Scott City football goes to the air in 41-26 district playoff win over rival Chaffee
Shortly after last season had come to a close for the Scott City football team, coach Jim May had a pretty good idea of how he wanted his offense to look in 2016.
May came to starting quarterback Ty Wilthong and told him there was going to be a concentrated effort to handing the ball off to 6-foot-3, 218-pound running back Braden Cox. That sort of smashmouth brand of football, May hoped, would allow Wilthong to have an easier time throwing the football, and on Friday night there was plenty of ease in the Rams' pass attack.
Scott City's senior signal caller threw four touchdown passes to senior Jaden Kaiser, including three in the second half, and the Rams pulled away with a 41-26 victory over rival Chaffee in the first round of the MSHSAA Class 1 District 1 playoffs at Scott City High School.
"We don't pass as much," said Wilthong, who completed 7 of 12 passes for 185 yards, "but every time we do, it's something big because everyone just crashes in on that O-line and Braden.
"Eventually someone has to come open."
Scott City (7-3) took the lead for good on the opening drive of the second half when Wilthong connected with Kaiser for a 5-yard TD reception on third-and-goal, giving the Rams a 21-14 advantage with 8 minutes, 55 seconds remaining in the third period. Later in the quarter, Wilthong found Kaiser again, this time over the middle for a 32-yard touchdown catch that pushed Scott City's lead to 28-14 at the 4:06 mark.
With all 11 players on Chaffee's defense committed to slowing down Cox, Kaiser was continually left wide open throughout the game. He finished with six catches for 165 yards.
"They had all 11 guys up in the box, and Kaiser's a tough matchup," May said. "He can do some things. He's tough in single coverage, and we were getting in some formations where we really liked the matchup. And we were able to exploit it."
Chaffee (4-6) pulled within a possession later in the third when sophomore QB Landon Tenkhoff capped a 10-play, 54-yard drive with a 28-yard TD pass to Josh Statler on fourth-and-13. The missed PAT held the Red Devils within 28-20 with 48.9 seconds left in the quarter.
However, on the second play of the following possession, Cox had his biggest run of the game when he burst through a hole in the middle and scampered 49 yards into the end zone to extend the Rams' lead to 34-20 with 11:50 remaining.
Cox, who's now averaging 222 yards rushing per game, had a modest outing by his standards, finishing with 34 rushes for 201 yards with a pair of touchdowns.
"I thought we really did a nice job on Cox. He is just a handful," Chaffee coach Charlie Vickery said. "He had that one run, but he's such a good runner that I thought we did a pretty good job."
The Red Devils countered with a 13-play drive that spanned 52 yards, resulting in a 2-yard TD run by Uzziah Beggs that trimmed Scott City's lead to 34-26 with 4:16 left in the game. Tenkhoff extended the scoring drive twice on fourth down, connecting with sophomore wideout Breven Yarbro both times.
Tenkhoff finished 22-of-37 passing (59 percent) for 244 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. Yarbro was his top target, hauling in 11 catches for 124 yards and a TD.
Vickery said Yarbro was inserted into more of an offensive role two weeks ago and has been pleased with his contribution.
"He'd been playing defense for us and was our backup quarterback," Vickery said. "He's got great hands. ... He's a definite addition to our offense, no question about that."
Scott City put the game out of reach with one final drive. On third-and-7, Wilthong looked down field and delivered a play-action pass to Kaiser for a 37-yard touchdown catch, setting the final score with 2:40 to go.
Tenkhoff led the Red Devils into Scott City territory on the ensuing possession but was intercepted at the 1-yard line, and the Rams used one run and a QB kneel to end the game.
"Coach has a lot of faith in our passing game, and our O-line did an incredible job. They pass blocked very well, one of their best games all year," Wilthong said. "You can't just go away from the pass. When you just run, run, run, they're eventually going to stop it. Jaden did a good job getting open, and the O-line did a good job protecting. It was just pitch and catch."
The Rams were out-gained in total yardage but averaged 7.8 yards per play, while Chaffee generated 4.9 yards per play.
May credited the offensive line for its effort in protecting both the run and pass.
"My linemen did such a fabulous job because we could still run the football even though they had all 11 guys in the box, and so that's all I can ask for," May said. I'm pretty happy with their effort. ... They were unbelievable tonight and even in the pass game because when you've got all those guys coming, it's hard to pass protect a lot of times. Ty made good reads, got rid of the ball quickly. It was great."
