By BRETT MARSHALL
HOLCOMB — Good teams seem to find a way to handle adversity in big games.
Friday night was no exception for Scott City's Beavers (4-0) as they found a way to overcome a 92-yard fumble return by Holcomb's Nathan Gonzalez that had overshadowed a near-perfect first quarter performance by coach Glenn O'Neil's unbeaten team and eventually cruised to a 43-14 non-league victory over the Longhorns (2-2).
Leading 14-0 and driving for a third touchdown in four possessions, Scott City quarterback Ron Baker tried to avoid handing off to Jason Williams and in the mix, Gonzalez pulled the ball away and raced the length of the field for the Longhorns' first score and a two-point conversion run by Logan Singhisen sliced the lead to 14-8 with 9:42 left in the first half.
"I was pretty disappointed in that," Baker said of the botched handoff. "I tried to pull (the football) back, but the instinct was for him to take it. It was my mistake."
The Beavers, though, responded and came right back down the field, moving 60 yards in eight plays — all on the ground — with Alex Swan getting the TD on a nine-yard scamper. Baker then found Jorden Funk for a two-point conversion, upping the Scott City lead to 22-8 at the 6:40 mark.
"That kind of set the tone for us to get a score after the fumble," Baker said of his team which improved to 4-0 for the season. "We might have gotten a little better, but we still have room for improvement. I thought we played better last week (in a 27-0 victory at Ulysses) but this still feels good."
Scott City wasted little time establishing dominance over the youthful Longhorns. On their first drive of the game, the Beavers went 51 yards in seven plays with Williams barreling over from the 1-yard line. Jordan Habiger's point-after kick made it 7-0 with 8:08 to play in the opening quarter.
The Beavers' defense held tough on Holcomb's ensuing possession and then resumed their offensive march, this time going 45 yards in just five plays, with Swan going in from just one yard out. The big play of the drive was a 21-yard pass from Baker to Funk. Habiger's second PAT kick made it 14-0 with 5:05 still to play in the first quarter.
"We're just not ready to play this caliber of a team," Holcomb coach Jerry Johnson said. "We get the turnover for the touchdown and I thought we'd get a spark from that. We're still making too many mental mistakes and just aren't playing with any consistency. We'll make two good plays and then a bad one. You can't do that against a playoff-caliber team like Scott City."
Following Gonzalez' long fumble return, Scott City took the kickoff and ran the ball right at the Longhorns. And they did it effectively, as Swan got that final nine yards.
"I think our experience factor took over and it was evident in the first half," O'Neil said of his team's performance. "Our guys came out focused and I thought we did what we needed to do."
The Beavers would ice the game with one more touchdown in the half when Swan swept around right end on a pitch from Baker and raced 35 yards with 4:24 left. Habiger's extra point kick increased the lead to 29-8.
Before the half would end, the Beavers had one more tally that came on an 18-yard Baker return of a Holcomb fumble with 3:32 before intermission. Habiger's PAT kick increased the lead to 36-8 at the break.
Scott City took the opening second-half kickoff and drove 64 yards in 12 plays with Dalton Smith scoring on an 18-yard run with 6:11 to go. Another Habiger PAT kick concluded the Beavers' scoring to make it 43-8. Holcomb notched its final touchdown with just 54 seconds left in the game when Jose Munoz scored on a 5-yard run.
Scott City hosts Larned next Friday in a Mid-State Activities Association contest while Holcomb entertains Ulysses in a non-league battle.
Scott City 43, Holcomb 14
Scott City 14 22 7 0 — 43
Holcomb 0 8 0 6 — 14
SC — Jason Williams 1 run (Jordan Habiger kick), 8:08
SC — Alex Swan 1 run (Habiger kick), 5:05
H — Nathan Gonzalez 92 fumble return (Logan Singhisen run), 9:42
SC — Swan 9 run (Jorden Funk pass from Ron Baker), 6:40
SC — Swan 35 run (Habiger kick), 4:24
SC — Baker 18 fumble return (Habiger kick), 3:32
SC — Dalton Smith 18 run (Habiger kick), 6:11
H — Jose Munoz 5 run (run failed), :54
First downs 19 6
Rushes-Yards 49-267 37-117
Passing Yards 86 13
Passes 7-10-1 3-9-1
Penalties-Yards 3-15 3-20
Fumbles-Lost 1-1 2-1
Punts-Avg. 2-19.5 6-26.8
Rushing — Scott City: Buehler 1-0, Baker 4-12, Swan 9-103, Smith 8-58, Williams 13-51, Couchman 4-12, Kough 3-17, Roemer 2-(-4), O'Neil 1-4, Hess 2-2. Holcomb: Pfeifer 1-0, Singhisen 13-64, Koehn 15-36, Gonzalez 2-0, Munoz 6-17.
Passing — Scott City: Baker 7-9-1-86, Robinson 0-1-0-0. Holcomb: Singhisen 3-9-1-13.
Receiving — Scott City: Swan 3-23, Funk 4-63. Holcomb: Merz 1-2, Gonzalez 1-6, Pfeifer 1-5.