Ulysses' ground game ends Scott City's winning streak
BY BRETT MARSHALL
ULYSSES — It had been a long wait for senior Chase Rudzik and his Ulysses Tigers.
In each of his three previous varsity seasons, Rudzik and the Tigers had to watch as powerhouse Scott City ran right through them en route to a unbeaten regular season after unbeaten regular season and three Great West Activities Conference titles.
But on Friday night at Maxwell Field, the Tigers roared, and roared, and roared.
The biggest Tiger of all was Chase's "little" brother, 6-foot-2, 220-pound running back Ian, who put the Beavers into a meat grinder and feasted, leading the way for a dominating 25-6 victory that ended Scott City's 40-game regular-season winning streak that dated back to 2008.
"I can't even begin to describe the feeling," Chase, who plays both offensive line and linebacker for the Tigers. "Early on, they hit us hard, but we just reacted with a nasty attitude and that is what it takes against them. Scott will fight you to the end."
It was Chase's younger sibling that provided the rugged rushing yards that eventually wore the Beavers down. All he did was run for 181 yards on 20 carries (9.0 yard average) and scored three of the four Tiger touchdowns.
"Last year I was hurt and I felt I had something to prove tonight," Ian said. "I wanted to show what I was made of and it was an emotional game. Chase pumps me up and I knew in the end we'd come out on top."
Rudzik's TDs came on runs of 13, 15 and 38 yards, one each in the second, third and fourth quarters that broke open a tight game after one period.
But it was a 39-yard scoring run by Tregg Rodriguez midway through the first quarter that perhaps turned out to be the biggest play of all in stemming the early Beaver momentum, and putting the Tigers back on their feet.
The Tigers had fumbled on the opening kickoff at midfield and Scott City responded with a 7-play drive — six of those on the ground — and scored on Martin Gough's 5-yard run with only four minutes gone in the game.
"We knew they'd be good," Ulysses coach Jason Kenny said of the Beavers. "They came out and ran it right down our throats. But our kids kept battling and I'm so proud of them. This is good for our program, for the school and for the community."
The Tigers took that kickoff and reached the Beavers' 39-yard line, where they faced a fourth-and-9 situation going into the teeth of a 25 mph wind. They short-snapped it to Rodriguez, who seemingly was stopped twice behind the line of scrimmage, but broke to the right, made two swift cuts and was off to the end zone, where he dove in for the tying score.
"We didn't play special teams well at all tonight," Scott City coach Glenn O'Neil said. "When you lose that battle and the turnover battle, you're not going to win very many games. Give Ulysses credit. They came out and did what they needed to do. Their size was a big difference and they do what they do very well."
For the Tigers (3-1 overall, 2-0 in the GWAC), they host Goodland on Friday for homecoming. Scott City, meanwhile, will lick its wounds and host Hugoton.
As expected, the howling wind played havoc with both teams in the opening half.
Scott City won the coin toss, deferred and then Ulysses elected to take the ball, thus giving the Beavers the wind in the opening period.
The Tigers gave the ball away on their first possession after two long runs by Rudzik, who got rocked at the 50 and fumbled it away. That set the Beavers up at midfield and it took them seven plays to cover the distance, with Martin Gough rumbling over from the 5-yard line. Tim Bolle, the German foreign exchange student, who booted the game-winning field goal a week earlier to beat Holcomb, missed the point-after. With 8 minutes showing, the Beavers were up 6-0.
That led to the surprising fake punt that knotted the score at 6.
The Beavers missed a golden opportunity later in the first, when a high-arcing pass from Trey O'Neil to Chris Pounds bounced off the wide receiver and fell into the hands of Riley Seger, who was sprawled out on the ground at the 2-yard line.
Early in the second, following a Scott City fumble, a short punt into the wind and a facemask 15-yard penalty, the Tigers set up shop at the Beavers' 36-yard line and it took them only four plays to reach the end zone, with Rudzik bulling his way in from 13-yards out. They went for two, but Zach Romero was stopped short and the Tigers owned a 12-6 lead with 6:18 left before intermission.
That's the way it remained, although the Beavers ate up the remainder of the clock, moving from their own 20 to the Tigers' 29 before the drive died. With no timeouts, the Beavers took two consecutive delay penalties and then went to the knee to run the clock out.
Midway through the fourth, after stopping the Beavers once more, the Tigers did what they had done all night.
Run, run, and then run again. With 7:13 on the clock, Ulysses simply ground it out. Then, facing fourth-and-12 at midfield, snapped the ball to Rudzik, who swept outside and gained 15 yards to keep the ball in the Tigers' possession. They ran the clock all the way to the end of the game.
O'Neil said the Beavers will regroup and take something away.
"It's the first time we've come up against a physical team, and so we've got to learn how to better handle that," O'Neil said. "As a coach, you don't expect to win every game. It was a great run, but I'm proud that our kids played hard all the way. Tonight it wasn't about what Ulysses did, but how they did it. And they did it well."
Scott City 6 0 0 0 -- 6
Ulysses 6 6 6 7 -- 25
SC--Martin Gough 5 run (kick failed), 8:00.
ULY--Tregg Rodriguez 39 run (kick failed), 5:43.
ULY--Ian Rudzik 13 run (run failed), 6:18.
ULY--Rudzik 15 run (kick failed), 3:45.
ULY--Rudzik 38 run (Jorge Mendez kick), 9:51.
First downs 13 14
Rushes-yards 32-115 45-279
Passing yards 86 18
Passes 11-24-1 1-2-0
Fumbles-lost 2-2 3-1
Penalties-yards 5-45 8-55
Punts-avg. 4-30.0 3-47.6
RUSHING--Scott City: Kropp 2-16, Meyer 1-8, Strine 4-(-5), O'Neil 4-(-4), Yager 1-2, Banda 5-23, Gough 6-30, Griffith 9-39; Ulysses: Walters 4-(-8), Seger 3-28, Romero 18-78, I. Rudzik 20-181.
PASSING--Scott City:O'Neil 8-14-1--59, Meyer 3-10-0--27; Ulysses: Walters 1-2-0--18.
RECEIVING--Scott City: Strine 2-30, Pounds 7-52, Yager 1-3, Kropp 1-1; Ulysses: Partida 1-18.
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