ALTAMONT — Labette County had 95 yards of cushion with under two minutes left before the Grizzlies would have secured its first win of the season.
Instead, the Fort Scott Tigers marched down the field and scored a touchdown as the clock hit zeroes to break Altamont hearts and hand the Grizzlies a 19-15 defeat.
While the final play, a 2-yard run from Cade Gulager of Fort Scott, is the memory that will incept into the minds of many, the Grizzlies should have never been in that position.
On the previous drive, Labette County got the ball inside the red zone off an interception with a 15-13 lead and the clock ticking down.
A touchdown would put the game on ice.
“You can’t expect different results when you make the same mistakes over and over,” Labette County head coach Sean Price said. “We had a first-and-goal from the 4 and still can’t score. We’re still up and can’t stop them from 95 yards with under three minutes to go. We couldn’t make plays when we needed to.”
Perhaps the highest-leverage moment on the final drive for Fort Scott came on a fourth down incompletion with the Tigers still on their own side of the field. What should have been a game-ending play was instead a drive-extender when Andon Searles of the Grizzlies was flagged for a late hit on a receiver.
Price didn’t hide his opinion about the call.
“That was bad. The ball was batted and didn’t come down with his head,” Price said. “That’s a killer. We get the ball, but they decide to change the game, I guess.”
Sophomore quarterback Kendall Holtzman, responsible for both of Labette County’s scores on sneaks, threw for 150 yards on 16-of-27 passing with one interception.
Griffin Eaton was Holtzman’s favorite target, hauling in eight catches for 79 yards.
However, Labette County was held to 14 rushing yards in the game.
“The kids are giving everything they’ve got,” Price said. “We just keep making mistakes at bad times. We did a lot of things. But we still can’t run the ball and cannot catch a break with injuries.”
Fort Scott amassed 327 total yards of offense with 171 coming through the air and 156 on the ground.
With the loss, Labette County dropped to 0-5 on the season while Fort Scott improved to 1-4.
With three games, all on the road, left for the Grizzlies, Price will keep trying to find answers.
“We’re going to stay positive and keep working on getting better,” Price said. “These young kids are all coming back next year. We’re only losing a few kids. Our biggest thing is to give some of those kids something good to leave on.”
Labette County hits the road to face Coffeyville, the Grizzlies’ third straight winless opponent. Coffeyville lost to Mulvane 51-6 on Friday.
“We have to take care of what we can take care of and not worry about them,” Price said. “We have bigger things to take care of.”