Chaffee took a 7-0 lead on its opening drive when Tenkhoff connected with Yarbro, who shed several defenders and fought his way into the end zone for a 12-yard TD reception with 8:10 left in the first quarter. Scott City tied the game at 7-all on the following drive, as Cox carried the ball 10 straight times and scored on a 1-yard run with 3:17 remaining in the period.
After the Red Devils turned the ball over on downs, Wilthong connected with Kaiser for their only score of the first half, a 35-yard TD that gave the Rams a 14-7 advantage with 7:25 remaining in the second quarter. The Rams got the ball back later in the quarter and drove downfield before Wilthong's pass was dropped by a wide receiver and fell into the arms of Statler.
The turnover proved to be a momentous play that gave Chaffee new life.
"Ty made a great read on the play and threw a great ball. We just missed it. It bounced off our shoulders, and somebody else caught it," May said. "It just changed the whole complexion of the game, but our kids battled.
"I told them at halftime that it just made it a tougher game, but that's alright. We like having fun."
With only one timeout, Tenkhoff directed the Red Devils on an impressive 62-yard scoring drive inside the final minutes of the half. He found Dalton Wilson over the middle, as Wilson muscled his way across the goal line for a 22-yard TD reception that drew both teams even at 14-all with 2.1 seconds left before the break.
"I thought that was a huge drive for us right then to tie it up at halftime," Vickery said. "We felt good. I felt like we were able to move the ball on them most of the night. It was definitely an offensive game."
Chaffee finished with 425 yards of total offense, compared to Scott City's 389 yards. The Red Devils also had 11 more first downs than Scott City.
Beggs led Chaffee on the ground with 21 rushes for 110 yards, while Tenkhoff added 74 yards on 24 totes.
"We ran a lot of veer tonight, and I don't think they had seen that. I think we were able to move the ball doing that quite a bit," Vickery said. "I think we mixed up the offense pretty good, and I'm disappointed we lost for our kids. But they have nothing to hang their heads about. They fought hard."
The Red Devils, who were seeded sixth in the district, graduate 11 seniors but should benefit from the return of their most important piece in Tenkhoff. Chaffee increased its final win total by one game after finishing 3-7 in 2015.
"We'll miss the seniors," Vickery said. "... They came out to practice every day and worked hard. They worked hard in the weight room all summer. They did a really good job for us. They'll definitely be missed.
"On the other side, there's some bright spots because we've got several kids coming back. Hopefully we'll develop. There's a lot of pieces to the puzzle there. We're losing a lot, but we've got a lot coming back."
The road for Scott City doesn't get easier from here. The third-seeded Rams will travel to face second-seeded Hayti, which steamrolled No. 7 Crystal City 68-0, in a district semifinal on Friday.
The two teams met on Sept. 30 when the Indians came away with a 48-28 win at Scott City.
"We know how explosive they are, and we know how good they are on defense," May said. "We're going to go throw our best hat at it and see what we can get done. We're just going to go to work.
"We've got another week to work, and that's the best part of it."
C -- Breven Yarbro 12 pass from Landon Tenkhoff (Alex Burch kick), 8:10
SC -- Braden Cox 1 run (Jimmy May kick), 3:17
SC -- Jaden Kaiser 35 pass from Ty Wilthong (May kick), 7:25
C -- Dalton Wilson 22 pass from Tenkhoff (Burch kick), 0:02.1
SC -- Kaiser 5 pass from Wilthong (May kick), 8:55
SC -- Kaiser 32 pass from Wilthong (May kick), 4:06
C -- Josh Statler 28 pass from Tenkhoff (kick failed), 0:48.9
SC -- Cox 49 run (kick failed), 11:50
C -- Uzziah Beggs 2 run (kick failed), 4:16
SC -- Kaiser 37 pass from Wilthong (May kick), 2:40
RUSHING -- Chaffee, Uzziah Beggs 21-110, Landon Tenkhoff 24-74, Josh Statler 1-15, Dalton Wilson 2-(-1), Team 1-(-17); Scott City, Braden Cox 34-201, Sam Elders 2-5, Team 2-(-2).
PASSING -- Chaffee, Tenkhoff 22-37-244-1, Team 0-1-0-0; Scott City, Ty Wilthong 7-12-185-1, Cox 0-1-0-0.
RECEIVING -- Chaffee, Breven Yarbro 11-124, Brennan Miller 4-38, Beggs 3-17, Wilson 2-33, Statler 2-32; Scott City, Jaden Kaiser 6-165, Caden Hillemann 1-20.
- Photos from the game (10/21/16)