Over the hump: Scott City thrashes Garden Plain in quarterfinal win
By BRETT MARSHALL
SCOTT CITY — It didn't take long, but the Scott City Beavers exorcised all the ghosts of playoffs past.
They did it swiftly, methodically and surgically.
In the end, the game that was supposed to be razor-thin, skin-tight, was nothing like that at all.
The Beavers made sure of it.
The final score of 49-0 really says it all. Or maybe the halftime score — 42-0 — says more.
Nobody, but nobody — not Scott City head coach Glenn O'Neil, not Garden Plain coach Brad McCormick or any of the players or fans saw this one coming.
Not when both teams came in unbeaten with 11-0 records, juggernaut offenses and stifling defenses.
But somebody forgot to tell the Beavers.
They took advantage of every single opportunity that was gift-wrapped by the turnover-prone Owls, and every offensive drive they started in their own end of the field resulted in a score, except at the end of the half when they simply ran out the clock.
Simply put, it was an old-fashioned rear-end kicking.
"We had to make a strong statement that we've got a great team," said senior lineman Michael McEachern afterward.
And for the first time in his six years of head coaching at Scott City, O'Neil's Beavers will be playing in the Class 3A semifinals on Friday.
They will get the Beloit Trojans, 52-24 winners over Sedgwick in the other west semifinal. The game will be a 7 p.m. start Friday at Trojan Stadium.
In four of the previous five seasons, the Beavers' seasons had ended agonizingly in the quarterfinal round, and once in the second round.
But not Friday night.
"It was in the back of our minds, but we just told ourselves that we've gotta come out and play with no fear," McEachern said of those previous season heartbreakers. "We knew their defense really well, we were confident. They were big, but so were we. This feels amazing. We knew it would be a dogfight, and really, it was."
Perhaps the signs of the blowout were ominous at the outset of the game when Scott City speedster Dalton Buehler took the opening kickoff back 73 yards to set up shop for the Beavers at the Owls' 15-yard line.
It did take six plays and a critical 5-yard penalty on 4th-and-3 from the Garden Plain 8 for the Beavers to put up the first points of the night. That came on Buehler's crunching 1-yard run. Brett O'Neil's first of seven perfect PAT kicks made it 7-0 with 9:11 to go in the first quarter.
"I think Dalton's runback definitely got us going," said coach Glenn O'Neil. "The fourth down was big, it gave us the momentum. From there, it just snowballed. We were able to capitalize on their mistakes and the offense came up with big play after big play."
Buehler, who had rushed for more than 1,500 yards through the first 11 games for the Beavers, finished with 130 yards on 11 carries. He added four touchdowns, the first short one followed by a 16-yard sweep around right end late in the first, then tacked on a 35-yard pass from Brett O'Neil, and then added icing on the cake with a 78-yard scamper early in the second quarter.
In between, Brett O'Neil, the Beavers' senior quarterback, found his younger brother Trey for a 12-yard TD strike at the 4:21 mark of the second, and added his third and fourth scoring passes of 20 yards to Chris Pounds just 3:21 before intermission and then found Brenner Wells on a short out pattern from 5 yards out late in the third.
That would be the end of the scoring and with the 45-point rule in effect, the running clock rule kicked in and led to the eventual merciful ending for the Owls.
Who would have predicted that a team that had averaged 47.2 points and nearly 380 yards rushing in its previous 11 wins, would be stuffed, mounted and hung out to dry. That's what happened to the Owls. The Beavers' stifling defense simply was too much, limiting them to 157 total yards, 97 of those on the ground and 60 through the air.
Just as important, the Beavers' defense forced the Owls into seven turnovers. Five interceptions of quarterback Caleb Arnold and two recovered fumbles created one opportunity after another for the Beavers.
Six times they had the ball in the opening 22 minutes, six times they found the end zone. Only when Brett O'Neil took a knee on consecutive plays at the end of the first half did the Beavers not ring up points.
"I'm just so proud of my teammates and the credit goes to the blockers," Buehler said. "On the kickoff, I saw the defender coming in and I read him just right and cut to the outside. We played a tough team tonight and we played a tough game. We're just taking these one at a time. We're just so happy to get this one out of the way. Yes, this feels good to get past this round. Everyone's been talking about. It's nice to get this put aside."
Even coach O'Neil said his team was uncertain about its confidence earlier in the week.
"I've got to credit my coaches because they got the kids together (Wednesday), watched a little film and convinced the kids that we had a chance, that we could win this game," O'Neil said. "You're fighting history and there's always a little self-doubt. But the coaches got them to believe. And we were able to convince everyone that there's nothing wrong with ourselves. We're a pretty darned good team, too."
O'Neil said it was critical in the early stages of the game to control the Garden Plain offense and force them into passing on longer yardage downs.
"We couldn't let them get into their option game because they're so good with it," O'Neil said. "We just had to get them out of their comfort zone and I think we accomplished that."
And for his senior QB son, Brett, the game evolution was not anything he or his teammates expected.
"We thought it would be closer, but we got off to such a good start and that boosted our confidence," Brett O'Neil said. "At that point, we just said, 'let's go do it.' We finally broke the curse. We can't be satisfied because our ultimate goal is to win the state. Now, we just get ready for the next game."
Garden Plain 0 0 0 0 -- 0
Scott City 21 21 7 0 -- 49
SC--Daltonj Buehler 1 run (Brett O'Neil kick), 9:11. 15 yards, 6 plays, 2:49.
SC--Trey O'Neil 12 pass from Brett O'Neil (B. O'Neil kick), 4:21. 57 yards, 6 plays, 2:23.
SC--Buehler 16 run (B. O'Neil kick), 3:19. 30 yards, 2 plays, 0:17.
SC--Buehler 35 pass from B. O'Neil (B. O'Neil kick), 11:11. 61 yards, 6 plays, 2:01.
SC--Buehler 78 run (B. O'Neil kick), 9:13. 78 yards, 1 play, 0:13.
SC--Chris Pounds 20 pass from B. O'Neil (B. O'Neil kick), 3:08. 60 yards, 9 plays, 2:41.
SC--Brenner Wells 5 pass from B. O'Neil (B. O'Neil kick), 4:34. 70 yards, 10 plays, 4:23.
Team Statistics GP SC
First downs 11 17
Rushes-yards 32-97 34-235
Passing yards 60 72
Com-Att-Int 8-19-5 6-10-0
Fumbles-lost 4-2 2-1
Penalties-yards 4-20 3-20
Punts-avg. 3-39.0 1-26.0
RUSHING--Garden Plain: Clark 9-43, Arnold 14-27, Doyle 7-23, Balestracci 1-3, Bugner 1-1. Scott City: Buehler 11-130, Wells 11-69, B. O'Neil 2-20, Banda 2-6, Hess 4-27, Kough 4-2, Gough 1-8, Hutchins 1-1, Team 2-(-2).
PASSING--Garden Plain: Arnold 7-17-5--60, Doyle 0-1-0--0. Scott City: B. O'Neil 6-10-0--72.
RECEIVING--Garden Plain: Bugner 1-15, Doyle 1-7, Schumacher 3-34, Milford 1-(-1), Clark 1-5, Panek 1-0. Scott City: T. O'Neil 1-12, Kite 1-11, Wells 2-10, Pounds 1-20, Hess 1-19.