Conner had two chances to gain a yard Friday.
Simon Kenton stopped the Cougars on both – key plays in the Pioneers’ 42-21 win at Tom Stellman Field.
On third down and Conner three feet from a touchdown late in the second quarter, Hayden Blair and Mark Ober stuffed Conner’s Emmanuel Ekpe.
“It was an edge blitz on the outside,” Ober said. “We had stunts going on the inside to try to force him out. He didn’t want to run outside.”
On fourth down, Ober tackled Ekpe by himself.
“It was almost the same call,” Ober said. “The linemen opened up a nice hole for me, (I) went right down the line and was able to make a stop on him.”
Both Simon Kenton coach Roy Lucas and Conner’s David Trosper thought the two plays were the most important.
“I think it was huge, especially for our defense, from a momentum standpoint,” Lucas said.
Trosper, meanwhile, considered another fourth-and-1 play in the third quarter equally painful. The Pioneers’ Jake Putthoff stopped Wyatt Hatfield, followed by Brady Lee’s 31-yard touchdown pass to Nathan Kitchens touchdown the next play.
“You’ve gotta get a first down … you’ve gotta get one yard,” Trosper said.
What Ober and Blair did not only stopped the Cougars drive – it was the catalyst in the Pioneers’ subsequent 98-yard touchdown drive.
Simon Kenton scored 21 unanswered third-quarter points to take a 35-14 lead, but there were myriad other reasons the Pioneers improved to 2-2.
Start with Lee – 254 passing yards, the 31-yard pass to Kitchens, and two rushing scores.
Continue with running back Durrell Turner – 175 yards on the ground and a score.
And finish with receivers Tysin Weaver (four catches, 99 yards), Kitchens (three for 80) and Grayson Harris (six for 40).
“We have tons of playmakers that can go make plays,” Lee said.
It took just 23 seconds and five of the first quarter for Simon Kenton and Conner to each score a touchdown. Turner’s 60-yard run with 7:19 left included breaking a tackle at the Cougar 30 (Luke Schieber added the two-point conversion), and Ekpe’s 26-yarder around left end made it 8-7 Simon Kenton with 6:56 remaining.
Conner (3-2) took its only lead at 14-8 a little less than three minutes into the second stanza on Hatfield’s 1-yard plunge; his 45-yard run six snaps earlier. He led the Cougars with 159 rushing yards.
COUGARS 42, PIONEERS 21
SIMON KENTON — 8-6-21-7 — 42
CONNER — 7-7-7-0 — 21
(SK)-Wyatt Hatfield 60 run (Luke Schieber run), 7:19
(C)- Emmanuel Ekpe 26 run (Andrew Herron kick), 6:56
(C)-Hatfield 1 run (Herron kick), 8:11
(SK)-Brady Lee 4 run (kick failed), 0:23.7
(SK)-Lee 4 run (Cole Garnett kick), 9:03
(SK)-Durrell Turner 5 run (Garnett kick), 3:48
(SK)-Nathan Kitchens 31 pass from Lee (Garnett kick), 2:00
(C)-Chase Caplinger 41 pass from Hatfield (Herron kick), 0:39.9
(SK)-D. Turner 2 run (Garnett kick), 7:04
Passing Yards: Simon Kenton 254 (Lee 16-19); Conner 90 (Hatfield 6-14).
Rushing Yards: Simon Kenton 225 (D. Turner 22-175, Lee 14-28, T. Turner 4-7, Weaver 2-7, Farfsing 1-8); Conner 207 (Hatfield 16-159, Ekpe 7-40, Abernathy 4-2, Dozier 1-(minus-1), Fay 2-7).
Receiving: Simon Kenton 254 (Weaver 4-99, Blades 1-13, Harris 6-40, Kitchens 3-80, Richardson 1-9, Powell 1-13);Conner 90 (Ekpe 1-10, Fay 1-5, Bailey 2-28, Ruzindana 1-4, Caplinger 2-43).
Turnovers: Simon Kenton 0, Conner 0.
Penalties: Simon Kenton 8-75, Conner 5-45
Records: Simon Kenton 2-2, Conner 3-2.