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Saturday, October 29, 2005

Independence ties up playoff berth

Independence ran, passed and kicked the ball with authority in defeating Wyoming East 37-14 Friday night at Coal City.

“It’s nice when you have weapons like that,” coach Scotty Cuthbert said after his Patriots ran for 210 yards, passed for 190 and kicked what could have been 10 points. “We had five or six who caught passes and four who ran the football.”

Independence (7-3), as it has done most of the season, ran tailback Sean Combs (9 carries for 80 yards and two touchdowns), halfbacks James Barton (6-42) and Chris Saunders (8-36) and quarterback Mark Cuthbert (12-47, 1 TD).

But Cuthbert also unleashed a powerful passing attack, completing 6-of-12 passes without an interception.

He also kicked a 28-yard field goal in the first quarter that his coach/father overruled when Wyoming East was called for a personal foul.

Taking a first-and-goal deep in the Warriors’ territory instead of the three points, the Patriots found quick paydirt on a five-yard run by Combs.

So much for the old adage about not taking points off the scoreboard.

“I would have kept (the field goal) outside the 10,” Scotty Cuthbert said. “But if you’re a playoff team, you should be able to get it in on first-and-goal from the five.”

Mark Cuthbert later booted a 30-yard field goal late in the second quarter in addition to four PAT boots.

“Mark was averaging 34.5 yards on punts and had three or four kicks for touchbacks,” Scott Cuthbert said. “He has the good leg for field goals, but when you put the coach’s son in, everybody thinks we’re making him a hero.

“So we faked it about eight times this year and he threw seven two-point conversions.”

Wyoming East (2-7) made it interesting in the second period, rallying from an early 14-0 deficit on a 52-yard touchdown pass from Brad Miller to Carlos Whitt and a seven-yard TD run from Justin Chambers.

Undaunted, Independence came roaring back on a 59-yard breakaway for a score by Combs. Late in the half, Cuthbert found Justin White with a 62-yard pass play to set up the second field goal try.

“Instead of finding a way to lose, we’re finding a way to win,” Scott Cuthbert said. “Sean did a good job and Mark hit Justin with a big pass to take the momentum away.”

The Patriots maintained control of the game in the second half with a 65-yard TD pass to Josh Nelson and a recovered fumble in the end zone by defender Josh Buchanan for a touchdown.

East’s Miller completed 5-of-15 passes for 104 yards, but was intercepted twice by A.J. Waters and once by Combs.

“We worked all week on not letting them throw a home run,” Cuthbert said. “Other than that one pass (to Whitt), we did what we wanted to do.”

Tailback Logan Hall gained 82 yards on 15 carries for the Warriors.

It was another tough loss for coach Kevin Grogg, whose team had several nice drives negated by penalties and turnovers.

“It’s been like that all year. The same mistakes, mental stuff,” Grogg said. “Last year we beat Independence soundly, with the same people, except the seniors are even better.

“We were always shooting ourselves in the foot tonight — jumping offside, missing tackles and not being where we’re supposed to.

“Independence turned it around in some close games and we haven’t. Scotty’s got his team going in the right direction.”

The Warriors finish their season next week at Liberty while the Patriots get a week off to prepare for the playoffs.

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