CHS led 14-0 four minutes into game, but wound up holding on against error-prone St. Joseph: Lafayette
By PAUL STURM, Constitution-Tribune Sports Editor
CHILLICOTHE, Mo. — Less than four minutes into their week five home game with the St. Joseph: Lafayette Fighting Irish Friday, the Chillicothe High School football Hornets seemed to have an easy win in the offing.
It turned out to be anything but easy.
Although they never trailed after Cade Snyder’s early 45-yards touchdown strike to Mason Hayward and defensive tackle Walker Graves’ 13-yards fumble recovery return less than two minutes laster, the Hornets couldn’t exhale until a desperation final play of the game by the Irish went awry and finalized a 23-15 Chillicothe victory.
"We got enough breaks in the game to win it, but it definitely wasn't easy," Phil Willard, CHS head coach, acknowledged, referencing his team’s 5-0 advantage in the turnovers category.
Up 14-3 at halftime, Chillicothe saw it become a 1-score game in the middle of the third period when Lafayette backup quarterback Gavin Brown, looking good in his first start in place of injured Riley McKay, threw 14 yards to PJ Hawkins to make it 14-9.
The Irish held CHS on its next possession and, with a chance to move in front, advanced the ball as far as the Hornets’ 33 before turning it over on downs late in the third stanza.
Keyed by Snyder’s alert 9-yards scramble enabled by Hayward’s block, Chillicothe responded to its reprieve with a 9-plays, 61-yards scoring march.
Senior fullback Kyle Ross had carries on the last five snaps of the trek, gaining six, 14, seven, 11, and 11 yards to put the ball in the end zone. The TD run saw him break off a run designed to go off left guard to the outside and win the race to the pylon with 10:27 left. With Jack Willard’s extra-point kick, it was 20-9, Hornets.
After a Hayward inteception and a CHS punt, Lafayette was pinned inside its 5-yard line. Facing fourth and 3 from its own 13 with still more than half the fourth quarter remaining, the Irish gambled and lost when a fourth-down pass was incomplete. Chillicothe’s Wagner Chapman kicked a 27-yard field goal a few plays later to make it 23-9 with 4:09 to go.
Chillicothe wasn’t home free, however, as on the first play after the kickoff, Brown gunned a deep strike to Dae’mon Stone-May for a 73-yards touchdown with 3:50 still left. Lafayette’s conversion kick hit the right upright, however, leaving it within one score, but only in position to tie.
The Hornets converted on fourth-and-inches on their next series, letting them kill extra time before punting the ball back to the Irish in the last minute.
Lafayette saw one “hook-and-ladder” pass completion limited to an 8-yards pickup and kept in-bounds. After an incompletion stopped the clock, but made it fourth-and-short with only a few seconds remaining, another “hook-and-ladder” was attempted, but the lateral after the short completion got away and Chillicothe covered it for its fourth fumble recovery of the night and fifth takeaway.
Statistically, Chillicothe won despite being out-gained 268-211. Lafayette had the larger yardage amount despite having minus-10 yards on the ground and the five giveaways. The Hornets did not have any turnovers.
The win boosts the Hornets’ 2015 record to 5-1 with now a 3-1 mark in Midland Empire Conference play. Lafayette slipped to 1-5 overall and 1-3 in the conference.
Chillicothe visits Savannah next Friday for another MEC outing.