By BRETT MARSHALL
ULYSSES — Often times in sports, the game itself doesn't meet the pre-contest hoopla when two undefeated teams clash.
Saturday was one of those times that the game did meet the hype.
And by taking advantage of its opportunities, the Scott City Beavers prevailed, 27-13, over the Ulysses Tigers at Maxwell Field in a game that was delayed 18 hours after being postponed on Friday night due to rain and lightning.
For the Beavers, the extra trip back to Tiger Country was worth every headache incurred by arriving home late Friday and then having to arise early on a Saturday morning for the trek back down US Highway 83 and K-160.
For the Tigers and coach Jason Kenny, this game will be remembered for missed opportunities when it had taken the momentum away from the Beavers, something no other team had been able to do all season.
"We just made more mistakes in the red zone (inside Scott City's 20-yard line) and that was the big difference," Kenny said of his Tigers, who "They were aggressive and really came after us and I'm not sure we handled it well at the beginning."
Indeed, it was Ulysses who grabbed the early lead, getting a touchdown run of three yards by Razzy Morales with 4:49 to play in the first quarter that capped off a 59-yard drive that was highlighted by runs of 30 and 22 yards by Josh Jarnagin.
"He's just a great back and they hurt us with that quick pitch," O'Neil said of Jarnagin, who finished with 94 yards on 16 carries. "One on one, Jarnagin was just better than our guys. He's just one of those backs that you try to keep from giving up the giant run."
After Morales' opening score, the Beavers came right back with their first answer, this one an 8-yard run from a Wildcat formation in which wide receiver Tyler Hess lined up in the shotgun while quarterback Brett O'Neil was located as a wide receiver to the right.
O'Neil booted the tying extra point with 41 seconds left in the opening quarter, making it 7-7 at the end of 12 minutes.
The teams traded touchdowns in the second quarter, with the Tigers regaining the lead when Braden Langston connected with Garrett Kissell on a 6-yard TD pass with 8:53 to play in the half. Jarnagin's extra point kick was wide left, but Scott City was penalized for a personal foul. The Tigers, on the second attempt, went for two and Armando Sandoval was stopped just short of the goal line.
Back came the Beavers a second time with Colborn Couchman getting the TD from three yards out with 6:54 remaining. O'Neil's PAT kick put the Beavers up 14-13.
Scott City had one missed scoring opportunity late in the half as they drove to the Ulysses 11-yard line where the drive stalled. A 28-yard field goal attempt by O'Neil was short and left with 9.7 seconds left before the break.
Ulysses took the third quarter kickoff and marched all the way to the Scott City 6-yard line where on third down Braeden Robinson picked off a Langston pass intended for Tate Annis and returned it 42 yards to stop the Tigers' drive for the go-ahead touchdown.
"That was a big play for the momentum," Kenny said of the Tigers' inability to score on that opening drive. "I thought we had them a little on their heels. I'd liked to have scored then and see how things went from there. The switch of momentum is just part of the nature of the game."
The Beavers got their next scoring opportunity after another Ulysses miscue, this time an illegal shift penalty on fourth down from the Scott City 26 cost the Tigers another drive. From there, Scott City traveled 71 yards in nine plays and scored when O'Neil, scrambling in the backfield, found Robinson on a corner pattern for a touchdown that came on a fourth-and-seven play from 11 yards out.
Ulysses had one last good scoring opportunity on its ensuing drive with the big play coming on a 57-yard pass from Langston to Annis. But the drive stalled and Jarnagin's field goal attempt from 33 yards out missed well to the right. That came with 9:28 left in the game.
"This was a playoff type game and you can't have those mistakes and keep going," Jarnagin said of his team's missed chances. "We're just gonna learn from this, move on, and get ready for the next game. I think both teams played well, it's the kind of game you look forward to playing and it was just good, hard-hitting, smash-mouth football. It's why we play and we love it this way."
Couchman, who finished the game with 166 yards rushing on 27 carries, finished off the scoring with 2:42 to play in the game on a 6-yard TD run. The 200-pound fullback had a big day for the Beavers, who saw their outside running game shut down by the Tigers' defense.
"They shut down our sweeps and we just used the power up the middle," Couchman said. "It was a little nerve-wracking and I think maybe we got down a little after Ulysses scored first. But we stuck together and I think it shows that if we get down (on the board) we can go after it and want to win. The meaningful part of this is that we had to play a whole game, it was close. They hit us in the mouth, we came back, and this feels amazing."
In the end, it was four pass interceptions by the Beaver defense and nine Ulysses penalties that made the difference in the outcome.
"We were willing to trade those 10- to 15-yard plays for not giving up any long yardage," O'Neil said. "But we had some guys that were sucking air out there and we've got to be in better condition because we'll have to play a full game again and when we do, we need to be better prepared."
Scott City 7 7 0 13 — 27
Ulysses 7 6 0 0 — 13
ULY—Razzy Morales 3 run (Josh Jarnagin kick), 4:49.
SC—Tyler Hess 8 run (Brett O'Neil kick), :41.
ULY—Garrett Kissell 6 pass from Braden Langston (run failed), 8:53.
SC—Colborn Couchman 3 run (O'Neil kick), 6:54.
SC—Braeden Robinson 11 pass from O'Neil (O'Neil kick), 11:15.
SC—Couchman 6 run (run failed), 2:42.
First downs 19 14
Rushes-yards 53-239 32-145
Passing Yards 114 167
Passes (Com-Att-Int) 6-12-1 10-19-4
Total yards 353 312
Fumbles-lost 0-0 0-0
Penalties-yards 5-25 9-65
Punts-avg. 4-28.2 2-30.0
Time of Possession 28:07 19:53
RUSHING—Scott City: Buehler 10-24, O'Neil 1-(-8), Smith 11-54, Couchman 27-166, Hess 2-5, Team 2-(-2); Ulysses: Newell 1-2, Jarnagin 16-94, Sandoval 13-45, Morales 2-4.
PASSING—Scott City: O'Neil 6-12-1—114; Ulysses: Langston 10-19-3—167.
RECEIVING—Scott City: Robinson 3-48, Hayes 1-11, Buehler 2-55; Ulysses: Newell 2-35, Annis 2-64, Kissell 4-56, Jarnagin 2-12.