By Jeremy Deckard
The Joplin Globe
ROSSVILLE, Kan. —
Chuck Smith has coached enough playoff games with St. Mary’s-Colgan to fully understand the role that turnovers can play in postseason football.
Five Panther turnovers — two fumbles and three interceptions — sealed Colgan’s fate in a 17-7 Kansas Class 3A quarterfinal loss to the Rossville Bulldog on Friday night.
Colgan had multiple chances to score, but had one pass picked off in the end zone and had a touchdown pass taken off the board as a result of a penalty.
“We had decent field position, but gosh we threw a pick and things just didn’t work out,” Smith said. “I didn’t think we could just run the ball at them, so I wanted to throw the ball and that just did not work out. You have to give Rossville credit.”
Rossville picked off three Dyson Dechant pass attempts and recovered two fumbles — one on a Colgan punt return, the other on a botched hook-and-lateral.
“We said all week that these two teams are fairly matched and that mistakes would play a big role,” Rossville coach Steve Buhler said. “Whether it is mistakes on missed assignments, on fumbled footballs, penalties or turnovers we knew they would make a difference in the game. Luckily for us we came out on the right end of most of those tonight.”
“They (Rossville) are as hard a hitting team as we’ve played all year,” Smith said. “Girard played that way, but not only to do they hit hard, they also ran the ball hard. Their backs and quarterback played really well.”
Colgan running back Connor Dayton scored the Panthers’ lone touchdown with a 35-yard scoring run in the first quarter to tie the game. Rossville scored first in the game on a 6-yard run by Thatcher Horak and took the lead for good in the second quarter on a 31-yard field goal by Taylor Hartshorn.
Dayton finished with 70 yards on the ground in his last game for the Panthers.
“I am really proud of our senior class, a lot of people did not think that we would be here in the playoffs, but we came together and were a close group,” Dayton said. “They (Rossville) were just a real physical team. They are not the biggest team up front but they controlled the line good tonight.”