Cape Central football heads back to district championship after second, less dramatic win over Farmington
FARMINGTON, MO. -- Farmington football fell victim to a problem Friday that has plagued many of Cape Girardeau Central's opponents this year: an explosive backfield.
With dual-threat quarterback Kway'Chon Chisom and running back Aaron Harris, a second-team All-State selection last year, leading the way, the No. 5-seed Tigers averaged over nine yards a carry and rushed for 390 yards in a 35-14 road win over No. 1-seed Farmington in the MSHSAA Class 4 District 1 semifinals.
Central will travel to No. 2-seed Hillsboro for the district final Friday.
Using the read option, Chisom and Harris combined for 340 of the Tigers' rushing yards against the Knights and all five of the touchdowns as Central outscored Farmington 21-7 in the second half. Harris led the way with three scores while Chisom had 173 yards on 16 rushes in the Tigers' second victory over the hosts this season. The duo both had topped the 1,000-yard rushing mark on the season heading into the semifinal.
"If you try to take Kway'Chon away, Aaron's going to hurt you, and if you take Aaron away Kway'Chon's going to hurt you," Tigers coach Arlen Pixley said. "That read game that we're running right now and have been running the last couple weeks has allowed us to have Aaron go over the 1,000-yard mark rushing, and Kway'Chon go over the 1,000-yard mark rushing."
The Tigers scored touchdowns on all three of their second-half possessions, including a 14-play, 77-yard drive in the third quarter.
That efficient offensive output, along with a solid defensive performance helped the Tigers pull away late after entering halftime up 14-7.
"We knew at halftime we kind of underachieved there in the first half," Pixley said. "That was kind of self-inflicted pressure on our part, but we settled down in the second half."
The visitors piled up 228 yards rushing in the final two quarters and attempted just two passes, both incompletions. An offensive line with two freshmen opened holes for Chisom and Harris, and the duo took care of the rest.
"We had our mindset we would come out and pound it tonight," said Harris, who had 167 yards on 17 attempts. "We did that."
The 21-point win was a much more comfortable victory than the first encounter. In Week 3 of the regular season, Central escaped with a one-point overtime win.
There were no dramatics this time.
Central led 21-14 going into the final period and scored a touchdown on the fourth play of the quarter, a 20-yard Harris run. Then the defense stopped the Knights on a fourth-and-15 to preserve the two-possession lead.
On that fourth down, the Knights had an open receiver in the end zone but the throw from quarterback Nathaniel Link was a little behind Brayden Moon.
"Fourth-and-15, that's hard to convert at any level, and any team," said Chisom, an All-State cornerback last season. "We did a good job with that, and they helped us out a lot."
Chisom suffered an injury scare late in the contest. With about a minute remaining, the QB scored on a 52-yard run as he evaded multiple Knight defenders, including senior Gavin Duncan.
After Chisom was in the end zone, Duncan grabbed the quarterback's facemask and violently twisted his helmet. Chisom stayed on the ground for several minutes after the play before walking towards the sidelines and sitting down. He didn't re-enter the game but was smiling after the victory and said he will play in the district final.
"As soon as Chisom crosses he lets up and then the kid grabs Chisom by the facemask and just literally slings him and tries to throw him out the back of the end zone by the neck," Pixley said. "Could have broke his neck. Well, he gets ejected. Well, his career's over. So it's all for naught. Yeah, are we upset about it? Yeah you bet."
Duncan led Farmington with 131 rushing yards on 26 attempts.
Central started slow. The game was scoreless after the first quarter despite the Tigers recovering a fumble at the Knights' 23. After three plays led to a fourth-and-2, kicker Hunter Hiett, back from a broken foot, missed a 32-yard field goal. He was 5 for 5 on extra-points.
It took a 52-yard run from Harris to get Central on the scoreboard about three minutes into the second period. After a 33-yard punt set the Tigers up at their 48, Harris busted through the middle on the first play of the drive. The junior ran over a would-be tackler before sprinting down the right sideline and diving into the end zone.
"I love running over people," Harris said. "It's one of my specialties. I try to do it, but this year I haven't done it that much. I follow my line, but I had to give them a little something."
Chisom added a nine-yard TD run on the next possession before Farmington got on the scoreboard just before half with a 24-yard pass from Link to sophomore Tycen Gray.
The Knights are a triple-option offense but had twice as many passing yards as Central. Link and starting quarterback Cody Friedmeyer were a combined 9 for 16 for 111 yards and an interception. Friedmeyer, who missed the previous week's game with an injury, began the game under center, but Link replaced him at the beginning of the second quarter. Friedmeyer came in for a few plays in the final quarter.
"We were expecting anybody, both of them probably to play," Harris said. "[Link] is a good ball player. He can play."
The hosts received the ball to start the second half and drove down to the Tigers' 24. But on fourth-and-4, Central stonewalled them. The Tigers then put together that 14-play TD drive. Harris and Chisom carried the ball on 12 of those plays -- the other two were incompletions. Midway through the drive, Chisom scampered for 16 yards on fourth-and-11, and a few plays later Harris found pay dirt.
Harris and Chisom, with the help of the offensive line, continued to dominate in the final period and give the Tigers a chance to claim their fourth consecutive district title. Their last district tournament loss, a 28-20 defeat to Hillsboro in 2012, came before Chisom was on the team. The next year, the Tigers won district. So that feeling is all the senior has ever known.
"Every since I've been here we've won a district championship -- every since my freshman year -- so that's all I know really," Chisom said. "I can't set them short."
CC -- Aaron Harris 52 run (Hunter Hiett kick), 8:57
CC -- Kway'Chon Chisom 9 run (Hiett kick), 3:36
F -- Tycen Gray 24 pass from Nathaniel Link (Parker Hastings kick), :18
CC -- A. Harris 5 run (Hiett kick), 4:35
F -- Cody Wright 13 pass from Link (Hastings kick), :17
CC -- A. Harris 20 run (Hiett kick), 10:39
CC -- Chisom 52 run (Hiett kick), 1:02
RUSHING -- Cape Central, Kway'Chon Chisom 16-173, Aaron Harris 17-167, Joe Baker 9-41, Blake Harris 1-9; Farmington, Gavin Duncan 26-131, Nathaniel Link 21-67, Tappan Westbrook 1-10, Dylan Allen 3-12, Cody Friedmeyer 4-(-5).
PASSING -- Cape Central, Chisom 2-9-45-1; Farmington, Link 8-13-96-1, Friedmeyer 1-3-15-0.
RECEIVING -- Cape Central, Austin Parker 1-38, B. Harris 1-7; Farmington, Brett Miller 3-28, Tycen Gray 2-40, Alex Greco 2-25, Cody Wright 1-13, Brayden Moon 1-5
- Photos from the game (10/29/16)