SCOTT CITY — And just like that, Scott City moves on in the playoffs.
The Beavers took their one and only lead of Friday's Class 4A-II playoff game with just under four minutes left in the final quarter.
With that 21-14 lead coming on a 35-yard scoring play by Jarret Jurgens, Scott City pulled off the comeback win over visiting Kingman to advance into next Friday’s quarterfinal game, keeping the Beavers' perfect season alive.
The Beavers travel to Clay Center, 21-20 winners over Nickerson Friday night.
Scott City, the class’ top-ranked team, overcame a 14-0 deficit, three fumbles and an interception to improve to 10-0.
On the winning play, Jurgens took the hand-off and headed right, but he cut back across the middle after five yards and was off to the races for his game-changing score.
“I’m supposed to bounce it outside, but I saw some people coming up, so I just cut it back and it was open,” Jurgens said. “There was a safety hanging back just watching me, so I put a little move on him and got outside, and from there I was just open, so I just ran.”
The Beavers’ defense stepped up big the entire second half, holding the Eagles scoreless after they had taken a 14-0 lead with just over four minutes to play in the second period.
The biggest defensive play of the game came with 2:11 left, following Jurgens’ score, and Kingman down to a 4th and 10.
After Kingman called time out, quarterback Riley Krehbiel threw to William Milford, but the under-thrown ball fell short.
That gave Scott City the ball with two minutes to play, and all the Beavers had to do was hold on to the ball.
They did so, giving Kingman just one play to try a pass with under a second to play, but Adrian Ruelas picked off the final pass attempt to seal the win.
Assistant coach Brian Gentry had nothing but praise for the way his team responded after Kingman’s wishbone running game dominated much of the first half.
“Coach (Jim) Turner did a phenomenal job with the defensive adjustments, at halftime especially,” he said. “We took out a lot of our big kids (on the line), and with a little more speed, and brought up a couple linebackers into the mix and really tightened it up.”
It came down to a simple philosophy after Kingman went up 14-0, he added.
“Do you want to go make plays, or do you want to be done?” Gentry said. “We’ve been down 14-0 and 12-0 (to Holcomb in game two and Concordia last week), and our kids are pretty resilient. They don’t give in. They rise to the challenge most of the time, and tonight was no different.”
Kingman scored on its second possession of the game, after a Scott City fumble.
Starting at the Beavers’ 24-yard line, the Eagles drove to the 1 on seven plays, and then Devin Williams plunged over for his first touchdown.
The big play of that opening drive came on 4th-and-3. Kingman called timeout and came back out set to run. John Molitor broke loose for an 11-yard gain to keep the drive alive and help set up the score.
In the second period, Kingman sustained an 86-yard, 15-play drive that consumed 8:44, capped by Williams’ second 1-yard run.
After that performance, it was hard to imagine that would be the Eagles’ final score.
Scott City, with 1:15 to play in the half, cut the lead to 14-7, when Wyatt Hayes scored on a 4-yard run. Marshall Faurot set it up with a kickoff return to the 50, and the Beavers capitalized eight plays later.
“That definitely gave us a lot of momentum. We were really down in the dumps before that,” Faurot said of the score.
Scott City got the ball on the opening kickoff, but the offense turned it over on one play with a deflected interception.
But the resiliency of coach Bryant came through as the defense forced a punt, and five plays later, Parker Gooden found Faurot on the home sideline for a 31-scoring strike and the tie.
“That was the play call,” Faurot said. “I had some really good blocking, too. I didn’t have to do much but run in a straight line. Those guys cleared a path for me.”
Both teams went scoreless the next three possessions, but it was the Beavers capitalizing on the third that proved to be the winner.
Starting at their own 32 with 8:12 to play, the Beavers picked up three first downs to get to the Kingman 42. Two running plays later, they were down to the 35, setting up Jurgens’ game-winning run — almost run as designed.
“The initial hole was there,” Gentry said. “But (Jurgens) has great vision. He has great footwork, and he was able to bounce it back and cut across the grain right there. You give the ball to your playmakers, and they go make plays for you.”
On the ensuing kickoff, King swung out wide, looking for a big run back. But Ruelas knocked the returner backwards three yards, forcing the Eagles to start at their own 17-yard line with just 4:21 to play.
Eight plays later, they had turned the ball over on downs and Scott City ran its final time-consuming drive to seal the win.
Scott City’s leading tackler, Nick Nowak, went down early in the game and never returned.
“When he goes down, that’s a huge blow to our team,” Gentry said. “That just shows what kind of senior leadership we have, and that they fight for their brother.”
Key to the win for the defense was stopping what had become a potent running game over the past few weeks for Kingman. Gentry said his guys made the adjustments.
“They hit the holes hard, and (Molitor) is just a spectacular runner,” he said. “Our guys battled all night after those first couple drives where they just ran it down our throat.”
The stop on Kingman’s final series was key, Gentry added.
“Everybody did their job. They didn’t get caught up in the moment. They did assignment football,” he said. “That’s all you can ask.”