Scott City, Kan. (westernkansasnews.com)–Football, just like any sport, is a game of emotions. Saturday’s 3A Regional playoff game between Scott City and Norton had its share of a roller coaster ride of emotions, especially in the last quarter. In the end, it was the Bluejays who ended on the high end, as they got a six-yard pass from Jace Ruder to Gavin Lively with 16 seconds left to upset the Beavers 28-24 in a wild finish at Darner Field.
Norton got the scoring started on the secon play of the game. With 11:05 left in the first quarter, the Bluejays scored on a hook and latter, as Jace Ruder completed the pass to Tyus Henson, who pitched it back to Gavin Lively on the run, and ran down the sidleline for 65 yards. Jay Mulder’s PAT gavie them the early 7-0 lead. Norton would take advantace of Scott City’s second interception of the game. Ten plays later, Lively scored from 10 yards out to make it 14-0 Bluejays, following the Mulder extra point.
Scott City would march right back down the field for their first score of the afternoon. The Beavers capped off a 12-play drive that took just over minutes, as Cooper Griffith punched it in from a yard out. Tre Stewart booted in the extra point to make it 14-7 Bluejays. Follwing another Beaver turnover, Norton (9-2) ate up five and a half minutes. With 40 seconds remaining before the break, Lively ran in his third score of the game from five yards out, and Mulder’s PAT pushed their lead to 21-7. Scott City would come right back after a Bluejay kick out of bounds. Stewart would drill a career-best 44-yard field goal as the first half closed out, closing the Norton lead to 21-10.
After a scoreless third quarter, the fourth quarter was dramatic. Scott City pulled to within 21-16 with 10:20 to go on Griffiths second touchdown run, this time from seven yards out. The two point conversion failed. Both teams would trade possessions, when the Beavers would march it down the field for their first lead of the game. On fourth and 13 from the Norton 31, Bo Hess found Justin Faurot about nine yards deep in the end zone, going through a small window of Norton defenders. Griffith ran in the two point conversion to give Scott City (10-1) the 24-21 lead.
The next Norton possession would be a roller coaster ride along the way. On the first play, it looked as if Kyle Cure had intercepted Ruder at the Bluejay 28. After the officials discussed the play, it was ruled that the ball hit the ground. That would be huge. The Bluejays would convert a third down, Ruder rushed for 19 yards on fourth and 15, and a couple pass plays later found themselves at the Scott City seven. Following a one yard run, Ruder would it Lively on the slant in the end zone with 16 seconds left to give Norton the 28-24 lead, following the Mulder extra point kick. The Beavers had one more chance, but were picked off on the first play of the drive, sending the Bluejays to the Secional round.
For Norton, Jace Ruder was 10-23 for 84 yards with one touchdown and one interception. His leading receiver was Tyus Henson, who had three grabs for 38 yards. Gavin Lively had 13 rushes for 111 yards and three touchdowns. The Bluejays finished with 260 yards of offense.
Scott City had Bo Hess go 15-27 for 181 yards for a touchdown and five interceptions. Drake McRae had six catches for 65 yards, while Cooper Griffith had 21 carries for 67 yards and two touchdown rushes. The Beavers finished with 336 yards.
In the win, Norton knocked off Scott City for the first time since 2008, when they beat the Beavers 26-14 in district play. The loss for Scott City is their earliest exit in the playoffs since 2010, when they lost to Smith Center 42-35 in the Regional round of the 3A playoffs.
The Scott City senior class will go down as one of the most successful classes, finishing their high school career with a 48-4 record, including a state championship in 2012, a state runner-up finish in 2014, and a sub-state finish in 2013. They also won a GWAC title three times. Saturday’s setback was also an end of a 10-year run for the Beavers in Class 3A. During those 10 years, Scott City was 24-9 in the playoffs. They will be in Class 4A, Division II for the 2016-2017 football seasons.
Norton will take on Wichita Collegiate, who drilled Garden Plain 41-6 on Saturday to improve to 11-0. The game will be played at Wichita Collegiate.
Head Coach Glenn O’Neil Postgame