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Solid First Half Not Enough for Chillicothe (Mo.) HS Gridders’ First ’20 Win

Trailing Savannah only 7-0 at halftime, CHS Hornets mauled rest of way in 37-8 loss Friday, Oct. 9

Paul Sturm
Chillicothe News
Chillicothe (Mo.) HS football Hornets senior lineman Trey Tipton gets great, quick penetration to drop Savannah slotback Truman Bodenhausen for a 5-yards loss on a third-and-1 “jet sweep” late in the second quarter of Friday’s (Oct. 9, 2020) 37-8 Savannah victory in Chillicothe. ( C-T Photo / Butch Shaffer )

By PAUL STURM, C-T Sports Editor

CHILLICOTHE, Mo. — For a half Friday (Oct. 9), the 2020 Chillicothe (Mo.) HS football Hornets inspired glimmers of hope that they might spring a surprise and register their first win of the season for a home crowd. Only two plays into the third quarter, however, guest Savannah emphasized that the second half of the Midland Empire Conference contest would not much resemble the first.

Limited to a 7-0 intermission advantage by the winless Hornets (0-7, 0-5 conf.), SHS’ Savages popped star running back Ethan Yount through a seam off right guard and all the way to the CHS end zone 57 yards distant 43 ticks into the second half, doubling – with the extra-point kick – its lead just that rapidly.

After unofficially out-gaining Chillicothe 180-50 in opening-half yardage, the Savages (4-1, 3-0 conf.) dominated the last 24 minutes by about a 280-110 spread as they barreled back home 37-8 winners.

CHS’ Hornets will play their last regular-season home game, but – despite their current “oh-fer” status – not necessarily their final 2020 contest on Bob Fairchild Field, next Friday when Kansas City: East (2-5) pays a call. If CHS wins both of its remaining regular-season games – no certainty, but also not an outlandish proposition, it almost certainly would vault into the fourth seeding among the seven teams in Class 3 District 8 and earn the right to begin the district playoffs at home.

To make that possibility a reality, Chillicothe will need to put together something much closer to four good quarters of play within the same game than it has managed to thus far this fall.

While the Hornets have been representative or competitive with each of their seven conquerors to date during either the opening or closing half, except for the week two loss at Kirksville, all that has been at the end of each game night is a consolation prize because of the clear-cut dominance of the opposition in the other half.

Against Savannah – with Kansas City: St. Pius X one of two conference teams without a MEC loss to date, the Hornets made a couple of defensive stops in its own territory – one in the “red zone” – on the Savages’ first and last series of the first half to be in contention as they went to the locker room.

With the Savannah Savages trying to make a quick scoring drive in the final two minutes of the first half of Friday’s (Oct. 9, 2020) high school football game in Chillicothe, CHS Hornets junior Gage Leamer – his own team’s quarterback – blitzes from his linebacker post on defense to sack SHS quarterback Ethan Dudeck for a 6-yards loss on a third-and-11 play. Chillicothe’s second sack in a row led by time running out, keeping the score at 7-0, Savannah. The Savages eventually won 37-8. ( C-T Photo / Butch Shaffer )

Yount’s gallop to paydirt in the first minute of the third quarter was followed by SHS TDs on its next two possessions. With Yount, who unofficially finished with about 280 rushing yards and three scores on 19 carries, bolting 49 yards for a score and lanky end Dalton Howard easily snaring an “alley-oop” pass over diminutive Hornets cornerback Tucker Wagers on a “jump ball” play for an 11-yards score, the Savages multiplied their lead to 28-0 with just over three minutes to play in the third stanza.

The only offensive bright spot of the night for Chillicothe came after Savannah quarterback Ethan Dudeck’s 1-yard scoring sneak technically put the “running clock” rule into effect not quite 90 seconds into the last period.

Starting the ensuing possession from their own 24, the Hornets suddenly reeled off four rushing gains of nine or more yards in the first seven snaps of the possession after having generated only about 80 yards of total offense through the first three quarters.

Finally, keyed by a nifty scrambling completion from junior quarterback Gage Leamer to sophomore end Max Wagers that put the ball at the Savannah 2-yard line, Leamer sneaked into the end zone with 3:11 remaining. That completed the 12-plays, 76-yards march that averted the shutout.

Senior slotback Tucker Wagers of the Chillicothe (Mo.) HS football Hornets is wide open to receive a well-aimed Gage Leamer pass and gain 15 yards on a well-executed, third-and-4 “wheel route” play on the opening possession of Friday’s (Oct. 9, 2020) CHS home game against Savannah. Winless Chillicothe did not manage to score, however, until the final minutes of a 37-8 loss which dropped them to 0-7 overall. ( C-T Photo / Butch Shaffer )

Inside the game’s last 30 seconds, after a SHS punt had rolled to a stop just outside the CHS goal line, the Savages’ starting defense managed to get credit for a safety against Chillicothe offensive reserves on a third-down play to post the game’s last two points.