The 34 points were a season high for the Rams. Their third win of the season also surpassed the totals in May's first two years at Scott City, which both ended with 2-8 records.
"Three wins is not our goal," May said. "We want to try to compete for our conference and we want to compete for our district and get to the playoffs. And we have to keep improving to do that. We've got a tough schedule ahead of us, but we're heading in the right direction."
Scott City 7 14 0 13 -- 34
Chaffee 0 6 0 14 -- 20
SC -- Austin Atchley 5 pass from Jonathan McFall (McFall kick), 3:33
C -- Tyson Estes 3 run (kick fails), 10:05
SC -- Atchley 37 pass from McFall (McFall kick), 5:01
SC -- Travis Phillips 1 run (McFall kick), 1:34
C -- Estes 5 run (Jordan Yahn kick), 8:59
SC -- Zach Cotner 85 kick return (McFall kick), 8:45
SC -- Phillips 14 run (kick fails), 4:09
C -- Yahn 1 run (run fails), 2:05
First downs (Scott City-Chaffee) 15 21
Rushes-yards 39-143 40-188
Passing yards 100 130
Passes 6-9-0 11-16-2
Punts 1-44 1-48
Fumbles-Lost 1-1 3-2
Penalties-Yards 5-27 5-49
RUSHING -- Scott City, Phillips 29-118, Gordy Bradley 6-28, McFall 4-(-3); Chaffee, Estes 25-137, Trevor Cannon 2-20, Jimmy Golden 4-7, Yah 5-15, Charlie Montgomery 4-9.
PASSING -- Scott City, McFall 6-9-0-100; Chaffee, 11-16-2-130.
RECEIVING -- Scott City, Cotner 3-53, Atchley 2-42, Phillips 1-5; Chaffee, Montgomery 3-45, Zach Dannenmueller 6-60, Estes 2-25.