North Kansas City came into Friday night’s showdown with Fort Osage in search of a statement victory, despite winning its first three games of the season.
The Hornets left two fistfuls of opportunities on the field. There were six turnovers, touchdowns called back, penalties galore and a double-digit deficit to claw back from.
North Kansas City was fazed by none of it.
Junior quarterback Seth Mattly found Brandon Hall for a 30-yard touchdown with 33.5 seconds to play, providing the winning margin in a thrilling (and penalty-marred) 19-18 victory for North Kansas City at Fort Osage’s sparkling new football complex.
The Hornets (4-0) went crazy at the final whistle. It was obvious the victory meant a lot, and Hornets coach Leon Douglas didn’t mince words.
“It’s the biggest win I’ve ever been a part of here. I mean, this is big. You’re talking about a program, I’d imagine they were at least top five. There’s been many a day our season has ended right here on this field,” Douglas said. “This is big. We’ve got all the respect in the world for this program. We understand where they fit in the landscape of everything as far as our conference. But this is big for everything. I told the kids today, they’re responsible for it. And they took control over it from there.”
Fort Osage (2-2) took the lead thanks to two big plays: Brandon Gregory Jr.’s 64-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, and Dominic Myers’ 97-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter to give the Indians a 12-0 lead.
North Kansas City’s night on offense, up to that point, had been a study in frustration and a wasteland of missed opportunities.
There were three lost fumbles and an interception. Hornet senior Clyde Price lost one touchdown reception to a penalty. Another would-be touchdown reception went wanting when Price, alone behind the defense, simply dropped another scoring pass.
Price, the workhorse of the Hornet offense, didn’t let that stop him from breaking out in the fourth quarter. His 54-yard scamper in the first minute of the fourth quarter capped off a 99-yard drive and got North Kansas City back into the game.
The Hornets recovered the ensuing onside kick, and Price went back to work. This time he broke multiple tackles en route to a 31-yard score that gave North Kansas City a 13-12 lead. Price finished with over 250 rushing yards on more than 40 carries.
North Kansas City got one final drive to take the lead. Price got the drive going with a reception. He proved to be a handy decoy on Hall’s touchdown catch. The Indians defense had to respect Price on the play-action pass, leaving Hall matched up one-on-one.
Hall came down with the ball, and the victory.
“We just kept fighting man. We could’ve tucked tail a long time ago. However many turnovers we had, guys kept fighting, kept believing, and that’s what this is about,” Douglas said.