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Fourth-quarter rally leads Scott City football team past St. Vincent
PERRYVILLE, Mo. -- The rain was driving, and the Rams' offense was not.
Another wave of rain from the remnants of Hurricane Isaac was pelting the football field at St. Vincent High School, and Scott City appeared marooned at its own 5-yard line with less than six minutes left in a tied game.
The Rams had taken possession at their own 11-yard line and regressed on a run for no gain and a procedure penalty that left them with a second-and-15 play.
St. Vincent senior quarterback Trent Elder was seeing an opportunity unfold for his own team's offense.
"We thought, 'Let's just get a stop there, and make them snap in that pouring rain in their end zone, and at worst we thought we'd get the ball at about our 30,'" Elder said. "We'd run some clock and at worst kick a field goal and win it.' But that's not how things go all the time."
Not Friday night, anyway.
Scott City saw an opportunity of its own, and tight end Ryan Fortner seized the moment and a pass from quarterback Jonathan McFall to help the Rams to a 29-20 victory.
The run-oriented Rams surprised the Indians with a 70-yard pass play with the score tied 20-20.
"We had a blown coverage, and they had the right play called," St. Vincent coach Paul Sauer said. "We were figuring them to try to run it and just get it out of there, punt it out. Likewise, we had man coverage there, and we just didn't run with our man. Bad combination."
McFall lofted a pass through the heavy downpour to his tight end Fortner, who was wide open behind the Indians' defense.
"We hit the tight end hot," Scott City coach Jim May said. "They were selling out. They had 11 people in the box, and we're going to throw the football. I have faith in Jon, and I've got faith in Ryan Fortner."
May's faith in a senior tight end playing his first year of football was rewarded.
And while Fortner may be short on experience on the football field, he's been in big moments for the Rams in baseball and basketball during his high school years.
"It's adversity. Our coaches really teach us to go through it, at practices and everything," Fortner said. "I saw the ball in the air and it was a little slippery, and I was a little scared. I just told myself, ‘Just catch the ball and run as hard as you can.'"
The 6-foot, 226-pound Fortner accomplished all that until he was dragged down from behind by Indians defensive back Jesse Francis at the St. Vincent 25 for a 70-yard gain.
"That was big. I was just running down the field, running and cheering him on," Rams senior running back Travis Phillips said. "He didn't play football last year, so to see him come out and do that, it just feels great."
Three plays later, McFall completed the five-play drive with a 13-yard run with 3 minutes, 24 seconds remaining. The extra point failed, but the Rams led 26-20.
Scott City (2-0) then stripped a St. Vincent kickoff returner for the second time in the half to regain possession and secure the win.
The Rams took over at the St. Vincent 34, picked up one first down and iced the win with a 28-yard field goal by McFall on fourth down with 17 seconds remaining.
The field goal capped a 23-point fourth quarter for Scott City, which trailed 13-6 at the start of the period.
Scott City had taken a 6-0 lead into halftime on a 14-yard run by senior fullback Zach Haynes during the second quarter. The first half was played in a steady rain, which disappeared at the start of the second half.
St. Vincent's spread offense thrived in the drier opening moments of the second half with touchdowns on its first two possessions. Trenton Gremaud pulled in a 9-yard pass before Elder scored on a 7-yard run for a 13-6 lead with 2:50 left in the third quarter.
"We picked up the intensity a heck of a lot more than we did the first half," Gremaud said. "The first half was rough for everybody. We said in the locker room, ‘We need to pick up. We're way better than this.' And that's what we came out doing, just in the end we had too many turnovers and it wasn't enough."
The first turnover came on the kickoff following a 9-yard scoring run by Phillips, which came on the fourth play of the fourth quarter and tied the scored at 13-13.
Scott City needed just three plays to drive 38 yards to take the lead after the turnover. Haynes appeared to be stopped for a short gain up the middle, but he broke free for a 32-yard scamper for a 20-13 lead with 9:32 left in the game.
St. Vincent retaliated with a 36-yard scoring pass from Elder to Gremaud with 7:16 left and intensified its momentum when Gremaud recovered the ensuing squibbed kickoff at the Rams' 46.
The Indians (1-1) failed to convert a first down but pinned the Rams at their own 11 on the punt by Dylan Richardet.
"When we got the ball back, I thought, ‘Now's our time,'" Sauer said. "And then we couldn't do nothing with it. That's high school football. When you get those opportunities, you've got to seize the moment, and tonight Scott City did and we came up on the short end."
Phillips led the Rams with 126 yards rushing on 28 carries. His second 100-yard rushing performance of the season helped the Rams to their first 2-0 start since 2008.
"The last couple of years we wouldn't of won this game, battling through adversity like that," Phillips said. "We'd just quit and shut off. This year we're working hard and got the win tonight."
It was the third consecutive year the Rams defeated St. Vincent.
"Now we'll get to see how our kids handle the adversity," Sauer said. "We'll go and hopefully bounce back next week."
St. Vincent will host defending Class 1 state champion Valle, while Scott City will visit East Prairie.
Scott City 29, St. Vincent 20
SC -- Zach Haynes 14 run (kick failed), 10:51
SV -- Trenton Gremaud 9 pass from Trent Elder (Dylan Richardet kick), 8:10
SV -- Elder 7 run (kick failed), 2:50
SC -- Phillips 9 run (Jonathan McFall kick), 10:28
SC -- Haynes 32 run (McFall kick), 9:32
SV -- Gremaud 36 pass from Elder (Richardet kick), 7:16
SC -- McFall 13 run (kick failed), 3:24
SC -- McFall 28 FG, :17
RUSHING -- Scott City, Phillips 28-126, Logan Farmer 2-2, Haynes 6-73, McFall 7-27, Zach Carlyle 1-16; St. Vincent, Alex Winkler 17-49, Levi Gotto 3-10, Elder 9-62
PASSING -- Scott City, McFall 3-9-0-88; St. Vincent, Elder 9-22-0-144
RECEIVING -- Scott City, Ryan Fortner 2-80, Skyler Bewley 1-8; St. Vincent, Kevin Mattingly 2-11, Gotto 3-62, Jesse Francis 1-26, Gremaud 2-45, Winkler 1-0