When Skylar Thompson, spinning away from Staley pressure, saw Willie Penamon with a step on his defender, Thompson knew all he had to do was get the ball in the air and let Penamon run underneath it.
Thompson, Fort Osage’s junior quarterback, took it a step further. He gathered himself and unleashed a long, arcing pass that fell gently into Penamon’s arms and turned into a 79-yard touchdown with 2:33 to play, giving the Indians a 24-20 win over rival Staley on Friday night.
“Willie was my first read, but he wasn’t there at first so I went to my backside concept,” Thompson said. “Then things broke down, and I saw he had a step and I just tried to give him a chance and he went a made a play.”
The touchdown was the fourth consecutive score on which the lead to change hands. Staley’s Beau Baker had given the Falcons, 3-2, a 20-17 lead on a 1-yard run with 8:06 to play.
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“We have ourselves chances to win this game,” Staley coach Fred Bouchard said. “We felt like we had a good defensive game plan, and we don’t think we failed in that. We should have scored some more points offensively. We put ourselves in position to win, we just have to finish.”
Staley was in good position to ice the game when, up three points, Ryan Dorian intercepted Thompson’s screen pass and returned it to the Fort Osage 19 with 4:26 to play.
But the Indians stopped the dangerous Kahluna Bouchard twice and forced two straight incompletions to take over at its own 15 with 3:31 remaining.
Three plays later, on third down, Thompson and Penamon hooked up for the game-winner.
Thompson, under pressure most of the night from a quick, physical Staley defense, completed 27 of 40 passes for 367 yards and three touchdowns to three different receivers. He threw for 229 yards in the first half alone.
“He’s got real good feet and a good pocket presence,” Fort Osage coach Ryan Schartz said of Thompson. “The pocket collapsed on him tonight … this is the first time people have gotten to him and hit him, but he was still able to go out on that last play and make a big play. That’s the sign of a mature quarterback.”
Fort Osage, a state quarterfinalist a year ago, has now topped three state-ranked opponents in the season’s first five weeks, including a four-point win over Blue Springs and a three-point win against Lee’s Summit.
“Winning these close games can do a lot for a team,” Schartz said. “You can’t simulate that kind of pressure in practice, and to come away from it with a win is big.”