(Recast Monday, Sept. 30, with additional quotes, photos, full stats) Quarterback Jaden Winder's 1-yard run in final 10 seconds pulls out day-late, 21-17 league, Homecoming triumph over KC: St. Pius X Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019
CHILLICOTHE, Mo. — The final whistles of both halves of the Chillicothe High School football Hornets’ Homecoming game Saturday sounded at just the right time for the home team. However, it might have been a whistle that tweeted too soon early in the game which might have been the difference between a disappointing defeat and the 21-17 triumph the Hornets ultimately claimed over Kansas City: St. Pius X.
Playing at midday Saturday, due to thunderstorms – mainly lightning – which arrived five minutes before game time the night before, the Hornets almost – but not quite – came up a few yards and seconds short of their fourth victory of the year.
Their Midland Empire Conference clash landed in their “wins” column when senior quarterback Jaden Winder finished a 13-plays, 4-1/2 minutes, 67-yards drive with a 1-yard touchdown keeper off left tackle with nine seconds remaining.
That erased a lead SPX had taken with 4:50 to go on a 23-yards Dominic Bjork field goal in the aftermath of a CHS fumble inside its own 25.
“Our players did a great job executing and finishing the drive,” relieved Hornets head coach Tim Rulo commented after his club advanced its overall record to 4-1 and its MEC mark to 2-1.
“Winning your Homecoming game, especially your senior year, is a big deal. I’m so proud of these guys for sticking it out and taking care of it.”
The winning touchdown – on a fourth-and-goal snap in the closing seconds of the second half – largely mirrored the conclusion of the first half.
As the final second of the second period disappeared from the Jerry Litton Memorial Stadium II scoreboard, on the 14th play of an 85-yards Chillicothe march that commenced with 4:59 to go, senior wingback Isaak Rasche wisely turned a pitchout play to the right side back toward the middle of Bob Fairchild Field, knifing into the end zone from three yards away.
When Dawson Wheeler barreled across the goal line on the conversion attempt, Chillicothe headed to its locker room thankfully tied 14-14 after a nearly-disastrous start.
Perhaps owing to the unusual game time or the distractions of other Homecoming-related activities looming later that evening, Chillicothe concocted a nearly-toxic mix of mental, physical, and strategic errors to put and keep themselves “behind the eight ball” against a young, less-experienced team which nevertheless played with far more discipline and alertness.
In a distressing flashback to a 2014 loss at St. Joseph: Lafayette, in which failure to catch or fall on multiple short Irish kickoffs in a row allowed Lafayette to post three touchdowns in 94 seconds without the CHS offense ever getting on the field, this year’s CHS kickoff return unit failed to react to and take possession of short St. Pius X kickoffs into the wind twice in the first two minutes of Saturday’s contest.
The visiting Warriors recovered the game’s opening kick at the CHS 22 and, six plays later, scored the game’s first seven points.
The same thing then happened on the ensuing kickoff, but a would-be SPX recovery at the Hornets’ 21 was negated when the referee, thinking a player in an initial scramble for the ball had secured possession, blew his whistle. When he then saw the ball still was loose, even though a Warrior eventually fell on it, his prior “inadvertant whistle” – when neither team actually was in possession – meant the play was dead and the kickoff would be redone.
Reprieved from the potential nightmare scenario which might have left them behind 14-0 before its offense – despite CHS winning the pre-game coin flip – took its first snap, Chillicothe caught the re-kick on the fly and, with a short return, belatedly sent its offensive unit onto the field with the ball at the CHS 28.
Eighteen plays later, two snaps after a post-whistle personal foul penalty on the Hornets turned what would have been a third-and-5 from the SPX 10 into a third-and-20 dilemma and one play after a potential touchdown pass was dropped deep in the end zone, Winder rolled out to his right on fourth-and-20 and – on the move – fired a perfect strike, like the aspiring college baseball pitcher he is, to classmate Brad Hayen about seven yards deep in the SPX end zone with 1:36 left in the first quarter.
Hayen’s third scoring catch of the season and second in as many weeks on a fourth-down pass on CHS’ opening offensive series put the Hornets within a point, but they stayed there when the conversion kick was wide right.
A late Chillicothe hit on the return of the short, subsequent kickoff set the visiting Warriors up at the CHS 43 and, nine plays later, a 4-yards touchdown pass from Jack Mosh to Robbie Sharp – who had scored the first St. Pius X touchdown on a 3-yards run – put the Kansas City team ahead 14-6 at the 10:05 mark of the second stanza after the conversion kick.
Neither club scored on its next possession before Chillicothe took over deep in its own end with one tick under five minutes remaining in half No. 1.
The Hornets’ series might have expired fairly quickly, but – in a key break – a long pass into the wind on a third-and-6 play from the CHS 30 predictably came up short of intended receiver Kam Ward. However, landing atop the shoulder pad of a SPX defensive back, it bounced forward into the air. As he started to fall, K. Ward reached out and clutched it for an unlikely 40-yards pickup.
