Improve to 4-3 overall and 2-2 in the NCMC
The final minutes of the Boonville-Fulton game had all the makings of being another nailbiter Friday night during Homecoming at Fulton.
While playing to a 22-20 game last year in Boonville, which was won by the Hornets, the game Friday night had all the makings of another late comeback. But who knew the comeback would be by the Pirates, who trailed by as much as 10 at 24-20 with 2:56 left in the third quarter.
Needless to say, the cardiac Pirates once again played the role of spoiler on somebody elses Homecoming by rallying with a 6-play, 62 yard drive in the final three minutes and 40 seconds to beat Fulton 28-24.
Although this win probably ranks second between the two schools as the Pirates won on a Hail Mary pass in 2013 at Fulton 42-39, head coach Barry Blank said it’s still nice to get the win on the road.
“There are a lot of good teams in this conference,” Blank said. “I think I have said that since August. You are going to be in a battle every week in this conference. I thought we came out and started fast but then we lost some momentum when they got that kick off return on us a little bit. However, I like how we finished. That was really good tonight.”
If Blank liked how the Pirates finished, he was probably ecstatic about the start as well as Boonville jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter.
Of course the game also had plenty of highs and lows. For Fulton it started with a 93-yard kick off return for a touchdown that was brought back due to a block in the back. The Hornets were also stopped dead in their tracks on a fourth and four at the Boonville 41.
As for the Pirates, they made good on a 11-play, 59-yard drive for the score, which was capped off on a 2-yard run by senior quarterback Kole Ficken to make it 7-0.
Ficken would hear his name called again minutes later, this time on a 52-yard run to extend the lead to 14-0. The four play, 65-yard drive all came on the ground and put Boonville up by two touchdowns with 1:05 left in the opening quarter.
However it only took a matter of seconds for the Hornets to rain on Boonville’s parade when senior Nazir McClain took it to the house on a 81-yard run on the ensuing kickoff to cut the lead in half at 14-7 with 48 seconds left.
With a total of 21 points scored in the first 12 minutes the two teams settled down somewhat in the second quarter with Fulton’s Jacob Kern kicking a 23-yard field goal for the only points of the period to make it 14-10.
In the first half, the Pirates finished with two touchdowns but all had one punt and one turnover on downs. As for Fulton, they had just one touchdown and one field goal along with two punts and one turnover on downs.
Boonville also dominated the first half stats against Fulton with nine first downs, 160 yards rushing and 19 passing for a total of 179. As for Fulton, they had only three first downs along with 22 yards rushing and 65 passing for a total of 87.
Ficken was both the leading rusher and passer in the first half for Boonville by completing 2 of 5 passes for 19 yards and rushing 13 times for 85 yards and two scores.
But that mattered little to Fulton in the third quarter as the Hornets took its first lead at the 5:40 mark on a pass from senior quarterback Cameron Vaughn to senior Tre Vaughn in the corner of the end zone to go up 17-14. Fulton also scored on its second possession on a 2-yard run by McClain, which started from the Boonville 47 and took just three plays.
Boonville, meanwhile, struggled offensively early on in the second half with two punts on its first-two possessions. The Pirates also had a 11 play drive stopped short on fourth and sixth at the Fulton 28.
While giving up 24 unanswered points after leading by a score of 14-0, the Pirates also found itself down by 10 with a little over seven minutes in the ballgame. But after forcing a punt by Fulton with 8:20 left, Boonville moved the ball down field on a six play, 71 yard drive for the score with 5:26 remaining to cut the lead to three at 24-21.
The 37 yard run by Ficken was his third touchdown of the ballgame but ended on a dive right at the pylon with a Fulton player right on his heels.
Ficken said he knew he had two Fulton players coming right at him from the right but didn’t know if there was anybody behind him.
“I was trying to run and not look behind me,” Ficken said. “They were either going to push me out of bounds or I was going to get to the pylon. I dove and got the pylon.”
Three minutes later after an onside kick recovered by sophomore Josh Polk, a Boonville fumble and a Fulton punt, the Pirates began their march from their own 38 with 3:40 left. Six plays later, Boonville found itself looking at a fourth and seven at its own 47. However after being forced right by a Fulton player, Ficken found senior Jaylen Butner wide open behind the defense for a 53 yard touchdown to give the Pirates the lead back at 28-24 with 1:41 left.
Blank said first of all the onside kick wasn’t planned that way nor was the pass from Ficken to Butner.
“The last touchdown was huge,” Blank said. “It was a broken play to be honest but Jaylen just kept working to the ball and he found it and made a great play.
Ficken said the play was designed to go to Adam Edler on a slant pattern over the middle but then he got tangled up with the safeties. “I knew Jaylen had a slant on the opposite side but I couldn’t see him and then I finally got a glimpse of him waving his hands over behind the defense so I just kissed it and chucked it up there and hope he caught it. He put his whole heart into that play and I couldn’t be any happier.”
Butner also gave his take on the touchdown. “We knew they were getting tired in the fourth quarter and were all antsy about the run more than the pass and I just slid behind their secondary,” Butner said. “It was new to me seeing the end zone so I was excited. For a second I thought it was a dream but I made it a reality.”
The Hornets still had plenty of time for the comeback victory but after facing a fourth and 16 from their own 34, but Boonville stopped Fulton short of the first down after a hook and ladder to preserve the victory.
Boonville finished the game with 16 first downs along with 310 yards rushing and 80 passing for a total of 390. As for Fulton, they had eight first downs along with 71 yards rushing and 133 passing for a total of 204.
Ficken also had his best game to date for the Pirates with 21 carries for 136 yards and three touchdowns while completing 4 of 11 passes for 80 yards and one score.
Butner was the leading receiver with one catch for 53 yards and one touchdown.
On defense, Brandon Johnson and Ben Eichelberger tied for the team-high in tackles with 10. Peyton Keeran finished the game with seven tackles while Polk, Ficken, Landon Weaver, Ben Horst and Gabe Rumbaoa each had five tackles, Carson Campbell four, Adam Edler two and Dylan Watson, Dalton Williams and Samuel Wiser each with one.
Ficken also had one sack while Rumbaoa had one forced fumble and Polk with one fumble recovery.
For Fulton, Cameron Vaughn rushed 15 times for 37 yards and completed 11 of 19 passes for 133 yards and one touchdown. Senior Makygh Galbreath, meanwhile, was the leading receiver with four catches for 68 yards. Tre Vaughn also had two catches for 52 yards and one touchdown.