By PAUL STURM, C-T Sports Editor
CHILLICOTHE, Mo «» Likely one first down away from being in a scoreless halftime deadlock with the visiting Maryville Spoofhounds, last year's Class 3 state champions, the Chillicothe High School Hornets committed their only turnover in the first three games of the 2013 season. That opening was all Maryville needed to ignite its offense on the way to an eventual 32-7 Midland Empire Conference win Friday.
In a 0-0 game that might have ended far, far closer, MHS linebacker Tyler Coleman beat CHS quarterback Tyler Clampitt to the loose ball at the Hornets' 9-yard line after a botched exchange from center with 2:38 left in the first half. Instead of likely being able to run out the clock, had it been able to achieve one first down on the series which began after Cole Nichols' interception at the CHS 18, Chillicothe gave the Spoofhounds a short field to try to crack the scoring ice and, despite hard resistance from the Hornets' defense, Maryville did, changing the tenor of the game.
Following the fumble recovery, the Spoofhounds wounded themselves with an illegal procedure penalty on second-and-goal at the 1. Two runs gained a total of four yards, making it fourth-and-goal from the 2. With an impotent placekicking game, Maryville (3-0, 1-0 MEC) predictably went for the touchdown and got it with a plunge over right guard by fullback Trent Dredge 58 seconds before intermission.
Up 6-0 at the mid-game break, the visiting Spoofhounds again capitalized on an execution breakdown by the hosts minutes into the second half to take a firmer grip on victory.
When Chillicothe (2-1, 0-1) couldn't follow up a nice double-digit gain by Gillen Gates on its first play from scrimmage in the third period, the Hornets were forced to punt on fourth-and-14 from their 36. With the ball on the left hashmark (from the offense's perspective), the left-footed Clampitt, whose punting had played important parts in the Hornets' two season-starting triumphs, had the ball angle sharply left off his foot for only a 5-yards kick.
On its first offensive snap of the second half, Maryville sent reserve halfback Dakota Beemer – forced into full-time action by the first-half injury of All-State running back/starting safety Brody McMahon – sweeping around left end. As he reached the perimeter, the Hornets' hot pursuit limited his space there. However, with his blockers continuing to pursue their blocks, that created a cutback lane for the MHS ballcarrier, who angled back to his right behind his linemen and then veered sharply right again back toward the west sideline to daylight. With only a few Hornets on the back side, Beemer found a lane to the end zone and sped 41 yards to score, making it 12-0 with Maryville's second TD on its last two snaps.
Page 2 of 3 - With the Spoofhounds' exceptional defense having yielded less than 65 yards to that point and the Hornets having entered the game with one starting offensive lineman and one oft-used reserve blocker knocked out by injuries sustained within about five minutes of each other in practice Wednesday, Chillicothe's prospects for springing a big upset looked dim and never improved.
After forcing another penalty by sacking Clampitt at his own 18 on third-and-10, Maryville made it three TDs in three possessions with a 9-plays, 50-yards series. Keyed by a couple of double-digits runs, the 'Hounds got the ball to the CHS 1 before Dredge easily went in off left guard on third-and-goal at the 4:27 mark of the third period. Yet again failing to convert, Maryville nevertheless had a 3-scores lead with barely 18 minutes to go. With a defense which had not yet allowed a point this season, that figured to be more than enough.
Just in case, MHS forced another punt, this time from the Chillicothe 4 after the Hornets' kickoff returner had slipped to the turf there as he fielded the kickoff. In five plays from the CHS 38, Maryville punched in its fourth TD in a row on Beemer's 11-yards run as he again cut back to open space after starting left on a sweep. A disputed 2-points conversion pass from the "swinging gate" formation made it 26-0, Spoofhounds after three periods.
Another CHS 3-and-out bridging the third and fourth quarters was followed by Maryville's fifth-straight scoring possession, this time its only long drive of the game. Beginning with a 44-yards burst by Beemer, who unofficially produced 103 second-half rushing yards in McMahon's stead, It moved 82 yards in nine plays before quarterback Trent Nally scored on a third-down keeper from the 3.
With Marvyille initially substituting at a couple of defensive positions before returning its full starting unit (minus McMahon), Chillicothe's offense finally found its footing.
Beginning at its own 35, Chillicothe used two good running plays to get across midfield. On a fourth-and-5, Clampitt hit Zach Alperin for his only second-half completion which gained yardage, the 8-yards pickup sustaining the drive at the MHS 29.
Three-straight 5-yards runs by Tyler Long got the ball to the MHS 14 before, on the 13th play of the march, Long burst free off left guard and scored with 3:34 left, ending Maryville's season-starting shutout streak at 140 minutes-plus. Alperin's conversion kick set the final score of 32-7.
Statistically, after unofficially being held to only 73 first-half rushing yards and 104 total yards by the inspired Chillicothe defense, Beemer's cutback runs spurred the 'Hounds to nearly 200 ground yards after intermission. Beemer unofficially finished with 109 yards on only nine carries after replacing McMahon, the extent of whose injury was not certain immediately after the game, MHS coach Matt Webb reported.
While Maryville eventually generated about 320 totals yards of offense, Chillicothe settled for about 115 on the ground and a mere 28 in the air. Several balls went off the hands of CHS receivers which thwarted extending drives, but, with the Hornets' interior line lineup shuffled by the mid-week injuries, the Maryville defense often forced Clampitt to throw under pressure from the pocket or abandon it and try to create something on the scramble.
Page 3 of 3 - Chillicothe's next assignment will be to visit unbeaten Cameron on the Dragons' Homecoming next Friday. Cameron went to 3-0 Friday with a surprisingly-dominant 41-14 victory over St. Joseph: Bishop LeBlond, which Maryville will host next Friday.