CHAPMAN – The Clay Center Tigers rallied midway through the fourth quarter to retake the lead and earn a 21-14 win over the Chapman Fighting Irish football team in a battle of 3A districts teams.
The Tigers took an early lead in the game as senior quarterback Blake Frederick ran in from four-yards out to give Clay Center a 7-0 lead midway through the opening period. The two teams battled back and forth during the rescheduled game that was postponed from Friday to be played last night in Chapman.
Two equally talented teams continued to fight for field position throughout the first half with Clay Center taking the 7-0 lead to the locker room at halftime.
The Irish came out energized in the third quarter and after receiving the opening kickoff, Chapman senior quarterback Trevor Erickson down the field in six plays that culminated in a 33-yard busted play misdirection run by Erickson for the Irish touchdown. The conversion failed and Chapman trailed 6-7.
Erickson was big for the Irish defense on the next Clay Center possession as he intercepted a Frederick third-down pass and returned it nearly 35 yards to the Tiger 33-yard line. Six plays later and the aid of a Tiger personal foul, the Irish had the ball and third down at the 10-yard line. Erickson found a leaping Jon Jenkins for the score. Erickson ran the two-point conversion to give Chapman a 14-7 advantage with just under four minutes to play in the third quarter.
Clay Center responded with 10-play drive that resulted in a seven-yard touchdown run J.W. Jackson as the Tigers pulled within one at 13-14. The extra point attempt failed and the Irish clung to a one-point lead headed to the fourth quarter.
The Irish ran nearly seven minutes off the fourth quarter clock in a drive that saw Chapman move the ball in chunks as Erickson found Camden Liebau on three passing plays to advance the ball into Clay Center territory. With the ball inside the Tigers 40-yard line, the Irish committed back-to-back penalties that negated drives they had achieved. Then came a pass by Erickson that was tipped and intercepted by Clay Center Tanner Demars to put the Tigers at midfield with five and a half minutes left in the game.
Frederick handed the ball junior running back Lane Musselman who broke tackles and dodged defenders and took off on a 53-yard touchdown run that proved to be the winning score. Keegan McDonald ran in the two-point conversion and the Tigers led 21-14 with 4:28 remaining in the game.
The Irish gave the ball to Erickson at their 35-yard line with just over four minutes to try and march down the field with the opportunity for the tie or the one-point win. On this night, the Tiger defense stiffened and covered all receivers and the Irish turned the ball over on downs to the Tigers and they ran out the clock with quarterback carries to give them the win.
Clay Center moves to 3-3 on the season and 2-2 in the NCKL play. Chapman is now 2-2 on the season and 1-1 in conference play. The Irish will host Council Grove on Friday.