Article written by Brad Matkin
Saturday evening showed people a lot of things when the Fort Scott Greyhounds opened their 2016 football season at home against the #5 nationally ranked Butler Grizzlies; the 'Hounds are much improved from a year ago, the 'Hounds showed an exciting type of offense, and their last place prediction in the conference may be something that should be reconsidered.
For three quarters it looked as if the Greyhounds (0-1 in conference and 0-1 overall) were going to shock the "experts" by upsetting the highly ranked Grizzlies when they led 28-21 late in the third quarter and tied the game up at 35-35 with 8:31 left in the contest. Even after Butler (1-0, 1-0) scored late in the game the home team had a chance when the Grizzlies' placekicker shanked the extra point, but the Greyhounds last drive stalled out ending the game at 41-35.
The Greyhounds scored first on a 1-yard plunge from running back Harry Trotter that capped a 13 play 60 yard drive to give the 'Hounds the early lead and quieted down the charged up Butler crowd; Fort Scott High School stand-out Brody Southwell, who handles the place-kicking duties for Fort Scott booted the PAT to make the score 7-0.
Butler came right back quickly when they scored 47 seconds later when quarterback Easton Bruere threw a 61-yard bomb to wide receiver C.J. Sims to tie the score at 7-7. Sims is a highly touted wide-out from Covington (LA) made spectacular catch after spectacular catch on his way to a game leading 158 receiving yards on 6 catches.
While the visiting sidelines were celebrating, the home side was determined not to lose the momentum marching down the field again on their very next drive going 80 yards on 12 plays to score. Quarterback Nathan Rourke found sophomore wide receiver Sirr Green in the back of the end zone for a 24-yard scoring pass; Southwell again split the uprights making the score 14-7 with 5:14 left in the 1st quarter.
The lead increased to 21-7 with just 27 ticks on the first quarter clock when sophomore defensive end Jordan Robinson scooped up a loose ball and raced down the sideline untouched 65-yards for a touchdown; this fumble was caused by linebacker Dominic Cizauskas.
The game seemed to calm down a little bit after a wild first quarter as the Grizzlies put up the lone score to cut the lead to 21-14 at the half.
Butler came out of their locker room, located at the city pool north of the stadium due to construction at the high school, and proved the long walk uphill was not a problem for them when they took the second half kick-off and drove 58 yards in 11 plays to tie the game up at 21. Quarterback David Isreal scored on a 5-yard keeper to provide the score.
Greyhound's running back Johnnie Hankins got into the scoring fun when he plowed his way in from 2-yards out to put FSCC up again at the 2:46 mark of the third quarter. Hankins, a six foot 190 pound sophomore from South Dade (FL), led his offense with 70 yards on 14 carries.
The Grizzlies scored shortly after the Hankins touchdown with another big play just over a minute later, on a 65-yard run from tailback Kevon Abrams, to knot the score up again at 28-28.
After Butler's defense held the Greyhounds to a punt, Isreal went to work again finding a wide open Josh Wilkes for a 44-yard touchdown pass to take the lead for the first time in the contest.
Isreal, a 6-1 175 pound freshman from South Carolina, proved to the Butler coaching staff that he deserved the starting quarterback job throwing for 209 yard 16 completions. He also rushed for 60 yards.
Fort Scott's quarterback Nathan Rourke was not done yet and made it clear of that when he took the Greyhounds offense down the field the very next drive 75 yards on 8 plays finding wide receiver Ke'Von Love for a 5-yard touchdown tying the score once again at 35-35 with 8:31 left to play in the game.
Rourke, born and raised in Canada until his senior season of high school, proved that he can play at a high level of competition completing 24 of 41 passes for 240 yards and two touchdowns. Rourke, a 6-3 209 pound freshman, can extend plays when the defense think they have him stopped with his elusive style of scrambling making the Butler defense work for everything they got. Rourke gained 40 yards running out of the pocket but was sacked 4 times.
Both defenses locked down the offenses and it looked as if the game might be going into overtime until the Grizzlies mounted a nine play drive that ended in a 6-yard run by running back Isaiah Truss to make the score 41-35 with 1:39 left in the game.
The Greyhounds never really got anything going in their final drive but showed "no-quit" and continue going hard until the final tick went off of the clock.
Freshman Chris Claybrooks led the home team with 7 catches for 89 yards and also returned five kickoffs for 124 yards.
Robinson, a 6-2 257 pound Jefferson City (MO) product recovered two fumbles in the game, and recorded 5 tackles.
Southwell was good on all five of his extra points; he did miss a 53-yard field goal attempt while time ran out in the first out. Note: Southwell booted a FSHS school record 53-yarder last season in a game also Frary Field.
The Greyhounds will look for their first victory of the season next Saturday evening when they travel to Independence (KS) to avenge last season's loss to the Pirates of Independence Community College.
Game time is set for 7:00pm.