Boonville to host Fulton in the first round of the district playoffs on Thursday
Not just one senior but multiple seniors led the way for the Boonville Pirates football team Friday night in a 28-6 win over the Marshall Owls in the regular-season finale at the BHS Sports Complex.
With third place in the conference up for grabs along with a No. 3 seed in the Class 3 District 6 playoffs, the Pirates leaned heavily on their senior class to lead the way over a much improved Marshall team Friday night.
And just as expected, the seniors didn't disappoint while accounting for all 28 points.
With the district playoffs set to begin for some high school teams on Thursday, the Pirates took advantage of four interceptions and one fumble by the Owls to win for the fifth time in their last six games to improve to 5-4 overall and 4-2 in the NCMC.
Not bad considering that at one point in the season the Pirates were 0-3 overall. But going into the opening round of the district playoffs as the No. 3 seed, Boonville will get to host one playoff game anyway on Thursday against the 2-7 Fulton Hornets starting at 7 p.m. Boonville beat Fulton in Week 7 of the regular season at Gene Reagan Field in Boonville by a score of 47-21. The winner of the game will move on to the second round of the district playoffs on Wednesday, Oct. 31 at a site to be determined.
Boonville Pirates football coach Devin Brown said obviously you want to win and not lose going into the playoffs. "It gives you a little momentum going in so hopefully we will be alright," Brown said. "It was also good to finish third in the conference but now we have to move on. Now we have Fulton again and we need to get ready for them. Their quarterback is out so now they are running it a little bit more. I think they are going to be better than what they were when they came here. We can't let our head get big because we have beaten them already just a few weeks ago."
The Pirates also entered Friday night's game with four just wins against the Owls since joining the NCMC back in 2008.
But just as expected this game was too close to call for either coach much less the fans going into the contest. While Brown stated after the game that he thought it would be something like 14-7, he appeared to be dead on at least for a half as the Pirates scored the game's only touchdown with only three seconds left before the break when senior quarterback Jared Oser hit senior receiver Gus Kemp in the back of the end zone from 18 yards out to make it 7-0.
Although Kemp has been quiet offensively for most of the season, he delivered in a big way against the Owls while coming down with the ball amongst a plethora of Marshall defenders for the Pirates first touchdown.
Kemp said it was basically one of those halftime plays where you go up and get it and see what happens. "I was just lucky to come down with it," Kemp said. "I just wanted to come out and play for my seniors and get the win because it was Senior-Parents Night and obviously I am a senior."
Of course Brown had two words to describe Kemp's touchdown: momentum shift.
"That was huge," Brown said of the touchdown right before the half, "but then we go up 14 on the pick six by Jay. Except for the long touchdown pass we gave up in the third quarter I thought the defense played well. We didn't do much offensively tonight but you have to give credit to Marshall's defense because they are pretty good. Both teams hit hard and competed but we knew going in that it was going to be that way. Hats off to the kids but now the playoffs begin."
With only one score for the first 24 minutes of the ballgame, neither coach could have been particularly happy with the offense in the first half. While the Pirates accounted for the game's only touchdown, they also punted the ball four times and fumbled once. As for Marshall, they had a little tougher time offensively while throwing two picks and fumbling the ball once. The Owls also punted the ball once and turned the ball back over to Boonville on downs.
Of course that all changed in the second half. After two straight three and outs, the Pirates caught another break on Marshall's second possession when senior Jay Barnhart picked off a pass from senior quarterback Alex Maupin and ran it back in for a touchdown from 45 yards out with 4:26 left in the third quarter to extend the lead to 14-0.
"Jay got the pick six for a touchdown but I thought Tyler Peterson hustling down field to help give the block to get him in the end zone was huge," Brown said. "I don't know what it is with Jay playing against Marshall but he came up big again tonight. Some kids just play better against certain teams."
With 12 tackles last year against the Owls, Barnhart had a total of eight tackles Friday night with three solo stops, five assisted tackles, one tackle for loss, one interception and one recovered fumble.
Barnhart said he just loves playing Marshall. "Last year I stepped up my game so I just carried it over to this year," Barnhart said. "On the interception, I just read it perfectly and ran toward the end zone."
Needless to say the game was far from being over at that point. Trailing 14-0 late in the third quarter, the Owls finally got on the board at the 3:43 mark when Maupin hooked up with sophomore receiver Logan Harris on a 62-yard scoring strike to cut the lead to eight at 14-6.
However it was all Boonville for the rest of the game as Oser capped off a 11-play, 65-yard drive for the score on a 28-yard run with 10:30 left to push the lead to 21-6. Then, after kicking off the ball to the Owls at their own 38, the Pirates may have nailed the coffin shut on the third play of the drive when Kemp took a Maupin pass back for a 70-yard interception with 9:50 remaining to make it 28-6.
Kemp said he had a lot of daylight after intercepting the ball. "Jalen Poindexter led the way and I just followed him to the end zone," Kemp said. "It felt pretty good, too."
The Owls never crossed mid-field again for the rest of the game while going three and out on their next possession and six plays and a punt on their final drive.
Brown said along with the defense holding Marshall to just one score, winning the turnover battle was also key.
"I think we were plus four in turnovers and anytime you are over plus three, you have a good shot of winning," Brown said.
For the game, the Pirates also had 10 first downs along with 165 yards rushing and another 40 passing for a total of 205. Marshall, meanwhile, had 10 first downs along with 107 yards rushing and 85 passing for a total of 192. Of course the Owls also had four interception in the game and one lost fumble while Boonville had no picks and just one lost fumble.
On an individual note, senior Kelsey Callaway was back to his old self while rushing for 81 yards on 16 carries while Oser had 54 yards on 16 attempts. Oser also completed 5 of 14 passes for 40 yards and one touchdown.
Of course when he did throw, he looked to senior Damario Walker, who had three catches for 14 yards. Kemp, meanwhile, had one reception for 18 yards and one touchdown.
On the defensive side of the ball, five players finished the game with double digit tackles for Boonville. Junior linebacker Tyler Peterson led the way with a total of 14 tackles with six solo stops, eight assisted tackles, two tackles for losses, one interception and one fumble recovery.
Senior Jalen Poindexter, meanwhile, had a total of 13 tackles with 10 solo stops, three assisted tackles, one tackle for a loss, one sack and one forced fumble. Tanner Green had seven solo stops and five assisted tackles for a total of 12, while Kelsey Callaway added seven solo stops, four assisted tackles, three tackles for losses and one sack, Jared Oser with five solo stops, six assisted tackles and one tackle for a loss, Jay Barnhart with three tackles for losses, five assisted tackles, one tackle for a loss, one interception and one fumble recovery, Brett Kenney and Kyle Cook each with two solo stops and three assisted tackles, Jordan Bledsoe and Jordan Weaver each with one solo stop and three assisted tackles, Gus Kemp with two solo stops and two interceptions, Brennan Hammers with one solo stop and one assisted tackle, Damario Walker with one solo stop and Nolan Murray with one assisted tackle.
For Marshall, Marc Plummer led the rushing attack with 15 carries for 47 yards while Maupin had 18 carries for 33 yards. Plummer also completed 3 of 13 passes for 85 yards, one of which went for a 62-yard touchdown to Harris.