By BRETT MARSHALL
SCOTT CITY — Rarely does a football game's outcome hinge on two plays at the start of the first quarter.
But that's exactly what happened here Friday night in what was an eventual 38-12 blowout by the Scott City Beavers over rival Ulysses.
Here's how it happened:
On Ulysses' first possession of the game, facing fourth and one at their own 44, the Tigers' Josh Jarnagin was stopped for no gain.
When Ron Baker went under center for the Beavers on their first scrimmage play, he took the snap, went off right tackle and broke free for a 43-yard touchdown scamper seconds later.
With only nine seconds gone off the clock for the Beavers, they were up 7-0.
"They came out and stunned us," said Ulysses coach Jason Kenny. "They're a good football team and that was a big momentum change. Their defensive end (Luke Hayes) came up with a big stop. Then Baker scores right off the bat. He's a very good player and they just hit us early. We didn't handle the adversity very well early."
The Tigers didn't fare well on their next possession either, and following a 23-yard punt, Scott City was back in business at their own 31. Eleven plays later and 5:38 off the clock and the Beavers scored again, this time on a 9-yard pass from Baker to a wide open Tyler Hess.
"We wanted to come out and make them know what we're about," Baker said of the Beavers' fast 13-0 start. "I thought our line really stepped it up this week and they made the biggest improvement of the season. You name it, we were able to get it when we needed to."
A 28-yard field goal by Brett O'Neil with 9:24 showing on the clock and a Baker plunge from 1-yard out at the 1:11 mark extended the Beavers lead into halftime at 23-0. Game, for the most part, over.
"I thought we came out pretty focused in the first half," said a relieved Scott City coach Glenn O'Neil. "We were able to attack their gaps and our fullbacks ran well and I'm sure the line blocked well to get the yards we did."
If the first half was all Scott City, the second half was played for pride and Ulysses showed that they still have plenty of it left.
"I felt like our kids responded to what we had to say at halftime," Kenny said. "We've just got to take what we can from this and get ready for districts. We have to get better at reacting to adversity. I thought we had some people step up in the second half and do that for us. We'll be fine."
The Tigers held the Beavers on the opening drive of the third quarter and then put together their best offensive drive of the night.
It took just over five minutes, but the touchdown march covered 73 yards in 14 plays with Jarnagin getting the final yard. A two-point conversion run failed and at 4:01, it was 23-6.
It then appeared that The Tigers had once again halted a Scott City drive, forcing the Beavers to punt. Ulysses got the ball back on their own 19 but on the third play, quarterback Braden Langston was intercepted by the Beavers' Colborn Couchman. Five plays and 2:20 later, the Beavers scored on a 24-yard pass from Baker to O'Neil and the game was virtually put away with just under 10 minutes left in the game.
Scott City would score once more, this one on a 33-yard scamper around right end by Dalton Buehler and Baker tacked on a 2-point conversion. The Tigers got their final TD with 2.4 seconds left when Armando Sandoval scooted in from the 7-yard-line.
"Ultimately, we have to bury this game and get ready for next week," Kenny said. "But we've got to learn from this loss as well."
For the Beavers, the win also clinched the first title of the newly-formed Great West Activities Conference. They are now 6-0 while Ulysses falls to 4-2.
District play begins for both teams next week and the second season looms large for each.
O'Neil said the victory was the best his team had played since an opening victory over Garden City, 16-14.
"They are the two best teams we've faced and it is the best two games we've had," O'Neil said. "With all the illness we've had this week, I'm happy with how the kids responded."
Scott City hosts Southwestern Heights next Friday in 3A district action while Ulysses is at home against Holcomb in Class 4A play.
Ulysses-Scott City Stats
Ulysses 0 0 6 6 -- 12
Scott City 13 10 0 15 -- 38
SC — Ron Baker 43 run (Brett O'Neil kick), 9:57
SC — Tyler Hess 9 pass from Baker (kick failed), 2:05
SC — O'Neil 28 field goal, 9:24
SC — Baker 1 run (O'Neil kick), 1:11
ULY — Josh Jarnagin 1 run (run failed), 4:01
SC — O'Neil 24 pass from Baker (O'Neil kick), 9:40
SC — Dalton Buehler 33 run (Baker run), 3:36
ULY — Armando Sandoval 7 run (run failed), :02.4
First downs 11 15
Rushes-yards 50-193 49-259
Passing 23 85
Comp-Att-Int 3-12-1 6-10-0
Punts 5-25.6 3-38.0
Fumbles-Lost 3-1 1-0
Penalties-Yards 4-34 9-75
Possession Time 21:16 26:44
RUSHING--Ulysses, Langston 5-(-5), Jarnagin 19-67, Sandoval 10-28, Newell 1-2, Everett 5-58, Morales 6-33, Rodriguez 4-10. Scott City, Baker 10-30, Buehler 9-63, Smith 7-37, Williams 14-67, Couchman 8-62, Kough 1-0.
PASSING--Ulysses, Langston 3-12-1--23. Scott City, Ron Baker 6-10-0--85.
RECEIVING--Ulysses, Zirkle 1-11, Sandoval 1-7, Newell 1-5. Scott City, O'Neil 1-24, Hayes 1-6, Robinson 3-45, Hess 1-9.