Before last Friday night’s game against the South Callaway Bulldogs, Hermann Head Football Coach Andy Emmons told John Covington, sports broadcaster of radio station KLPW that the contest (to paraphrase) “would be more than physical.”
“We will need to set the tone early so they know they can’t push us around,” he said.
When the Bearcats took the field to receive, they set the tone and more. They blocked. They tackled. They ran up the middle and outside with QB Chase McKague making effective decisions, controlling the football with the option. They passed and caught the ball. They stole the ball and stopped Bulldog 4th-down threats that led to a very convincing on-the-road win over South Callaway by a score of 40-27.
Setting the tone
With the air temp a warm 81 degrees and a light breeze out of the north, the Bearcats received the opening kickoff and immediately took control, marching steadily downfield. The team racked up five 1st and 10’s with impressive offensive line blocking so QB Chase McKague, Trent Anderson and Trent Gleeson could propel the team’s offense toward the goal line. After a reception to Keegan Head for eleven yards, Anderson and Gleeson got the ball down to the three-yard line. Anderson went in for the first TD and Brennan Knipping ran in for the two-point conversion, making it eight-zip, Bearcats. The team ate up seven minutes on the clock, showing 5:05.
The Bearcat kickoffs are like well-directed end-over-end line drives that make the ball hard to handle. Sure enough, the rattled Bulldogs fumbled the kickoff, but recovered the ball on the 41 yard line.
On the Bulldog’s first set of downs, starting at the 36 and 2nd and four for the 1st and 10, a run up the right side put them on the 50 yard line. At the ball snap, senior QB Cole Shoemaker retreated from the pass rush, but was dropped for a 12 yard loss. The next play, the Bulldogs drew a false start penalty. But on 3rd and 27 yds. to go for a first down, Shoemaker throws a bomb down the right sideline where it was caught and taken in to the end zone. The extra point kick was good. The score was 8-7, Bearcats.
Holden Ash received an on-sides kick attempt, putting the ball at the 43. The Bearcats drive to the 28 yard line as the first quarter ends.
2Q - The battle
At 4th down and 2 yards to go for the 1st and 10, McKague scrambles to pass, chased by two pass rushers. Miraculously, he gets the ball off to Keegan Head who makes the catch and runs down the left sideline for the touchdown with 10:40 on the clock. The two-point attempt caught the Bulldog secondary off-guard. McKague scrambles right and throws back across the field of motion to a wide-open Head who makes the catch and secures another two points making the score 16-7, Bearcats.
With the Bulldogs taking possession on their 32 yard line, QB Shoemaker is sacked by Anderson and Gleeson behind the line for a two-yard loss. The next down with Shoemaker back to pass, he throws and Keegan Head intercepts and is tackled on the Bulldog 49. Moving the ball down to the 29 yard line, the Bearcats fumble and it’s recovered by South Callaway.
The Bearcat defense stops the drive on the Bulldog 45 yard line with 5:17 left in the half. Taking over on offense, the Bearcats get a holding penalty, so they’re faced with 1st and 20 on their 45 yard line. Brennan Knipping takes the ball on the option and stings the Bulldog defense, sprinting 55 yards down the left sideline for the touchdown. The two-point conversion is good with a pass to the left corner. The score is 24-7, Bearcats, with 4:50 left on the clock.
The Bearcat defensive line and linebackers controlled South Callaway running backs, Nick Mealy and Devin Borghardt, but after this kickoff, these two backs went to work and the Bearcat defense found out how explosive they can be getting the ball downfield with a couple of good blocks. With 3:45 on the clock and 2nd down and six on the 41 yard line, Borghardt scooted past the line, linebackers and safety Keegan Head for the TD. The Bulldogs proved to have an accurate extra point kicker with the kick being good. The score stood at 24-14.
The Bearcats received with 3:45 on the clock, but couldn’t sustain a drive and punted on 4th down. With 2nd and four for the first down, with the ball on the 26 yard line, the Bulldogs blow a big hole in our defense up the middle and run the ball down to the Bearcat 32 yard line with :56 seconds on the clock for the end of the half. Shoemaker throws a reception down to the two-yard line with :17 seconds on the clock. South Callaway scores and the kicked extra point is good. At half-time, the score was 24-21, Bearcats.
3Q - Opportunities
The Bearcats kick-off. After moving the ball to a first down, the Bulldogs were 3rd and seven to go at their 48 yard line. QB Shoemaker launched a bomb down the middle which was not complete between two Bearcat defenders, but one of them was called on pass interference on the 33, in Bearcat territory. On the first down, the ball pops loose into the arms of Hermann defensive lineman Collin Heather, who ran the ball to the Bulldog 49 yard line. After three Bearcat first-downs with the ball on the 10 yard line and 3rd and five, Chase McKague threw to receiver Carter Hemeyer in the left corner of the end zone for the TD. The two-point conversion was good with a pass up the middle to Knipping with 5:45 on the clock. 32-21, Bearcats.
After the kickoff, the Bulldogs racked up three, 1st and 10s, with the ball on the 32. Trent Gleeson throws QB Shoemaker for a seven-yard loss. Gleeson tackled a Bulldog runner on the next play behind the line for a two-yard loss on the 41 to end the 3rd Quarter, 32-21, Bearcats.
4 - Takin’ it to ‘em
With 3rd down and 19 yards for a 1st and 10, the Bulldogs drive down to the 33. On 4th down, QB Shoemaker passes but is incomplete. The Bearcats took over on the 33 with 11:12 on the clock. Hermann fumbles the ball on the 44 and it’s recovered by South Callaway. With 4th down and five on the Bearcat 39, RB Devin Borghardt blasts through the middle, standing up for the TD. Bearcat Luke Bader stopped the run on a two-point conversion, so the score is 32-27, Bearcats.
After the kickoff, the Bearcats had good field position on their own 48 yard line. After a bad snap and subsequent recovered fumble, QB Chase McKague throws a bomb to Keegan Head, taking it down to the 20 yard line with 7:30 on the clock. On 2nd down and three yds. to go from the 13 yard line, QB McKague pitches to Trent Gleeson on the option for the TD. The two-point conversion was good, with a throw to Keegan Head, making the score 40-27.
Hermann recovered their own on-side kickoff on the 50 yard line, but failed to convert the opportunity into a score. Neither team could punch the ball in before the clock ran out to end the game.
The Bearcats racked up 410 total yds. on offense, 254 of those on the ground. With 40 carries, that averaged 6.35 yds. per carry. Brennan Knipping was the leading rusher with 87 yds., followed by Trent Anderson with 85 and Trent Gleeson with 58.
Passing, Chase McKague was 10 for 15, throwing for 145 yds. He threw four times to Keegan Head for 80 yds., but also to Knipping, Carter Hemeyer, Gleeson, Anderson and Brody Fredrick.
Making turnovers was crucial, as Coach Emmons noted before the game. Gleeson and Head both had an interception and Ethan Adams and Collin Heather got a fumble recovery apiece. Hermann had three quarterback sacks from Luke Bader, Gleeson and McKague. A big defensive difference for the night was 10 unassisted tackles from Trent Gleeson. Holden Ash and Luke Bader also had four apiece. Offensively and defensively, it was a real team effort.