Boonville Pirates football coach Devin Brown had two choices after watching his team drop its third straight game Friday night at home against the Hannibal Pirates 35-7.
Brown could look at Friday’s game as another loss, or he could look at the way his team played Class 4 Hannibal to a 14-7 ballgame for the first 24 minutes.
While referring to the first-three games as a “gauntlet” last week after the loss on the road against the Higginsville Huskers, Brown and the Pirates should get a little reprieve this week during Homecoming against the Knob Noster Panthers. The Panthers dropped to 1-2 on the season by losing to Kansas City O’Hara 42-14.
As for the game against Hannibal, Brown said his team has to find a way to play four quarters of football. After playing what he called a quarter and a half in Week 2 against Higginsville, Brown said the Pirates played just two quarters against Hannibal.
“We didn’t play the first quarter really in the first game and then last week against Higginsville we played a quarter and a half,” Brown said. “This week we played two quarters, so now we have to play four quarters. After seeing what we could do in the first half against Hannibal you want to come back out and play tomorrow and see what we got, but we have a couple of injuries so we’ll have to get healed up.”
Although Brown admitted that there were several positives in the first half against the visiting Pirates, he said he was also discouraged about the second half in the way they came out and laid down a little bit. “A lot really,” Brown said. “We have to play four quarters and cut down on our silly turnovers. I thought we had too many, again.”
Although the scoreboard read 14-7 Hannibal at the half, Brown said it could have easily been 7-7 or 14-14. While Boonville finished with 30 more yards at the half than Hannibal, 162-132, they also had one interception account for one of two Pirate touchdowns in the first half.
The first touchdown by Hannibal was earned as the Pirates drove the ball 85 yards on 13 plays for the score with 4:33 left in the opening quarter. The 14-yard run by junior Wyatt King made it 7-0.
As for the second touchdown, the Pirates got a gift from Boonville when Hannibal’s Jerry McBride stepped in front of a Jacob Francis pass and ran it back 53 yards for the score with 3:14 remaining to make it 14-0.
The Pirates, as in Boonville, played pretty well after that while forcing two Hannibal punts. Meanwhile, after taking over at their own 30-yard line with 9:12 left in the half, Boonville showed its quick-strike capability when Francis hit junior Austin Hulbert down the sideline on a 70-yard scoring strike to cut the lead in half at 14-7.
Of course thoughts of 2011 were slowly creeping into the minds of the players and coaches alike when Boonville erased a 7-0 deficit at Hannibal for a 20-14 victory. That season the Pirates won 10 games in a row to finish 10-2.
Boonville also had more passing yards than rushing yards in the first half against Hannibal, 141-21. As for Hannibal, they were just the opposite with 96 yards rushing and only 36 passing.
Nonetheless, the Pirates had withstood Hannibal’s best effort in the first half while trailing by just a touchdown.
But that would all change in the third quarter on one play, according to Brown. Facing a fourth and 2 from Boonville’s 28-yard line, Hannibal quarterback Lijah Harrison bobbled the ball for a split second and then raced all the way down to the Pirates 7 for a first down. Three plays later, King hit paydirt for the second time in the ballgame from the Boonville 1 to extend the lead to 21-7 with 8:24 left.
“That was huge,” Brown said. “We gave that up and then turnaround and fumble and give it back.”
The fumble Brown is referring to came on Boonville’s next possession from its own 37. In a make or break drive for the Pirates, Boonville literally handed Hannibal the game after that when sophomore Dylan Powell caught a fumble in mid-air by sophomore Ezra Perry and ran untouched to the end zone for a touchdown to make it 28-7 with 8:12 left.
In a span of 12 seconds, Boonville went from trailing by two touchdowns with an outside shot to trail by three scores with little or no chance.
It got worse, though. After another four and out by Boonville, Hannibal came back and hit paydirt for a fifth time on a 45-yard run by senior running back Mitchell Nichols to extend the lead to 35-7 with 4:21 still left in the third.
The Pirates didn’t go down without a fight while moving the ball all the way down to the Hannibal 20 on a 9-play drive before turning it back over to the Pirates on downs. Then, after Hannibal moved the ball to the 50 on a 8-play drive, Francis came up with an interception at the Boonville 27 with 10:30 left in the game.
Unfortunately for the Pirates, they were forced to punt again after running just six plays. That also turned out to be the final time Boonville would touch the ball as Hannibal came back and ran 17 plays while moving the ball down to the Pirates 20 before taking a knee to end the game.
The final game stats also paint a different picture than the first half. While being out-gained 162-132 in the first half, Hannibal came back to finish the game with 291 rushing yards and 36 passing for a total of 327. As for Boonville, they had only 36 yards rushing total and 141 passing for a total of  of 177, which is only a gain of 15 yards from the first half.
Hannibal also had 18 first downs compared to just eight for Boonville.
As for individual stats, Mitchell Nichols had 18 carries for 110 yards and one touchdown while Wyatt King rushed 10 times for 59 yards and two scores.
As for Boonville, Austin Henderson finished the game with nine carries for 39 yards. Jacob Francis, meanwhile, completed 12 of 29 passes for 141 yards with one interception and one touchdown.
Austin Hulbert was on the receiving end on four of those passes for 96 yards while Josh Judd had seven catches for 88 yards and Tyler Peterson one catch for 4 yards.
On the defensive side of the ball for Boonville, Peterson led the Pirates for the third week in a row with 19 solo stops and four assisted tackles for a total of 23. Peterson also recovered a fumble and caused one fumble.
Andrew Broyhill, meanwhile, finished the game with nine solo stops and four assisted tackles for a total of 13. Jordan Weaver had five solo stops and five assisted tackles while Austin Henderson had six solos and three assisted, Grady Kay five solos and two assisted, Austin Hulbert and Brenden Meyer each with four solos and two assisted, Tim Price with two solos and four assisted, Tyler Polk with two solos and one assisted, Josh Judd with one solo stop and two assisted, Jacob Francis with two solos and one interception, Nolan Murray with two solos and Remington Hammers with one solo and one assisted.
The Boonville Pirates football team will host the Knob Noster Panthers this coming Friday night at the BHS Sports Complex starting at 7 p.m.