Hayti football ends Scott City's season in district semifinals
HAYTI, Mo. -- Scott City coach Jim May came into Friday's MSHSAA Class 1 District 1 semifinal with a wish list of particulars that would facilitate an upset of state-ranked Hayti, but he had one general wish he wanted the most.
"We came out and did what we said we were going to do," May said. "We came out here to run the football. I told them we needed an onside kick, a turnover and a defensive stop, and we didn't get all three of those. I mean, we knew it was going to be tough, but I'm proud of the way the kids come out and played. I talked to the assistant coaches this morning, and I said, 'I want to play well.' And I felt like we did. I know what the score says, but I also know how the game was played, and my kids came and battled."
The final score read: Hayti 56, Scott City 28.
The Rams were not deterred by a 20-point loss to the Indians (10-1), who entered the game ranked fifth in Class 1, earlier in the season at home.
They took the game's opening kickoff and covered 82 yards on a 14-play drive that ate up more than half the first quarter. The Rams finished the opening statement when senior quarterback Ty Wilthong found senior Jaden Kaiser on a 30-yard pass near the goal line behind a Hayti defender, and the PAT gave the Rams a 7-0 lead with 5 minutes, 33 seconds left in the first quarter.
It was the beginning of a toe-to-toe battle in a first half in which neither team blinked until the final minutes.
"We came out, we stuck to the game plan," Wilthong said. "We ran the ball well. They started keying on the run and we got a good pass for a touchdown. We had good blocking up front. It was just a good first three possessions."
Using the determined running of 6-foot-3, 218-pound senior Braden Cox, Scott City put together a 65-yard TD drive on its next possession, and followed that up with an 80-yard TD drive on its first possession of the second quarter. Cox, who finished the game with 201 yards on 38 carries, capped the former drive with a 6-yard run and the latter with a 10-yard run, two plays after throwing a 52-yard halfback option pass to freshman Joe Panagos on a fourth-and-6 play from his own 37.
Cox carried the ball 38 times for 201 yards to break the school's single-season rushing record. His total of 2,427 yards surpassed the previous mark of 2,357 set by Britt Mirgaux in 1993.
The Rams went 3 for 3 on fourth-down conversions on their first three possessions, and the risks were just enough to nudge them ahead of a high-octane Hayti offense directed by senior Allen Mills -- a unit that also scored on its first three possessions.
Mills rushed for 199 yards on 10 carries, which included TD runs of 77 and 12 yards. He also completed 11 of 13 passes for 105 yards.
While Scott City used more than six minutes to assemble its first TD, Hayti needed just four plays and 85 seconds to counter, with Mills throwing a 29-yard scoring pass to senior Dayon Moore for the first TD. He then began a perfect evening on 2-point conversions with a pass to senior Jamerial Cody to give the Indians an 8-6 advantage.
Hayti, which scored on all four of its first-half possessions and first six possessions of the game, answered Cox's two TDs with scoring runs of 1 and 4 yards by senior Deva'nte Robinson, leapfrogging the Rams on the scoreboard each time. The latter run was capped by a conversion pass to Moore for a 24-21 led with 3:18 left in the second quarter.
The Rams looked primed to take their fourth lead of the game when Kaiser returned the ensuing kickoff 30 yards to start Scott City at midfield. They improved to 4 for 4 on fourth-down conversions when Wilthong hit a sliding Kaiser on a 15-yard slant pattern between two defenders on a fourth-and-9 play. After an incompletion, Hayti was flagged for a defensive holding penalty, giving the Rams a first down at the Indians' 25. The drive ended on the following play, when Cox picked up two yards but was ruled not down when the ball came loose and was recovered by the Indians.
Mills broke loose for his 77-yard TD run on the next play, crossing the goal line with 1:00 left in the half. He also ran in the conversion for a 32-21 halftime lead.
"We knew we needed to score about every time we touched it," May said. "They're a good ball club. There's a reason why they're 10-1 now."
Hayti took the opening kickoff of the second half and extended its lead with a 53-yard drive.
