The Scott City Beavers found themselves in a position that they haven't been in all season Friday night in Andale — one where they just didn't have the answers.
The Beavers struggled to match Andale's physicality. They often were caught off-balance by the Indians' play calling. And when the Beavers' defense needed to get a stop, too often they couldn't get off the field.
The result was a dominating, 35-14 victory for Andale in the Class 3A playoffs, and the end to an otherwise spectacular season for Scott City.
“We just struggled to get stops on defense,” Scott City head coach Jim Turner said of what ailed the Beavers on Friday. “They ran power stuff at us and threw the pass here and there, but they were pretty physical up front, and we just couldn't put two or three good plays in a row to get a stop and force them to punt.”
The Indians (11-0) dominated the time of possession and out-gained the Beavers 374 yards to 128 in powering their way into the state semifinals, where they will face Pratt (11-0).
Friday’s game didn't start off as grim as it ended for the Beavers, as they forced the Indians into a three-and-out on their first possession of the game.
Turnovers turned the game around for the Indians, as on the first play following the Indians punt, the Beavers fumbled the ball away at their own 38-yard line.
On the ninth play of the ensuing drive, Andale punched it in on a Mac Brand 8-yard touchdown run, giving the Indians the early 7-0 lead. Brand ended up running for 190 yards and three touchdowns on 33 carries.
Being outsized is not something the Beavers have to deal with much, but that was the case against the Indians.
“Yeah, probably a little bit,” Turner said about being outsized. “I was proud of our kids — they played hard and never gave up, even if they were outsized.”
Andale's physicality took a toll, though.
“Their game plan grinded at you, and they kind of trickled it down the field on us. We would get a good stop, and then we would give up a big play on a counter in the first half. In the second half, we did a lot better job on the counter, and then they ran their sweep,” Turner said.
The Beavers did get a game-tying score early in the second quarter on a 10-play, 60-yard drive, ending in a Wyatt Hayes 3-yard touchdown run.
But Andale followed that up with an 18-play, 84-yard march that took up nearly 8 minutes, during which the Indians converted third down after third down, with Brand eventually scoring on a 3-yard run.
The Indian offense converted on nine of 15 third downs in the game, as well as four of four fourth-down attempts.
The Indians mixed up their play calls well, Turner said.
“I think they throw it a few times a game anyway, usually trying to surprise you a little bit. But on third and long, they pass most of the time. Part of it was the situation at the end of the second quarter where they are trying to get down the field and score, and they threw it three or four times in a row,” Turner said.
The Beavers were held to only 64 yards in the first half, while the Indians tallied up 166 yards on 48 plays.
Early in the second half, Andale added to its lead, scoring on a 9-yard touchdown pass from Ethan Baalman to Devin Mark and then tacking on another score for a 28-7 lead.
The Beavers then mounted their best drive of the night, going on a 12-play, 78-yard scoring drive, capped by a Parker Gooden 5-yard touchdown run, cutting the Indians' lead to 28-14.
Any rumbling of a Scott City comeback was quickly silenced by Andale, as the first play of the Indians’ sixth drive ended in the end zone on a 55-yard run by Brand.
Even though their promising season fell short of their goal of winning the state title, the Beavers still accomplished much, going unbeaten through the regular season and winning the GWAC championship.
“We got a bunch of good kids that are pretty easy to coach, and our senior leaders were incredible this year,” Turner said. “The upperclassmen were always positive and upbeat, and the younger kids would always comment about how good of leaders they were. I'll always remember that.”