The William Chrisman football team couldn’t pull itself out of what has become a three-week offensive funk.
And a Bears defense forced to keep pace had a few too many breakdowns Saturday as the visiting North Kansas City Hornets spoiled Chrisman’s homecoming with a 21-0 Suburban Small Seven victory at Independence All-School Stadium.
In getting shut out for a third consecutive week, a battered bunch of Bears fell to 0-5 overall and 0-3 in the conference. Constantly struggling to string together positive plays, they had just one first down in the first three quarters and finished with 171 yards of offense.
“Two good plays, and two bad plays,” Chrisman coach John Crutcher said. “We can’t keep shooting ourselves in the foot.”
Already missing twin big-play running backs Dalvin and Devante Wilkerson due to injuries, Chrisman also lost backs Domnick Braswell and Deontay Lapsley over the course of the game and lineman Darius Stone missed a few series after hobbling off. Junior quarterback Gannon Ogle returned after missing last week due to injury, but Crutcher said he might still be ailing.
“We’re so beat up, it hurts,” Crutcher said. “I didn’t think Gannon was 100 percent throwing the ball.”
Despite all the youth and health issues, Chrisman’s defense was up to the task early, forcing two punts and two more turnovers on downs inside its own 30. But in the second quarter North Kansas City (4-1, 4-0) quarterback Bryce Graskemper found a gaping a hole off left guard, turning a simple sneak play into a 59-yard touchdown and a 6-0 lead at the 7:57 mark.
The Bears held again inside their 20 thanks to Braswell’s interception. But after taking over with 1:01 left before halftime, the Hornets struck by moving 78 yards in five plays. Donardto Majok hauled in a 32-yard pass from Graskemper, and then a 27-yard rainbow between two defenders on the next play for a touchdown with five seconds left.
“Not making a play on the ball,” Crutcher said. “On both plays we had somebody in position to make a play, and we didn’t make a break on the ball.”
North Kansas City tacked on the final score with 4:54 left in the third, when Graskemper (13 of 28, 178 yards passing) connected with Majok over the middle for a 33-yard score.
The defensive breakdowns were an example of the Bears’ youth showing through, senior running back and linebacker Bret Wolf said.
“We’re super young this year,” said Wolf, who rushed for 70 yards on nine carries and recorded an interception and sack on defense. “When these guys get older, they’ll get more varsity looks instead of going against even younger guys [in practice].
Page 2 of 2 - “We always try to fly around and have fun, even when we do give up big plays. I’m reminding them to keep their heads up.”
Chrisman made two other stops inside its 20 after halftime but couldn’t put together an offensive response. Wolf broke free for a 58-yard run to the Hornet 20 in the first quarter, but a bobbled snap caused that drive to fizzle out. The Bears drove 62 yards to the Hornet 19 late in the fourth before a fourth-down incompletion.
Ogle finished 13 of 30 passing for 103 yards with an interception. Michael Johnson had five catches for 60 yards.
At halftime, William Chrisman inducted seven individuals into their Hall of Fame. Inductees were: Ashley Blum (class of 2000 – football, baseball); Bob Buckley (’71 – longtime football and basketball announcer); Ron Kelley (’64 – track, high school coach); Ben Kisner (’05 – football, basketball, baseball); Dick Puhr (longtime Examiner sports writer); David Ross (’78 – football, high school, college coach); Ellie (Wilkinson) Lilly (’92 – swimming).
Saturday also marked the 1,000th game in the history of the Chrisman football program. The Bears are 439-517-39 all time, with winning seasons in 46 out of 108 years.