ST. LOUIS — Fort Osage headed to St. Louis in search of the school’s first football state championship.
By SAM McDOWELL
The Kansas City Star
Instead, the Indians watched the team on the other sideline uncover an identical gem.
Kirkwood held off a second-half push from the Indians and pulled away late for a 31-7 victory Friday to capture the Class 5 state title at Edward Jones Dome. The school’s first state championship came in its third appearance in the past seven years.
“This is pretty terrible,” Fort Osage quarterback Steven McBee said. “This is honestly probably the worst feeling in the world. I’ve gotten so close to these guys. It’s going to be really hard not seeing them anymore.”
Kirkwood led 17-0 at halftime before Fort Osage dominated the third quarter. The Indians, 12-2, cut the margin to 17-7 on Ezra Vaoifi’s two-yard score, capping their first drive into the red zone, which spanned nine plays.
But Kirkwood, 13-0, regained control in the fourth. It put the game out of reach with Jordan Bishop’s third touchdown pass of the night and sealed it with Eric Phillips’ 47-yard interception return.
“It’s a blessing to even come this far,” senior Mamu Tauiatusa said. “I recognize the blessing. I’m very thankful. … I wish we could have ended it differently, but they’re a good team and they played hard.”
Bishop missed his first chance of the game. He connected on his next.
One drive after overthrowing an open Clyde Benson on a go route, Bishop found his top scoring target on a 73-yard bomb to give Kirkwood a 7-0 lead.
Bishop was uncharacteristically off on several throws, but his receivers found enough holes in a typically stout Fort Osage defense that proved unusually susceptible to the big play. Although the Indians held Bishop to only six completions on 15 first-half attempts, those six went for 135 yards.
Fort Osage, 12-2, attempted to match Kirkwood’s fast-and-furious spread offense by opening the game in hurry-up mode, but quarterback Steven McBee couldn’t escape pressure.
McBee was sacked five times and fumbled once. His receivers weren’t of much help, dropping five passes.
“(Kirkwood) had a lot to do with it,” Fort Osage coach Ryan Schartz said. “They decided to bring a lot of pressure. They locked up on us and made us throw it fast and force us into some tough throws.”
Kirkwood put together two first-half scoring drives that totaled 16 plays, eating up the clock and keeping the Fort Osage defense on the field for extended periods of time. Jordan Bishop hit his brother, Jarrod Bishop, on a 7-yard score to extend the lead to 14-0.
Fort Osage managed back-to-back nine-play drives to close out the second quarter, but both ended without points. Facing a fourth-and-8, Indians coach Ryan Schartz elected to attempt a 48-yard field goal on the kicker-friendly turf inside the dome, but Hayden Baumgartner’s attempt fell well short of the goal posts.
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