Even though they immediately followed that with a holding penalty in pass protection that set them back 15 yards to the SPX 45 – one of four holding calls and eight major penalties CHS was called for on the day, compared to one SPX offsides flag, the Hornets sustained the drive.
Eventually, the Hornets got Rasche around the right side on a toss sweep for the 3-yards touchdown run after calling its last timeout with two seconds to go. The senior’s second rushing score of the season and Wheeler’s 2-points run allowed the Hornets to escape the half even, despite their misfortunes and mistakes.
The change of halves slowed, but didn’t eliminate Chillicothe errors.
A second roughing-the-kicker personal foul on a punt in as many games cost the home team what would have been excellent field position at the St. Pius X 40 early in the third quarter.
Then, in the middle of the final period with the score still tied, Chillicothe held on downs, taking over at its 23 with 6:54 remaining. With plenty of time for a scoring drive that would put the foe under the gun late, instead the Hornets again shot themselves in the foot, fumbling the ball away at their own 22 on a botched option pitchout on the very first snap.
Sharp – subbing at quarterback for starter Jack Mosh, who had been hurt during the previous possession – scrambled for 15 yards to the Hornets’ 7 on the Warriors’ first play after the takeaway. The CHS defense allowed only two yards on the next two running plays before Mosh, after a timeout, dramatically returned for a third-and-goal pass call.
With good CHS coverage on the initial left-side slant route St. Pius X wanted to throw, Mosh had to roll out to his right. Rushed by pursuing senior CHS lineman Isaac Washburn, he tried to thread the needle with a pass through several Chillicothe defenders, but the ball was easily knocked down by sophomore linebacker Brock Ward. Even that good play had its downside, however, as – unbeknown to B. Ward – Colten Sewell was right behind him in the ball’s path, likely to make an interception that would have ended the Warriors’ possession.
Instead, with fourth and goal from the 5, the KC club sent in Bjork, who knocked the field goal through for a 17-14 advantage with 4:50 left.
In the do-or-lose situation, Chillicothe’s offense answered the call, helped by Rasche’s 20-yards return of the kickoff to the CHS 33.
The 210-pounds Winder followed his fullback off right tackle on the first play and picked up 14 yards, putting Chillicothe virtually at midfield and igniting immediate confidence in the unit.
Even as time drained off the clock with seemingly-increasing rapidity, three Hornets runs again moved the yardsticks to the opponent’s 42. On a third-and-3 from the 35, Winder lumbered around the left side for 11 yards and another first down with still about two minutes left.
Staying with a good thing on the option keeper with the senior quarterback, good initial blocking and determined running produced pickups of six and nine yards, spotting the ball just inside the St. Pius X 10 with 1:15 left.
Taking their first timeout of the half then, the Hornets covered half of the needed yards with two more Winder runs before utilizing their second stoppage with 29 ticks left on the clock.
In the timeout visit, Rulo set the third-down play call, but also advised his players that, if it did not produce the touchdown, to quickly reset the formation for a fourth-down play, rather than loiter, awaiting a timeout call from him.
“Once the result of the play got us to the 1-yard line, I felt comfortable letting our line and quarterback make the call for the quarterback sneak, instead of using the timeout,” Rulo related afterward, understanding eschewing the timeout prevented St. Pius X from resting and resetting its defense.
The third-down run was a dive play with fullback Isaih Kille, who, with a squirming twist at the end, got the ball to the 1 Once he was down, the Chillicothe players rapidly set up for the fourth-and-1 play even as nearly every onlooker – and likely the opponent – awaited the presumed inevitable timeout before the ball was snapped.
However, with the coach’s prior blessing, when Winder surveyed the St. Pius defense and saw the setup he anticipated, he used a short snap count that gave his offensive linemen a quick-surge advantage and ran the play without a timeout. As SPX’s linemen and linebackers surged toward the middle of the formation, anticipating a straight-ahead sneak by Winder, the quarterback – sensing that – opted to instead slant to his left toward the end of the formation. As left guard Brock Gott and tackle Landon Swift “blocked down” (to the middle) and left wingback Isaak Rasche sealed off the pursuit angle of any linebackers or safeties, Winder – taking an initial step backward to avoid the big pile, easily got to the corner of the formation and strode easily over the goal line for the winning touchdown with nine seconds remaining.
“Jaden and I have discussed the idea that, if the middle is clogged up on (a) sneak (call), he has the option to push it outside,” Rulo tells the C-T. “… He saw that it was clogged up and decided to take it more to the left.”
While not ascribing the ultra-close call all to the weather-Homecoming combination, the CHS head coach did concede the unexpected scenario was “just an odd situation.”