Scott City answered a 12-yard TD run by Mills with Cox's third TD of the night, but that score, which closed the gap to 40-28, was followed by a near riot on the ensuing kickoff when Moore blindsided Panagos with a block near the 20-yard line.
Flags were thrown on the hit, and then again when outraged Scott City players tried to get at Moore. Police came onto the field to help separate the two sides and restore order. Ultimately Moore and Scott City senior lineman Ryan Wilfong were ejected from the game and personal fouls were assessed to both teams.
Panagos, who originally got to his feet and wobbled to the sideline, was attended to throughout the delay of about 15 minutes.
"I'm assuming he's all right," May said about Panagos. "They were just sitting with him and they said he'd probably be all right. I know he took a pretty vicious hit there. And again, the guys got to keep their composure, but in the same respect, I kind of like the fact that they're willing to stand up for their teammate."
According to MSHSAA rules, a player ejected from a game is prohibited at a miniumum of playing in the next contest, which would make Moore unavailable for this week’s district championship game against top-ranked Valle Catholic.
“I guess we can try to appeal it, but we’ll see what happens,” Hayti coach Neal Cruce said. “They said it wasn’t for the scuffle afterwards, it was for the hit. When a kid is chasing the ball carrier and he’s within two yards of making a tackle and my guy comes and makes a big block, I mean, that’s football. The ref did the best he could and called what he saw. That’s part of the game.”
Hayti ultimately started the possession at its own 11, and amid a parade of flags drove 89 yards to move ahead 48-28 with 11:35 left in the game.
The Rams made their only defensive stop on Hayti, which accumulated 462 yards of total offense, on its next possession, but the Indians used more help from penalties to tack on their final TD.
Scott City finished with 365 yards of offense, led by Cox's fifth game of at least 200 yards.
"It was another great effort by all of us," May said. "That's supposedly one of the best defenses in Southeast Missouri, and my offensive line was just getting off the football and we were just running downhill. I couldn't be more proud of the whole group, but [Cox] has done a fantastic job for us for four years. He started as a freshman at quarterback. He's been a great player for us. I can't say enough about him, and he has more to come."
Cox also finished with 35 TDs this season.
"I think we gave it our all," Cox said. "I'm really proud of the way we came out and played hard. I can't wait to see what the future holds for our underclassmen."
With a record of 7-4, the Rams recorded their first winning season in May's eight-year tenure and the most wins at Scott City since 2004.
"I looked in the preview this morning and I saw 9-1 Hayti playing 7-3 Scott City, and it's so nice to see us in that spot again," May said. "That's where we need to be. I couldn't be more proud of our seniors -- they led us back."
SC -- Jaden Kaiser 30 pass from Ty Wilthong (Jimmy May kick), 5:33
H -- Dayon Moore 29 pass from Allen Mills (Jamerial Cody pass from Mills), 4:08
SC -- Braden Cox 6 run (May kick), 1:23
H -- Deva'nte Robinson 1 run (Timothy Hamilton pass from Mills), 10:05
SC -- Cox 10 run (May kick), 5:11
H -- Robinson 4 run (Moore pass from Mills), 3:18
H -- Mills 77 run (Mills run), 1:00
H -- Mills 12 run (Robinson pass from Mills), 9:12
SC -- Cox 1 run (May kick), 2:52
H -- Hamilton 6 run (Robinson run), 11:35
H -- Robinson 2 run (Mills run), 5:13
RUSHING -- Scott City, Cox 38-201, Sam Elders 10-48, May 4-16, Kolby Drury 1-0, Wilthong 1-(-5), Spencer Stratman 1-(-7); Hayti, Mills 10-199, Cody 2-73, Robinson 13-63, Hamilton 4-22.
PASSING -- Scott City, Wilthong 10-12-1-60, Cox 1-1-0-52; Hayti, Mills 11-13-0-105.
RECEIVING -- Scott City, Kaiser 2-44, Joe Panagos 1-52, Elders 1-16; Hayti, Reginold Ford 4-30, Moore 3-51, Hamilton 3-19, Robinson 1-5.