Mid-game Errors, Late Rally Bid’s Failure Drops Chillicothe (Mo.) Football Hornets to .500

Ahead 28-14 late in first half, CHS yields 21 unanswered points to St. Joseph: Lafayette in Homecoming 2021 35-34 Defeat Friday, Oct. 1

Paul Sturm
Chillicothe News
Junior fullback Cayden Potter of the 2021 Chillicothe High School football Hornets stretches the ball across the St. Joseph: Lafayette goal line to complete a 2-yards touchdown run late in the fourth quarter of CHS' Homecoming game at Jerry Litton Memorial Stadium II Friday, Oct. 1. Trailing by a point after the TD, Chillicothe tried a similar inside run with Potter for a 2-points conversion, but it failed, and Lafayette held on to win, 35-34.

By PAUL STURM, C-T Sports Editor

Chillicothe (Mo.) High School’s football Hornets generated a good number of positive plays and moments in their 2021 Homecoming clash with St. Joseph: Lafayette Friday (Oct. 1). In the end, though, the bad outweighed the good.

Having jumped ahead 14-0 nine minutes into the contest and still in front by 14 points within two minutes of halftime, the Hornets squandered their advantage with a series of critical mistakes and, despite a stirring fourth-quarter touchdown drive that offered a chance of victory, sustained a 35-34 setback on Bob Fairchild Field at Jerry Litton Memorial Stadium II.

Their 28-14 lead approaching intermission having suddenly been flipped, as a result of turnovers, to a 35-28 deficit in less than five minutes of mid-game playing time, the Hornets drove the ball 68 yards in eight plays, beginning in the middle of the fourth quarter, to pull within a point on Cayden Potter’s 2-yards run up the middle with 2:16 left in regulation time.

Not surprisingly, given the potency of the Jaron Saunders-led Lafayette offense, CHS first-year head coach Chad Smith opted to have the offense he oversees convert for two points after Potter’s plunge, hoping to force Lafayette to have to play aggressively on its subsequent series, due to trailing by a point.

However, on the conversion play after taking a valuable timeout it could have used to great benefit later, Potter repeated his 2-yards gain, but instead of that putting the ball in the end zone and putting CHS back on top, this time it left him a yard shy of the goal line, meaning the Fighting Irish’s thin lead still existed.

Although Chillicothe’s defense came up with a stop on downs on the LHS possession and the offense returned to the artificial turf at the CHS 43 with 55 seconds left, the Hornets advanced the ball only 12 yards before time ran out, relegating them to a 3-3 overall record and 1-3 mark in the Midland Empire Conference. The win lifted the Lafayette marks to 5-1 overall and a 3-0 MEC mark, a half-game behind Kansas City: St. Pius X.

Max Wagers, junior end for the 2021 Chillicothe High School football Hornets, prepares to catcch a Gage Leamer pass for a 35-yards gain to the St. Joseph: Lafayette 30-yard line during a fourth-quarter drive Friday, Oct. 1. CHS went on to score a touchdown on the possession with a couple of minutes left in its Homecoming game at Jerry Litton Memorial Stadium II, but ended up with a 35-34 defeat.

Chillicothe generally moved the ball well most of the game and had three short scoring runs by fullback Potter, Brock Miller’s 2-yard touchdown carry, and Corbin Rodenberg’s 59-yards second-quarter burst, but was undone by a flurry of critical errors on either side of intermission.

After a LHS touchdown with 1:19 on the second-period clock made it 28-20, a CHS fumble on a run on the first play of its ensuing possession which led to the Fighting Irish tying the game at halftime with a second touchdown of the last 80 seconds.

A Hornet then muffed (fumbled) reception of the second-half-starting kickoff with Lafayette recovering at the CHS 36. Eight plays later, Irish quarterback Saunders threw his fourth touchdown pass of the game and the visitors had their third TD in less than five minutes and a 35-28 advantage. While the CHS defense blanked them the rest of the night, the offense lost the ball on a fumble inside the Irish 15 later in the third quarter and was stopped on downs at the LHS 1 early in the fourth to undermine the Hornets’ ultimately-unsuccessful comeback bid.  

Following the game, seniors Emily O'Dell and Braxten Johnson were announced as 2021 CHS Homecoming queen and king, respectively.

Emily O'Dell and Braxten Johnson were voted Chillicothe High School's 2021 Homecoming queen and king, it was announced in royalty ceremonies conducted following the football Hornets' game Friday, Oct. 1.

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Chillicothe goes to Savannah next Friday, needing to rejuvenate its season and build postseason momentum with a strong finish after three losses in its past four outings.