There was a bit of an anticlimactic feel in the air, even before last Friday’s Bearcat kickoff to the St. James Tigers at Bearcat Memorial Stadium. Hermann had an impressive, if not explosive game against South Callaway the week before, coming out on top 40-27. Bearcat fans were still savoring that win walking into the stadium, but it wouldn’t be long before they’d be wrapped up in more excitement from Head Coach Andy Emmon’s team, as they forced the Mercy Rule to kick in going into the 4th Q., winning this game 43-6. Again, they made it look easy, but it was far from ho-hum.
After winning the coin toss, the Bearcats kicked off, and recovered a Tiger fumble on the 50-yard line. Three-first and 10s later and 2nd and 8 yards to go on the 16, QB Chase McKague took the ball into the end zone on a keeper. The 2-point conversion failed, with 8:47 on the clock. 6-0, Bearcats.
After the kickoff and a St. James Tiger 1st and 10 on their 41, Carter Hemeyer intercepts a pass, but Hermann gets called on a “block in the back,” putting them on their 34 yard line. Then Coach Emmons wakes up the Tiger secondary with a McKague bomb down the middle that was incomplete. Fans would see this three or four times during the night, proving McKague can put the ball up there if the situation calls for it. Maybe this defensive threat was always in the Bearcat arsenal, but it debuted like a shiny, new toy last Friday night. At 3rd and 10, a strike to Bearcat receiver Keegan Head was complete, with Head taking the ball down to the 15 yd. line. Another pass to Head was complete. With a first and 10 on the one yd. line, McKague went over the goal line with a keeper and the two-point extra was good on a pass to Trent Anderson making the score 14-0, with 4:27 on the clock.
But the Tiger specialty team had a surprise of their own as senior Nick Halbrook ran back the kickoff with an 85 yd. return. The extra point kick was no good, putting the score at 14-6d with four minutes on the clock.
The Bearcats returned the favor on the Tiger kickoff, with Keegan Head returning the kickoff all the way in a back-atcha move. The fans roared, but it was to be short-lived. The Bearcats not only had the TD called back for a blocking-in-the-back penalty, but were also called on a personal foul. Ouch, but what an opening Q1!
Into Q2, with St. James on their own 25, Keegan Head intercepts, though their was Bearcat holding on the play. With a 1st and 10 on the Tiger 29, Trent Gleeson gets a pass reception down to the 21. QB McKage runs the ball three times going in from the one-yard line, up the middle, for the TD. Trent Anderson carried for the two-point conversion. 22-6, Bearcats, with 7:49 until the half.
Then the Bearcats threw in another stunner. They try an on-sides kick and recover mid-field! The Bearcats march down the field, doing what they do so well with their ground game, eating up the clock. With 3rd and 6 to go on the Tiger 25 yard line, running back Brennan Knipping sprints up the middle for the TD. Anderson carried for the two-point conversion, standing up in the end zone with 4:18 on the clock. 30-6, Bearcats.
The Tigers kicked off to the Bearcats at the start of the second half. With 2nd and 4 to go for a first down, a fumbled bad snap was recovered by the Tigers on the Bearcat 38 in good field position. But a holding penalty against the Tigers and a stubborn Bearcat defense caused them to punt from the 44 yard line. Both teams were unable to convert their drives into first downs until the Bearcats found themselves driving downfield from the their own 49 yd. line, down to the eight. With 2:41 on the clock and 3rd and three on the eight, McKage rolled out left on the option and kept the ball as he ran into the end zone for the TD. The kicked extra point was good putting the score at 37-6, Bearcats.
The Bearcats kicked off and St. James took over at their 48 yd. line. They moved the ball to the Bearcat 40 yd. line when they fumbled and the Bearcats recovered.
Q4 Mercy Rule
After rushing efforts by Holden Ash and Brennan Knipping, the Bearcats zoom into Q4 and find themselves 2nd and goal on the three-yd. line with 9:56. The Mercy Rule had kicked in going into Q4, meaning the clock is in continuous-run mode to prevent blowout scores.
From the three-yd. line, McKague rolled and passed to Trent Gleeson for the TD. The extra point kick was no good, which left the score at 43-6, Bearcats.
With the clock ticking down relentlessly, both teams seemed to have had enough. For the Bearcats, another decisive win was their payoff for another well-executed game.
They took care of the ball and they took the ball, taking advantage of Tiger turnovers. With an energized passing game, the Bearcat offense proved they can be more dangerous than they have shown. The offensive and defensive linemen show they are up to the task of man-handling much larger opponents than themselves—at least long enough for QB McKague to execute his option with backs that are used very effectively by the offensive coordinators against the defenses seen this year.
Put another way, this may be basic meat and potatoes football, but Coach Emmons knows when to throw the dessert on top of the mashed potatoes—just to keep the other teams guessing.
This win puts the Hermann Bearcats at 3-0. They had 379 total offensive yds., rushing on the ground for 331 yds. Brennan Knipping had 114 yds. for the night on 8 carries and Chase McKague rushed for 104 yds. on 17 carries. QB McKague threw the ball 12 times for five completions and 48 yds. Keegan Head had two receptions for 33 yds, Trent Gleeson caught two for 12 yds and Trent Anderson one reception for three yds. St. James had 61 total yards on offense.
On defense, Keegan Head and Carter Hemeyer each had one interception in the game. Anderson, Gleeson and Seth Hackmann each had a fumble recovery. The Bearcats had four QB sacks from Brody Fredrick, Gleeson, Hackmann and Grant Pohlmann. The Bearcat defense had 33 tackles with eight assists, led by Brody Fredrick with six unassisted tackles. Trent Gleeson had four, three of them assists and Grant Pohlmann had three unassisted tackles. 11 of those tackles resulted in a negative 62 yd. for the Tigers.