The Fort Osage football team struggled to get anything going on offense against crosstown rival Truman in the first half.
That was until one play happened with 5.7 seconds left in the half.
Fort Osage quarterback Ty Baker tossed a screen pass to wide receiver Dez Griswold, who found a huge hole and scored from 34 yards out to give his team a 13-0 lead. That eventually led to a 34-0 win over the Patriots in the Class 5 District 7 semifinal.
Fort Osage will play William Chrisman, who defeated Park Hill South 33-14 in the other semifinal, in the district championship game at 7 p.m. next Friday.
“It was just a simple read play,” Baker said. I made the right read and it was a good throw and a good catch. Dez is a good athlete, he will make good plays for us.”
Before that play, Truman was able to keep the Indian offense in check, holding it to just 6 points in the first 23 minutes. Baker had only completed 4 of his 13 passes leading up to the screen pass and also had an interception. The Patriots also neutralized Fort’s inside running game early on.
“We were a little rusty with the bye week,” said Fort Osage head coach Brock Bult, whose team improved to 8-2. “We took two weeks off and tried to do as many one-on-ones as we could to stay sharp. Truman came out focused and ready to play. They weren’t ready for their season to be over.
“We were trying to be more balanced at the beginning. The receivers were open, but we weren’t able to get it in their hands tonight.”
Added Baker, who completed 8 of 22 passes for 121 yards and a score and rushed for 44 yards on four carries and a TD: “The first half was all on me. Everyone did their job; I didn’t come out prepared. We all got together in the second half and good things happened when we all did our job.”
Despite starting in Truman territory on every drive in the first half, the Indians managed just 13 points. The other touchdown came on a 1-yard run by Derick Krones, which was set up by a personal foul penalty on Truman.
Fort Osage’s offense finally got going late in the third when Baker scrambled 32 yards for a TD in which he cut to his left from about give yards out to avoid a tackle and waltz into the end zone.
Kaia Tupino helped put it away when he got a first down on an 18-yard run up the middle on fourth and 4 from the Truman 22 and he punched it in on the ensuing run early in the fourth.
Blake Robertson capped the scoring with a 10-yard TD run out of the jumbo package on Fort’s next drive.
Although the Indian offense struggled at the beginning, the defense picked it up. The varsity defenders for Fort held Truman to just 74 total yards of offense, had seven tackles for loss, including 1 1/2 sacks from linebacker Dakota Robertson.
“It starts up front and we got it done,” Robertson said. “We all came together as one defense. That made it easy. It wasn’t hard to defend at all (Truman’s offense, which only saw three skill position players get touches).”
Added Bult: “We had some guys out with injuries but we had others step up. This defense has been good all year.”
Despite coming up on the losing end, Truman head coach Charlie Pugh was satisfied with his team’s performance.
“Our defense battled their tails off, even throughout the third quarter,” said Pugh, whose team ended its season at 2-9. “We just have to capitalize on the opportunities we had, but we made too many mistakes on offense. I am very proud of their effort.
“This group of seniors left the program in better shape than they found it.”