Statistically, neither side’s offense was particularly proficient. Chillicothe, averaging over 290 rushing yards and 370 total yards through four games, managed only 230 on the turf and 295 total in the contest. St. Pius X, cashing in on short fields for all three of its scores, nearly won despite only 77 rushing yards and 203 total. The Hornets sacked Mosh three times – one apiece by Washburn, McCracken, and sophomore Damarcus Kelow.
With seven major penalties and eight total enforced infractions for 90 yards, the Hornets now have just over 350 penalty yards on 39 flags through five games. They’ve been penalized at least five times for at least 50 yards in each game thus far.
Individually, with his heavy lifting late, Winder led all ballcarriers with 87 yards on 18 attempts. In addition to getting his eighth rushing touchdown of the year, he moved just past 340 ground yards on the season, second on the team to Wheeler’s 404.
K. Ward had exactly 100 yards from scrimmage (60 rushing and 40 receiving). Hayen’s catch of Winder’s fourth TD throw of the year gives him scores on three of his seven receptions thus far. He also takes over the team’s receiving yardage lead with 128, one more than Sewell.
CHILLICOTHE 21, KC: ST. PIUS X 17
KC: St. Pius X 7 7 0 3 – 17
Chillicothe 6 8 0 7 – 21
9:42 (1) – (SPX) Robbie Sharp 3-yards run (Dominic Bjork kick) (6 plays, 22 yards) SPX 7-0
1:36 (1) – (CHS) Brad Hayen 25-yards pass from Jaden Winder (Jamacin Carr kick failed-wide right) (18 plays, 72 yards) SPX 7-6
10:05 (2) – (SPX) Sharp 4-yards pass from Jack Mosh (Bjork kick) (9 plays, 43 yards) SPX 14-6
:00 (2) – (CHS) Isaak Rasche 3-yards run (Dawson Wheeler run) (14 plays, 85 yards) Tied 14-14
4:50 (4) – (SPX) Bjork 23-yards field goal (5 plays, 16 yards) SPX 17-14
:09 (4) – (CHS) Winder 1-yard run (Carr kick) (13 plays, 67 yards) CHS 21-17
INDIVIDUAL, TEAM STATISTICS
(CHS) Jaden Winder 18 carries for 87 yards (1 TD), Kam Ward 11-60, Dawson Wheeler 9-43, Isaak Rasche 6-22 (1), Isaih Kille 5-18, Brock Gott 1-2, Colten Sewell 1-0, Deon Reynolds 1-(-2). [TOTAL 52-230 (2)] (SPX) Jack Mosh 13-49, Robbie Sharp 9-20 (1), John Caime 1-0, Anthony Ross 5-0. [TOTAL 28-77 (1)]
(CHS) Winder 2 comp. in 7 attempts, 65 yards (1 TD/0 int.). (SPX) Mosh 14-21, 116 (1/0), Sharp 2-2, 10 (0/0). [TOTAL 16-23, 126 (1/0)]
(CHS) K. Ward 1 reception for 40 yards, Brad Hayen 1-25 (1 TD). [TOTAL 2-65 (1)] (SPX) Sharp 6-54 (1), David Deters 6-44, Caime 4-28. [TOTAL 16-126 (1)]
CHILLICOTHE TACKLES (solos)
Wheeler 10 (5), Brock Ward 7 (6), Sewell 7 (5), Isaac Washburn 6 (3), Hayden Hill 4 (3), Braxten Johnson 4 (2), Donald McCracken 3 (3), K. Ward 3 (2), Damarcus Kelow 2 (1), Hayen 2 (1), Brock Gott 2, Joseph Tullos 1 (1), Kille 1 (1), Luke Hopper 1.
(CHS) 3 (Kelow (2nd), Washburn (1st), McCracken (2nd).
TACKLES FOR LOSSES (incl. QB sacks)
Chillicothe 6 for -23 yards (Washburn 2, Wheeler, Kelow, McCracken, Kille); St. Pius X 3 for -6 yards.
Chillicothe 3 (2). St. Pius X 4 (2).
OPPONENT’S FUMBLES RECOVERED
(CHS) Hill (1st), Wheeler (1st). [TOTAL 2] (SPX) Nick Palmentere, Deters. [TOTAL 2].
(CHS) Rasche 2-39, Sewell 1-12, D. Reynolds 1-0. [TOTAL 4-51]. (SPX) Dominic Bjork 1-14, Sharp 1-7, Carl Ragusa 1-1. [TOTAL 3-22]
(CHS) Rasche 1-(-1).
(CHS) Winder 1-50. (SPX) Mosh 1-36.
(SPX) Bjork 1-1 (23 yards).
Chillicothe 8 for 90 yards; St. Pius X 1-5.
Chillicothe 15 (2 passing, 13 rushing); St. Pius X (7 passing, 7 rushing, 1 penalty)