By Mike Phillips
There have been two recurrent themes in what is quickly becoming a disastrous season for the Smith-Cotton football Tigers – inability to finish off drives and crushing turnovers.
Those two rose to the surface again on Senior Night at Jennie Jaynes Stadium.
The Tigers scored the first two times they had they had the ball but never crossed the midfield stripe again until the final quarter.
S-C turned the ball over five times, four of those in the second half and Grain Valley capitalized on all four to post a 25-14 win.
Grain Valley scored 25 unanswered points to notch their second straight win. S-C fell to 0-4 but had faced a rugged schedule in the first three weeks – Nixa, Helias and Hickman. The Eagles came in with one-point losses to both Belton and Savanna, ad a 13-10 win over Warrensburg the week before.
Things looked promising for the Tigers early. Forcing Grain Valley to punt on their first possession, S-C marched 81 yards in 11 plays and quarterback Cody Brown connected with Taylor Mankin in the right corner of the endzone with a 19-yard scoring pass. Timmy Lor kicked the extra point and the Tigers led 7-0 with 4:52 left in the opening quarter.
Chance McMullen had three carries and caught four passes in the opening drive.
S-C’s defense clamped down again, and Grain Valley was forced to punt. This time S-C score on the old hook and ladder play with Brown completing a pass to the Chance McMullen, who then pitched to Cole Simoncic who raced 19 yards for the score. Lor tacked on the extra point and the Tiger led 14-0 with four ticks left in the first quarter.
That was it for the Tigers as they didn’t break midfield again until late in the fourth quarter.
Grain Valley closed the gap to 14-7 on a two-yard run with 5:42 left in the half. After Brown was intercepted for the first time, Grain Valley moved downfield and scored on a two-yard run on the final play of the half. The Eagles kicked the PAT but an offside penalty against the Tigers forced a re-play. This time, a bad snap from center negated the extra point and S-C took a 14-13 lead into the halftime break.
S-C marched to the Grain Valley 36 to start the third quarter, but Brown was picked off again. The Eagles turned that miscue into a touchdown but missed the PAT but had the lead for the first time at 19-14.
The Eagles would not relinquish the lead the rest of the way.
S-C continued to turn the ball over deep in their own territory as the game became controlled by field position in the final quarter.
Grain Valley added field goals of eight and 37 yards in the fourth quarter as S-C could mount no offense.
S-C lost McMullen to a knee injury with 9:30 left in the game.
The Tigers got solid defensive performances form TJ Muths, Tyler Slawson, Alex Dake and McMullen, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the Tiger turnovers.
S-C opens West Central Conference play Friday at Warrensburg. Photos by Randy Kirby, Sedalia News Journal.