SCOTT CITY — The Scott City Beavers continued to roll into the postseason as they dominated in the opening round of the 3A state playoffs, dispatching the Nickerson Panthers, 38-0, Friday night in Scott City.
The shutout marked the fifth one of the season for the Beavers, as they took a 35-0 lead midway through the third quarter and cruised from there, advancing to the second round of the state playoffs, where they will host Beloit.
The Beavers (9-0) dusted Beloit, 55-12, on the road on Oct. 4. The Trojans downed Hugoton, 28-0, on Friday to reach the re-match with Scott City.
“Well, you know the goal coming in was to clean some stuff that we didn't do very well at Concordia last week, and a lot of that was on the defensive front,” Scott City head coach Jim Turner said.
As dominant as the defense has been for Scott City this season, Turner knows his team can always find room to improve, especially up front, and he saw that happened on Friday vs. Nickerson.
“They’re young, some of them, so its been kind of up and down, but for the most part, it was a lot better than Concordia,” he said. “They just weren't incredibly consistent, but we get another week to play, and another week to work on it.”
It was not just the defense that was on its game on Friday — it only took the Beavers three plays to get on the board. After the first two plays only gained a combined 3 yards, junior Brandon Winderland busted through the middle of the Panther defensive line for a 44-yard touchdown run. Scott City, after a Panther offsides penalty, converted on a two-point conversion for the early 8-0 advantage.
“It’s important for us to block things correctly with our scheme. We’ve got pretty good backs, and if we’re blocking pretty well, they're gonna make some people miss,” Turner said.
The second drive for the Beavers also resulted in their second touchdown of the game, when senior Wyatt Hayes rolled through the Panther defense to score the first of this two touchdowns on a 4-yard run.
Defensively, the Beavers did not allow Nickerson (2-7) to do much as they held the Panthers to 74 total yards — and 57 of those yards came in the first half.
After forcing the Panthers to punt on the second drive, the Beavers were pinned back at their own 2-yard line, their worst field position of the game.
That did not stop the offensive roll. The Beavers marched 98 yards and capped the drive off with Hayes’ second touchdown, this one from 2 yards.
The Beavers scored on four of their five first-half possessions, the last of which came when senior Parker Vulgamore ran in a 4-yard touchdown, finishing a drive that started at the Beavers’ own 20 yard line. The Vulgamore touchdown gave the Beavers a 28-0 lead entering halftime.
“I think they were keying in on Wyatt (Hayes) as far as our offense, and trying to stop the run with him, because we noticed everytime we go in motion they are flying out with him, so we opened up some stuff for Brandon (Winderlin) and he ran the ball really well,” Turner said.
Both of his running backs had strong performances as Hayes finished the night with 97 yards on 21 carries and two touchdowns. Hayes’ backfield partner, Winderlin, finished with 100 yards on five carries and two touchdowns.
The only drive the Beavers did not score on in the first half came when Hunter Yager intercepted a Nickerson pass with less than a minute to play in the half, and Scott City just ran out the clock.
Nickerson’s first drive of the second half was more of the same. The Beavers gave no room, and the Panthers were forced to punt.
After a 30-yard return from Hayes, the Beavers began the drive at the Nickerson 30, and five plays later, Winderlin scored his second rushing touchdown on a 5-yard run with 7:55 left in the third quarter.
After a 40-yard Moses Hinojos field goal to cap scoring, the Beavers put the game in cruise control.
UPDATE: This post has been updated with quotes, and information throughout.