By BRETT MARSHALL
SCOTT CITY — Success has been the model in the eight years of Glenn O'Neil's football coaching career at Scott City.
So successful, in fact, that the Beavers had won 41 straight regular season games until a 25-6 loss earlier this year to Ulysses on the road.
And, they had not tasted defeat at home on the O.L. Darner Field since a heartbreaking 20-17 loss to Garden Plain in the 2008 Class 3A quarterfinals.
But that all changed here Saturday night during the Class 3A semifinal — a rematch of the 2012 semifinal (42-26 Scott City) — when the Beloit Trojans gained a measure of revenge with a solid 36-13 victory over the Beavers.
The loss brought an end to a season that provided more success than many thought possible, and that was not lost on the Beavers' head coach.
"These kids have come a long way," coach O'Neil said after the game. "I told them in the huddle (after the game) that they've probably come further than any group I've ever coached before as far as basketball or football, and this is my 29th year."
Indeed, the Beavers had won their first state football title in 2012 (28-21 over Silver Lake), but lost their entire starting backfield and much of the line on both sides of the ball.
"As a group coming out of nowhere to being a final four team is a tremendous achievement for these guys," coach O'Neil said. "I'm really proud of them."
The Beavers, who had relied on a balanced offense to propel its way through the regular season and three playoff victories, just couldn't match the crunching ground attack of the Trojans, who pummeled the Beavers for 354 rushing yards.
"It was pretty rough," said defensive end Chris Pounds. "They're a big team, and it was really tough when three or four of their guys were running at us like that."
And while no one play dictated the final outcome of the game, perhaps the biggest play came early in the third quarter with Beloit on top 22-13. The Beavers had their opening drive of the second half take them from their own 34 to the Trojans' 10, where they faced a second-and-6.
O'Neil and most of his players knew an audible had been called, but a miscommunication in the backfield resulted in a mishandled handoff from junior quarterback Trey O'Neil to sophomore running back Wyatt Kropp. Beloit speedster Bowe Behymer, a thorn in most team's side with his offensive skills, scooped up the ball and raced untouched 88 yards for the backbreaking TD. Payton Vetter hit Dustin Reiter for the 2-point conversion, and suddenly the Trojans were in control with a 30-13 advantage.
"That fumble was heart-breaking," said Pounds, one of the Beavers' running backs. "We called for a change of play, and everybody but the back heard it. We drove down almost every time. We just weren't able to finish our drives."
That was the story of the Scott City offense all night, which did combine for 387 yards (254 passing, 133 rushing), but only had two first half TDs to show for the effort.
The Beavers took an early 7-0 lead on their first possession of the game, going 50 yards after a fumble recovery with O'Neil hitting Pounds from 4 yards out. Tre Stewart booted the PAT midway through the period.
Beloit, which runs out of a tight, double-wing formation, then went to its bread-and-butter offense to just run, run, and run some more.
The Trojans' first score came at the end of a 71-yard, eight-play drive as senior quarterback Payton Vetter scooted around right end from the 6-yard line. He then ran for two and made it in for an 8-7 lead at the 4:55 mark.
The Trojans extended their lead to 14-7 early in the second when they went on a marathon 93-yard, 17-play drive that consumed just under seven minutes of the clock. Vetter was the big key again, scoring on a 13-yard run on a second-and-8 play. Tanner Niemczyk was stopped on the two-point conversion.
The Beavers struck quickly afterward, getting a 68-yard bomb from O'Neil to Brayden Strine, who caught the ball about 25 yards downfield, then broke through a cluster of Trojan defenders and outraced the secondary to the end zone. Stewart's PAT kick was blocked, preserving a 14-13 lead for Beloit. That would be the closest the Beavers would get.
The Trojans extended the lead to 22-13 when Behymer skirted right end from 5 yards out and then Vetter hit RJ Jackson with the two-point conversion pass with 4:58 left in the half.
Scott City missed a scoring opportunity just before halftime, when Cooper Griffith intercepted Vetter near midfield. The Beavers reached the Beloit 20, but two penalties and four incomplete passes ran out the clock at intermission.
"We left too many opportunities out there," coach O'Neil said. "The kids played as hard as they possibly could. It's just one of those situations where a good team was going to get beat, and we were the good team that got beat tonight. Beloit is a very good football team, and they have a good chance to go get it (state title) next week."
Another missed scoring chance was lost when the Beavers took that second kickoff of the third quarter and reached the Trojans' 5-yard line, with the 57 yards all coming on the ground. But on fourth-and-goal from the 5, the Trojans stuffed a pitch from O'Neil to Pounds for a 3-yard loss.
"We drove down almost every time," said Pounds. "We just weren't able to finish our drives. It could have been a totally different game if we could have finished."
Beloit, now 12-0, will take on perennial eastern Kansas power Silver Lake, which is making its 11th appearance in the championship game since 2002, owning its last title in 2010. The Eagles fell to Scott City 28-21 in the 2012 championship contest. Silver Lake advanced on Friday night with a 27-13 victory over previously unbeaten Rossville.
The championship game will be played at 1 p.m. Saturday at Gowans Stadium in Hutchinson.
Scott City, which finishes its season at 11-2, came a long way from what many people thought would be a rebuilding year.
"It's not the same as last year," said Strine, a senior. "Nobody really expected that much out of us, so that was nice coming around at the end of the season and really improving."
Coach O'Neil echoed his player's sentiments.
"It was a blue-collar look," coach O'Neil said of his 2013 squad. "They had to prepare for everything. They had to play through injuries. We knew we weren't going to be as explosive on the offense."
Notes: O'Neil completed his eighth season as head coach of the Beavers. His teams have posted a 74-12 record, an .860 winning percentage. The Beavers have reached the 3A quarterfinals or further in seven of those eight years, and the second round in the other season.
More photos online at gctelegram.com.
Beloit 8 14 8 6 -- 36
Scott City 7 6 0 0 -- 13
SC--Chris Pounds 4 pass from Trey O'Neil (Tre Stewart kick), 7:41, 7-0.
BEL--Payton Vetter 6 run (Vetter run), 4:55, 7-8.
BEL--Vetter 13 run (run failed), 8:00, 7-14.
SC--Brayden Strine 68 pass from O'Neil (kick blocked), 7:35, 13-14.
BEL--Bowe Behymer 5 run (RJ Jackson pass from Vetter), 4:58, 13-22.
BEL--Behymer 88 fumble recovery return (Dustin Reiter pass from Vetter), 9:47, 13-30.
BEL--Jackson 55 pass from Vetter (pass failed), 5:01, 13-36.
First downs 24 18
Rushes-yards 62-354 25-133
Passing yards 92 254
Passes (Com-Att-Int) 5-9-1 15-33-1
Fumbles-lost 2-1 1-1
Penalties-yards 5-35 8-60
Punts-avg. 0-0 2-29.5
RUSHING--Beloit: Vetter 19-140, Niemczyk 7-24, Behymer 27-165, Jackson 8-26. Scott City: Strine 4-10, Baker 3-32, Wy. Kropp 14-52, O'Neil 4-39.
PASSING--Beloit: Vetter 5-9-1--92. Scott City: O'Neil 15-33-1--254.
RECEIVING--Beloit: Niemczyk 1-11, Behymer 1-(-4), Jackson 3-85. Scott City: Strine 6-137, Yager 4-60, Baker 2-29, Pounds 3-28.