William Chrisman’s playmaking and collective heart were almost enough to pull off a comeback win Friday night against North Kansas City.
Trailing 36-20 with 8:18 to play, the Bears staged back-to-back scoring drives in less than five minutes to make it a two-point ballgame. With 2:54 to play, they got the ball again and drove from their own 23-yard line into Northtown territory. Facing fourth-and-22 from the Northtown 45, Gannon Ogle threw long, hoping to pick up a first down and keep Chrisman’s postseason alive.
The pass was intercepted. Northtown took a knee three times to run out the clock and hand Chrisman a 36-34 Class 5 District 7 defeat at North Kansas City High School.
“Gannon’s interception has nothing to do with (the outcome of) this game,” Chrisman football coach John Crutcher said. “It’s fourth down, so it doesn’t matter. There are a lot of plays that we made tonight that’s the difference between the last time we played them and this time.”
Northtown defeated Chrisman 21-0 when the teams met during the regular season Sept. 28 at Independence All-School Stadium. But despite that defeat, the Bears “never stopped believing” in themselves, according to Crutcher. Their injuries got mended, too.
“It came together at the right time,” he said.
Friday night, the Bears repeatedly “came together” to challenge the Hornets whenever Northtown tried to build a cushy lead. After Galen Gist’s 53-yard fumble return for a touchdown had given the Hornets a 6-0 lead with 3:22 left in the first quarter, D’Vontae Brown answered with a game-tying 33-yard TD run on Chrisman’s next possession.
After the Hornets had scored on back-to-back second-quarter possessions to stake a 21-6 halftime lead, Ogle answered with a 29-yard TD pass to Bret Wolf and a two-point conversion pass to Michael Johnson with 12 seconds left in the third quarter.
Then, the Hornets went up 28-14 on quarterback Bryce Graskemper’s 22-yard run and Josh Folken’s extra-point kick with 9:30 to play. Ogle answered with the second of his three total TD passes – a 50-yarder to Johnson with 8:36 remaining.
Again, Northtown made it a double-digit ballgame – this time with Graskemper’s 58-yard TD pass to Milton Hall and Graskemper’s two-point run with 8:18 left. Again, Chrisman answered.
First, Ogle picked up 15 more of his 328 total passing yards and his final TD pass by connecting with Wolf again with 6:39 remaining. A fumble return then set up Brown’s 2-yard TD run and two-point conversion run to make it a 36-34 game with 3:56 remaining.
By denying Chrisman the game-winning scoring drive, the Hornets improved to 5-5 and set up next Wednesday’s district semifinal meeting at top-seeded and undefeated Fort Osage (9-0). They also ended the Bears’ season at 1-9.
“It was a good season,” Crutcher said. “We had our ups and downs, and the kids fought all year and battled all year through adversity. The kids that stuck it out are warriors. Love every one of them. I’m so proud to be their coach.”