It was the worst situation a coach could possibly ask for.
Scott City trailed Silver Lake 21-0 late in the first half, its starting quarterback was battling the flu, and its leading rusher was ineffective due to an ankle sprain.
But all this evaporated into thin air when quarterback Brett O’Neil found receiver Drew Kite for an 8-yard touchdown with 47 seconds to play in the fourth quarter to give Scott City a 28-21 win and the 3A state championship, the Beavers first title since wining 4A in 1991.
“The kids just hung in there, waiting for someone to make a play,” Scott City coach Glenn O’Neil said. “We dug ourselves into that hole early and we had the character and the ability to come back and pull it off.”
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It took everything Scott City had to get the win. Brett O’Neil’s teammates found out that he was ill early Saturday morning and didn’t even know if they would have their starting quarterback for the game.
Team doctors were able to get him ready to at least get the start.
“We didn’t know Brett was going to be sick. We woke up at about 6:30 in the motel this morning with Brett puking. So that was kind of a big hit to us,” Scott City linebacker Tyler Hess said. “But Brett’s a tough kid and he came back out there and he really had a great game.”
O’Neil was intercepted three times — he entered the game with only two interceptions on the season — but it was also his play that helped lead the Beavers back into contention.
He was 16 for 29 with 208 yards and two touchdowns, and also had five carries for 31 yards with another touchdown.
“That first half just went by real quick. My stomach was all right so I just kept playing through it,” O’Neil said. “We’ve been fighting all year. We got behind early versus Beloit last week and didn’t give up there. We came back here. Silver Lake is a good team but we battled back strong and got the win.”
Defense helped revive Scott City. Hess intercepted a pass from Silver Lake’s Dailin Kruger late in the third quarter, giving the ball to Scott City at Silver Lake’s 11-yard line.
One play later O’Neil ran it in for the touchdown, cutting Silver Lakes’ lead to 21-14.
The defense kept making plays, and an interception by Scott City’s Brenner Wells with the score tied at 21 in the fourth quarter set up Kite’s game-winning touchdown.
“We couldn’t really operate our total offense with the field position we had,” Silver Lake coach C.J. Hamilton said. “Credit to (Scott City). They made plays. We made plays, too, but just couldn’t get anything going offensively.”
Silver Lake jumped out to the early lead for much the same reason — field position. Two combined punts by Scott City in the first quarter netted only 15 yards, and the Eagles were able to capitalize on the short fields and led 21-7 at halftime.
“It’s nice to win by a little more because it’s not as nerve-racking,” Kite said. “But to win a game like that at the end where you don’t really know which way it’s going to go is still amazing.”
It’s the fourth state championship for Scott City.
|Silver Lake (13-1)||14||7||0||0||—||21|
|Scott City (14-0)||0||7||7||14||—||28|
SL—Pfannenstiel 9 run (Kruger kick)
SL—Kruger 3 run (Kruger kick)
SL—Baird 1 run (Kruger kick)
SC—O’Neil, T., 23 pass from O’Neil, B. (B. O’Neil kick)
SC—O’Neil, B. 11 run (B. O’Neil kick)
SC—Wells 6 run (B. O’Neil kick)
SC—Kite 8 pass from O’Neil, B. (B. O’Neil kick)
Rushing—Silver Lake, Pfannenstiel 21-82, Kruger 13-35, Renfro 2-7, Baird 1-1; Scott City, Brenner 15-42, Kough 8-29, O’Neil, B. 5-31, Buehler 4-12, Banda 2-3, Hess 3-1
Passing—Silver Lake, Kruger 3-10-55-0; Scott City, O’Neil, B. 16-29-208-2, O’Neil, T. 1-1-42-0
Receiving—Silver Lake, Burdiek 2-44, Robinson 1-11; Scott City, Hess 5-119, Kite 4-68, Eggleston 3-6, O’Neil, T. 2-32, Wells 2-21, Kough 1-4