By BRETT MARSHALL
SCOTT CITY — In their first 10 games the Scott City's Beavers dominated teams with an overpowering ground attack, spiced in with some timely passes.
All that changed at O.L. Darner Field when Hoisington loaded up their defense Saturday to stop the run in the Class 3A regional clash.
Scott City quarterback Ron Baker and his trio of receivers — seniors Dakota Hayes, Jorden Funk and Alex Swan — made the Cardinal pay for it with a passing performance en route to an easy 41-7 victory. The triumph sends the Beavers into Friday's sectional championship at Wichita Collegiate (11-0), a 48-0 winner of Hillsboro on Saturday.
"We've had the passing game all along, but we've just not had to use it that much," said Hayes, who had four catches for 109 yards, including a 47-yard touchdown catch from Baker in the third quarter. "We were able to get deep on them and Ron threw the ball perfectly."
The Beavers wasted little time establishing control on both sides of the football.
On their first possession, Scott City (11-0) drove 53 yards in six plays capped off by Jason Williams' four-yard run and Jordan Habiger's point-after kick made it 7-0 at the 7:16 mark of the first quarter. Hayes had the big play of the drive, a 36-yard reception from Baker to put the ball at the 4 yard line.
It was Hayes who put the Beavers right back in scoring position when he returned a Hoisington punt 42 yards to the Cardinals' 6. An offside penalty on Hoisington moved the ball to the three and Williams scored on an off-tackle run. "They were setting up for close coverage and we were able to get deep on them," Hayes said of the passing strategy. "We've just been waiting to use it when the time was right."
Baker was involved in putting the Beavers into scoring position in the second quarter when he hit Funk on a 39-yard pass to move the ball to the Hoisington 18. Five plays later Swan took it in from the 3 to make it 21-0 with 8:27 to go before halftime.
Hoisington's lone scoring threat of the first half came after the third Scott City TD. The Cardinals drove 74 yards to the Beavers' 13 where they faced fourth-and-two. But the stingy Scott City defense stuffed the Cardinals' Tanner Klug for a one-yard gain and took over on downs.
"That was huge for us," Funk said. "We gave up some yardage there, but made the big play when we needed to. That's what our defense has done all season. Our main goal was not to let them score."
If Hoisington had any hopes for a comeback, it was dashed at the outset of the second half. Scott City took the ball starting at its own 38 and Baker drilled a long sideline pattern pass to Hayes, who hauled it in and outraced the secondary to the end zone.
Hoisington had another long drive that consumed 5:41 following the Beavers' score, but it was shut down when Klug was stopped on fourth-and-six from the Scott City 13.
Swan's lone reception of the game came right after the possession change. Baker hit Swan for a 36 yard gain, which was a prelude to Swan's six-yard scoring run on the first play of the fourth quarter. Sophomore Dalton Smith added the final Scott City score midway through the fourth on a 22-yard scamper to up the lead to 41-0.
"Our strategy is we like to run, and pass when we want to, and that's what we did today," Swan said. "We're just taking one round at a time. Ron's been getting better and better each week and his touch today was right on."
Hoisington (9-2) cracked the scoring column with 6:56 to play in the game when reserve quarterback Luke Becker found Klug on a 66-yard touchdown pass that came against the Scott City reserve defenders.
While Hoisington's packed-in defense did limit the Beavers to a season-low 184 yards on the ground, Baker's passing more than compensated for it as the junior connected on 8-of-12 attempts for 197 yards with one interception.
"We knew what we needed to do and their coverage allowed Ron to get us the ball out on some deep patterns and he just nailed it to us the whole game," Funk said. "Our line did a good job of protecting Ron and he just put the ball in the right place for us."
Scott City's defense continued to be stingy as it limited the Cardinal running game to 130 rushing yards on 39 attempts and 91 passing yards.
For the Beavers, it marks the fourth straight year to play for the sectional championship and they have been denied each time.
"We've been here before and we want to take it another step," Swan said. "We took care of business right away today and now it's on to the next game and get ready."
Hoisington 0 0 0 7 — 7
Scott City 14 7 7 13 — 41
SC — Jason Williams 4 run (Jordan Habiger kick)
SC — Jason Williams 3 run (Jordan Habiger kick)
SC — Alex Swan 3 run (Jordan Habiger kick)
SC — Dakota Hayes 47 pass from Ron Baker (Jordan Habiger kick)
SC — Alex Swan 6 run (kick failed)
SC — Dalton Smith 22 run (Jordan Habiger kick)
H — Tanner Klug 66 pass from Luke Becker (Dustin Mader kick)
First Downs 8 13
Rushes-Yards 39-130 41-184
Passing Yards 91 197
Passes 4-7-0 8-12-1
Penalties-Yards 6-48 3-25
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 0-0
Punts-Avg. 6-38.5 2-45.0
Rushing — Hoisington: Klug 16-84, Bieberle 3-11, Engstrom 10-23, Becker 1-(-3), Riedl 4-3, Richter 2-7, Sanders 1-0, Stumma 2-5. Scott City: Baker 2-(-2), Swan 10-42, Smith 6-64, Kough 3-12, Williams 11-35, Couchman 2-0, Roemer 2-0, Hess 1-3, O'Neil 1-8.
Passing — Hoisington: Bieberle 3-6-0--25, Becker 1-1-0--66. Scott City: Baker 8-12-1--197, O'Neil 0-0-0--0.
Receiving — Hoisington: Demel 2-18, Engstrom 1-7, Klug 1-66. Scott City: Hayes 4-109, Funk 3-55, Swan 1-33.