There are times when football is the simplest of games – one team makes more big plays than the other, that team usually wins.
Case in point: Friday night in G.M. Tennant Stadium.
Chase had a handful of dynamic plays, Polk County did not and the Trojans claimed a 31-13 victory in a Mountain Foothills 7 Conference clash that also served as the Wolverines’ regular-season home finale.
Though the loss effectively eliminated the Wolverines (4-3, 2-2) from the conference title race and likely moved either of the MF7’s two automatic 2A playoff berths out of reach, all is not lost for Polk County. The Wolverines should easily claim a 2A wild card berth and may even still be in the running for a home playoff game, though that hope took a bit of a hit Friday as well.
It was those points that served as the basis for head coach Bruce Ollis’ postgame speech.
“We’ve got a good football team, and we should still have a playoff spot,” Ollis said. “We battled, we played hard. They’ve got a great football team.”
Chase junior running back Marqies McCombs, the state’s leading rusher, has dominated talk about the Trojans this season and for good reason. McCombs finished Friday’s game with 233 yards rushing and two touchdowns, but at one point late in the third period he had just 35 yards on 14 carries and hadn’t done much to hurt the Wolverines.
His teammates, though, had:
- Tavion Derisma returned the opening kickoff 81 yards to the Polk 9, setting up Caleb Lawson’s 33-yard field goal that gave the Trojans an early 3-0 lead
- After Polk took a 7-3 lead with 3:09 left in the first half on Casey Beiler’s 1-yard sneak, Chase quarterback Damian Boykins directed a near-perfect scoring drive. Boykins was 6-of-7 for 70 yards, ending the march with a 15-yard touchdown toss to Logan Houser with 18 seconds left in the half.
- A bobbled snap disrupted the timing on Polk’s second play of the third quarter, allowing Derisma to pick off a short Beiler pass and return it 40 yards for a score. Lawson’s extra point made it 17-7 at the 11:10 mark of the third period, meaning Chase scored two touchdowns in a 68-second flurry spanning the second and third quarters.
And then McCombs joined the party. He had 198 yards on his final 13 attempts, all those in the final 17 minutes of the game, with touchdowns runs of 2 and 86 yards. The first came with 2:36 left in the third period and gave Chase a 24-13 lead. The latter came with 4:34 left in the game and sealed the outcome.
“We did a pretty good job on (McCombs),” Ollis said. “He showed his perserverance and hung in there, and once he had the opportunity to make some big plays, he did.”
The Trojans (7-1, 2-1) grabbed that early 3-0 advantage, but Polk finally broke a first half of back-and-forth punts with a 60-yard touchdown drive late in the second period. Beiler hit 4-of-4 passes for 47 yards on the drive, including a key 16-yard third-down toss to Antonio Simpson, before ending the march with his 1-yard touchdown plunge. Isaac Hernandez added the point after to make it 7-3.
Boykins answered with his end-of-quarter heroics, giving Chase a 10-7 lead at the break, before Derisma’s pick six upped that gap to 17-7.
“A kickoff return to set up a field goal and a pick-six. We had an inauspicious start to the beginning of the game and the beginning of the second half,” Ollis said.
The Wolverines did keep pace following Derisma’s interception as Beiler tossed a 47-yard touchdown pass to Steven Chupp, the senior receiver running alone up the left seam and hauling in Beiler’s long pass for the score. The extra point was blocked to leave the score at 17-13.
And that’s when McCombs and Chase’s offensive line took over. McCombs carried the ball four straight plays, moving Chase from its 36 to the end zone and a 24-13 lead. Derisma ended a Polk scoring opportunity midway through the fourth period, intercepting a pass at the 3, to set the stage for McCombs’ long scoring run.
“We didn’t make some plays on both sides of the ball that we needed to make to have a chance,” Ollis said. “We had a hard time handling their defensive front. We didn’t block their two defensive ends, and we’ve got to get to the point where we can block those kind of guys. They stopped our inside running game as well as anybody.
“We’ll regroup and be a better team next Saturday (Polk’s next game, at Draughn).”
Angus Weaver had a quiet evening, rushing for 50 yards on 16 carries, but did surpass the 2,500-yard mark for his career. Beiler finished 16-of-21 for 173 yards, with Chupp catching eight passes for 92 yards.