Momentum, victory slip away Friday (Sept. 21) amid three lost fumbles after scoring first and leading at halftime in 25-14 defeat in Kansas City
KC: ST. PIUS X 25, CHILLICOTHE 14
Chillicothe 7 7 0 0
St. Pius X 6 6 6 7
By PAUL STURM, C-T Sports Editor
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Having kept host St. Pius X in the game with a pair of lost fumbles in their own territory in the first half, the Chillicothe High School football Hornets, with a 14-12 edge at intermission, still seemed to be on track to gain a psychologically- and mathematically-important road victory Friday.
However, a third lost fumble – this time on the Warriors’ half of the field – gave the home team new belief it could win even with its best player out of action with an unlikely injury and St. Pius X took that belief to the bank with two unanswered touchdowns in the second half that gave it a 25-14 Midland Empire Conference triumph.
The outcome leaves Chillicothe wobbled with a 1-4 midseason record in 2018, while league newcomer St. Pius X advanced to 3-2 overall. CHS now is 1-2 in the conference, SPX 2-1.
Although the game turned on the missed-connection handoff on a simple, third-and-1 running play that ended Chillicothe’s first offensive possession of the second half at the SPX 39, the contest still was salvageable for the Hornets early in the fourth quarter, down 18-14.
However, costing themselves with a 5-yards penalty for lining up offside on offense to change a second-and-6 into second-and-long and not converting, they saw the defense they pinned their hopes on to keep that hope alive falter.
Punting the ball to the Warriors at the SPX 17 in the opening minute of the fourth period, Chillicothe envisioned getting the ball back with at least half a quarter to play, trailing by four, and with enough time to methodically fashion a game-winning march, no matter how far.
Unfortunately, St. Pius X exploited Chillicothe’s weaknesses in defending the pass to complete two passes that advanced the ball nearly to midfield and then, on first-and-10 at the CHS 43, hit on a perfectly-timed tight end “dump” pass down the left hashmark that, with an early missed do-or-die tackle, turned into a touchdown pass from quarterback John Liberto to Thomas Ross. With James Rupp, who has family in Chillicothe, connecting on the extra-point kick, Chillicothe found itself trailing 25-14 with only 7:59 to go.
The Hornets drove the ball about 40 yards to just inside the St. Pius 30 on its ensuing possession, but was stopped inches short of a first down on a fourth-and-1 with only 3:29 to go and the outcome was decided.
Chillicothe seemed to establish a positive omen on the game’s first possession.
After driving nicely from its own 34 to the St. Pius X 23, Chillicothe faced fourth and 17 from the 28 when juniors Jaden Winder at quarterback and Colten Sewell at left end hooked up on a perfectly-executed “fade route” pass to the back left corner of the end zone, CHS’ first touchdown pass of the season. With Jamacin Carr booting the extra point, the Hornets led 7-0.
However, after the CHS defense forced a three-and-out from St. Pius X, which was without start I-back Ben Wade, who sprained an ankle during the previous day’s “walk-through,” according to Warriors head coach Rick Byers, the Hornets sowed the seeds of their own demise.
On their first play of their second series, they fumbled the ball away at their own 37, also seemingly on a mis-timed handoff or fake.
Eight plays later, the Warriors drew within 7-6 on a 3-yards run by fullback Anthony Ross.
On the second CHS snap after the following kickoff, Winder had the ball pulled away by a St. Pius X defender as he was being pulled down on a keeper and the hosts suddenly had the ball again, this time at the Hornets’ 13.
On the first play of the second period, fill-in tailback Thomas Ringel – himself just back from an early-season injury – slashed through a big hole off the right side of the line and pounded into the end zone from 10 yards away. Despite having the very low extra-point kick blocked this time, St. Pius X was ahead, 12-7.
Chillicothe’s response seemed to reclaim the momentum for the Hornets, who marched 61 yards in 12 plays to score on Isaak Rasche’s 5-yards option pitch around left end. Another Carr kick made it 14-12, CHS, with 6:29 remaining in the half, but the Hornets would not score again.
Following the third lost CHS fumble in the middle of the third quarter, what might rate as the fulcrum play of the contest occurred.
After nearly fumbling the ball away in its own territory itself, St. Pius X faced a third-and-24 from its 24, but hit on a middle screen to Ringol, who quickly angled to his right and got to the sideline. By the time Chillicothe chased him down, he had gained the exact 24 yards needed to sustain the possession.
Seven plays later, he scored on a 3-yards runw with 1:54 remaining in the third period, giving the Warriors a lead they’d keep.
7:12 (1) – (CHS) Colten Sewell 28-yards pass from Jaden Winder (Jamacin Carr kick) (12 plays, 66 yards) CHS 7-0
1:09 (1) – (SPX) Anthony Ross 3-yards run (run failed) (7 plays, 37 yards) CHS 7-6
11:54 (2) – (SPX) Thomas Ringol 10-yards run (kick blocked) (2 plays, 1 3 yards) SPX 12-7
6:29 (2) – (CHS) Isaak Rasche 5-yards run (Carr kick) (12 plays, 60 yards) CHS 14-12
1:54 (3) – (SPX) Ringol 3-yards run (run failed) (10 plays, 62 yards) SPX 18-14
7:59 (4) – (SPX) Andrew Klepper 43-yards pass from John Liberto (James Rupp kick) (8 plays, 82 yards) SPX 25-14
(CHS) Cade Koehly 12 carries for 68 yards, Kam Ward 8-61, Dawson Wheeler 7-33, Isaak Rasche 7-31 (1 TD), Jaden Winder 5-13, Lavery Jones 3-(-1). [TOTAL 42-195 (1)] (SPX) Thomas Ringol 22-171 (2), Anthony Ross 8-18, Jack Mosh 1-4, John Liberto 5-(-4). [TOTAL 36-189 (3)]
(CHS) Winder 4 comp. in 7 attempts, 42 yards (1 TD/0 int.). (SPX) Liberto 9-11, 131 (1/0)
(CHS) Colten Sewell 2 receptions for 32 yards (1 TD), Brad Hayen 2-10. [TOTAL 4-42 (1)] (SPX) Ringol 5-53, Andrew Klepper 1-43 (1), David Deters 1-18, Thomas Ross 1-17. [TOTAL 9-131 (1)]
CHILLICOTHE TACKLES (solos)
Wheeler 10 (7), Hayden Hill 6 (4), K. Ward 5 (5), Hayen 4 (4), Brock Ward 4 (3), Jones 4 (3), Rasche 3 (3), Matt Callen 3 (2), Donald McCracken 3 (2), Sewell 2 (2), Isaac Washburn 2 (1), Koehly 1 (1), Gott 1.
TACKLES FOR LOSSES (incl. QB sacks)
Chillicothe 3 for -1 yards; St. Pius X 6 for-10 yards.
Chillicothe 3 (3). (SPX) 2 (0).
OPPONENT’S FUMBLES RECOVERED
(SPX) Ross, A.J. Calcara, Deters [TOTAL 3].
(CHS) K. Ward 4-49, Sewell 1-8 [TOTAL 5-57]. (SPX) Deters 2-28, Klepper 1-17. [TOTAL 3-45]
(CHS) K. Ward 1-4, Rasche 1-2. [TOTAL 2-6].
(CHS) Winder 2-73. (SPX) Mosh 2-60.
Chillicothe 4 for 25 yards; St. Pius X 4-25.
Chillicothe 14 (1 passing, 11 rushing, 2 penalty); St. Pius X 14 (5 passing, 9 rushing)