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Indians respond to challenge, rally past Patriots

By Cody Thorn
The Examiner

Fort Osage coach Brock Bult wasn’t satisfied with his team’s effort in the first half Friday.

So he gave them a challenge for the second half.

It worked. A pair of special teams plays sparked Fort Osage in the fourth quarter and then the legs of quarterback Greg Menne provided key plays to seal a 29-20 Suburban Middle Six victory over Truman.

The victory snapped a four-game losing streak for the Indians, who scored all 29 points in the second half.

“We weren’t doing our job in the first half and we challenged them to have more passion, to be more physical and get better each time they are on the field,” Bult said. “They stepped up to the challenge.”

Early in the fourth quarter, Truman regained the lead on a quirky play. Dimitri Smith got a first down but fumbled. The ball bounced in and out of the hands of a Fort Osage defender and then Truman wide receiver Chris Rhodes picked it up at the 28-yard line and ran it in for a touchdown.

Though Truman (0-7, 0-5 Middle Six) regained the lead, Fort Osage blocked the extra point attempt and trailed 20-14.

Then, the Indians (2-6, 2-3) had another big special teams play.

Larenzo Fenner returned the kickoff and got to the Truman 24-yard line and a pass interference on Truman gave the Indians the ball at the 10-yard line. Jadean Penamon ran to the 2-yard line, but a holding call moved Fort Osage back to the 12.

Menne hit Ben Nettleton for a 10-yard gain to the 2-yard line but fourth down was coming up. Menne got the call and dove head first into the end zone.

Xander Shepherd booted the extra point and Fort Osage led 21-20.

That was the fifth fourth-down attempt of the night for the Indians and the first one they converted.

“There was a lot of emotions going through my head to be honest,” said Menna, a sophomore. “Penamon carried out his read very well and it opened up for me to make a great play.

“It is crazy when you are flying through the air, you almost feel like Superman.”

Truman’s next drive ended with an interception by sophomore Roman Tillmon at midfield and he ran it back to Truman’s 39-yard line.

Menne had a 16-yard run to the 2-yard line and Fenner capped the drive with a 4-yard touchdown run. There were three different offsides penalties on the drive – two by Truman.

Up 27-20, Fort Osage went for two and sophomore Izaiah Larusch scored to boost the lead to 29-20 with 2:41 to play.

Truman ended up punting on its final drive, gaining only 14 yards after taking the 21-20 lead.

The Patriots suffered their 13th straight loss, squandering a 14-0 halftime lead. Truman started the contest by recovering a fumble on the opening kickoff – the second straight week that happened to Fort Osage – and the drive was capped by a 4-yard touchdown run by Devron Rivera, a 6-foot-4, 390-pound offensive lineman.

Later in the first quarter, the Patriots ran a Dontari Poe-like play in which Rivera attempted a pass on fourth-and-goal from the 6-yard line, but it fell incomplete.

The Patriots boosted the lead to 14-0 in the second quarter when quarterback Quincy Scott hit Rhodes for a 66-yard touchdown. Rhodes went up for the pass with two defenders near him. He landed behind them and won a foot race to the end zone.

Fort Osage tied it at 14 in the third. Menne to Fenner made it 14-7 and right after that, the Indians got the ball back when David Jacquez recovered an onside kick.

Larusch’s 9-yard touchdown run capped that drive to forge the tie.

On the drive that ended in the Menne-to-Fenner touchdown, the Patriots lost Rivera to an injury and he didn’t return.

“We played good; we lost our big guy in the middle,” Truman coach Charlie Pugh said. “He is our rock and he is our anchor. That kind of changed things. I thought we still had a chance but we’ve got to make stops. They were able to move the front more. The guys are battling and we are getting better each week. No. 1 (Fenner) is a special player and their quarterback (Menne) is too. They outhustled us … it’s just tough.”

This is the third close loss for the Patriots, who have lost to Grandview, Winnetonka and Fort Osage by a combined 14 points.