By BRETT MARSHALL
WICHITA — It was Saturday the 14th. But for all practical purposes it felt more like Friday the 13th to the Scott City football team.
And for good reason.
Another appearance in the Class 3A quarterfinals. Another nail-biter of a finish, and another heart-stopping, heartbreaking loss.
Wichita Collegiate 19, Scott City 17.
For this year's Scott City seniors, it marked the fourth straight season they've reached the third round of the playoffs. In each of the last two seasons, it was touchdowns inside the two-minute mark of the fourth quarter that proved fateful for the Beavers.
It was just a year ago the Beavers saw an 11-point lead disappear in the final 1:57 against Garden Plain only to come up short, 20-17. This time, Collegiate, a team that had dispatched Garden Plain, 51-20, in the opening round of the playoffs, escaped with a stunning triumph.
It was a 14-yard Blake Jablonski to Tyler Coughenour TD pass that pierced the hearts of the Beavers.
It came with just 1:12 left in the game, capping an 83-yard, 11-play drive that took 3 minutes, 33 seconds. The winning drive followed an interception by the Spartans on a Ron Baker pass that came on a fourth-and-three play at the Collegiate 21.
"We were trying to get an out pattern to Jorden (Funk) or get a curl pattern inside," Scott City coach Glenn O'Neil said. "We thought we might get it over the linebacker but it got tipped. We still thought we were in good position."
Jablonski, the senior QB who has thrown for more than 3,000 yards this season, connected on six passes in the winning drive. At one point in the second half, the Beavers' stingy defense had forced him into 10 consecutive incompletions.
"Our defense played super even though we gave up the yards," O'Neil said. "That's as good a passing team as you'll see at the high school level. They've got a ton of good athletes."
For Collegiate coach Bill Messamore, he seemed somewhat stunned in the aftermath of the victory for his Spartans, who move on to the semifinals take on Norton, a 17-7 winner over Hutchinson-Trinity on Saturday. The Beavers beat Norton 14-6 in Week 7 of the regular season in district play.
"Scott City is so good," Messamore said. "They took any punch we could dish out. That's the lowest point total for us this year. They were just tenacious on defense. It's really a shame because I think this had all the marks of a championship game."
While Jablonski did throw for 293 yards (21-of-39), he was intercepted three times (twice by senior Alex Swan including the first play from scrimmage in the game).
"The way they were defending, my play list was virtually useless," Messamore said.
Messamore said on the scoring play that wrapped up the victory for his team, he was simply trying to widen the field as much as possible to spread out the Scott City defense.
"They'd been so good against us in the middle that I thought maybe if we could make the field as wide horizontally as possible, we might find an opening," Messamore said.
The Beavers had one final opportunity on the ensuing kickoff to win the game. Scott City (11-1) began their final march on their own 38 with an 11-yard pass from Baker to Dakota Hayes.
Two plays later a pass interference call on Collegiate pushed the ball to the Spartans' 31 with less than 40 seconds showing. Two Baker incomplete passes set up a 47-yard field goal attempt by Jordan Habiger with 19 seconds showing.
A high snap to the inside made it difficult for Dakota Hayes to get the ball down cleanly and Habiger's attempt was wide right and well short. Jablonski took a knee on the game's final play to wind down the clock.
"It's just difficult circumstances when it ends like this," O'Neil said. "It's a shame, there's two really good teams out there and somebody comes up short."
O'Neil said it was just unfortunate that they could not get the good snap for Habiger who had booted a 26-yard field goal in the second quarter.
"That's a lot of pressure and it was just a tough snap to handle," O'Neil said.
Collegiate scored first on a five-yard run by Brett LeMaster with 6:33 to play in the first quarter. It came on the Spartans' second possession. The Beavers answered with their own drive, covering 67 yards in 10 plays, capped off by Ron Baker's 15-yard scoring strike to Funk.
The teams traded field goals in the second period with Habiger getting his with 7:07 before halftime on a drive that stalled out at the Collegiate 10. Each team had two offensive possessions that were stopped before Habiger suffered a 6-yard punt to midfield with 39 seconds left before intermission.
Collegiate came up with another huge play when Jablonski found LeMaster on a 48-yard pass play deep along the sideline to put the ball at the two.
After holding Scott City to begin the second half, Collegiate went 63 yards before stalling out and Coughenour booted his second field goal, from 23 yards with 5:46 to go. That put the Spartans back on top, 13-10.
The Beavers responded once again after Funk intercepted Jablonski at the Spartans' 14-yard line late in the quarter. Jason Williams raced 14 yards on the first play on a cutback to the outside for a TD to make it 17-13 Scott City with 2:05 in the third quarter.
Scott City's potent defense, which had given up less than a touchdown a game during its run into the playoffs, stifled the Spartans running game, limiting them to just 44 yards on 16 attempts. The Beavers gained just 127 yards on 38 carries.
Baker connected on 7-of-20 passes for 87 yards and Swan was 1-of-1 for 30 yards. Williams was the leading rusher for Scott City with 18 carries for 70 yards.
Funk had four catches for 72 yards. Bryce Cornejo paced Collegiate with five receptions for 94 yards and LeMaster five for 76 yards.
See statistics in Scoreboard, Page B2.