The Boonville Pirates football team had only one last gasp while trailing the Fulton Hornets 39-36 Friday night in NCMC action at Fulton.
While battling back and forth for nearly 3 1/2 quarters of play, the Pirates had one last chance with the ball at their own 34 with 27 seconds left in the game.
But after three straight completions of 8, 11 and 9 yards to the Fulton 36-yard line, Boonville had just one final play with 4.6 seconds remaining to win the game against Fulton. So on first and 10 from the Fulton 36, senior quarterback Jacob Francis did the only thing he could do while throwing the ball in the end zone in hopes that a Boonville receiver came down with the ball. As it turned out, junior Austin Hulbert appeared to be in the right place at the right time while coming down with the pass from Francis as time expired to give the Pirates a thrilling 42-39 victory.
After the game, Boonville Pirates football coach Devin Brown  said he has never been in anything like that where the last-two minutes there are three touchdowns.
“I have been in shootouts but nothing like that,” Brown said. “When Hulbert caught the ball I knew the game was over. I don’t think the kids quite understood that the game was over but once we came down with it in the back of the end zone I knew it was over. This was a good win, especially after last week’s loss against Kirksville.”
As for Hulbert, he said he was mad from the touchdown he gave up before that because that was his man.
“I should have had him,” Hulbert said. “It was a pretty tough game, though. We came out hard in the first half and played pretty good and then in the second half they caught back up with us. However, we showed heart and kept playing and won the game.”
On the final drive, Hulbert said the Pirates were in a no huddle and were told to get out of bounds when they caught the ball. Then, on the final play, he said the ball was supposed to go to Judd but instead came to him and he caught it.
“I was just hoping to catch the dang thing and not drop it,” Hulbert said. “I was happy we won the game and didn’t lose.”
With over 800 yards in total offense for the game and 33 first downs, the Hornets came out and wasted little time getting on the scoreboard while hitting paydirt on the game’s first play on a 76-yard scoring strike from quarterback Joe Schlemeier to Dalton Horstmeier to put Fulton on top 7-0 with 11:41 left.
Meanwhile, after exchanging possessions on their next drives, the Pirates came back to tie the game at 7-all on a five-play, 66-yard drive capped off by a 2-yard run by senior running back Dakota Meyer.
The Hornets then came up with the game’s first turnover of the ballgame on an interception at the Boonville 24. Five plays later, Fulton split the uprights on a 23-yard field goal to extend the lead to 10-7 with 2:14 left in the first.
That’s how the game remained until the 6:20 mark in the first half when sophomore running back Jordan Weaver found a hole in the middle and raced 83 yards for the touchdown to give the Pirates the lead at the half by a score of 14-10.
While finishing the game with 12 carries for 143 yards and one touchdown in the game, Weaver said he couldn’t have had the touchdown if it wasn’t for Dakota Meyer.
“Once I got the ball it was just grass from there,” Weaver said. “We knew it was going to be a fight so we came out and showed some heart and came out with a victory.”
Weaver said he was on the sideline on the final play of the game but said it was a heck of a play, a heck of a throw and a heck of a grab.”
Although the Pirates led by just four at the half, they pretty much dominated on paper with 174 yards rushing and 55 passing for a total of 229. Fulton, meanwhile, had only 29 yards rushing and another 117 passing for a total of 146.
The first half also featured a 15-minute delay when one bank of lights went out at the 4:43 mark in the first quarter.
As for the second half, it was pretty much a carbon copy of the first as the Pirates took the opening kick off and scored after running only three plays. The 53-yard pass from Francis to Hulbert extended the lead to 21-10 with 10:47 left in the third.
However, after taking the ball all the way down to the Boonville 7 on the insuing kick off, the Hornets came back three plays later with a score on a 3-yard run by Kegan Lee to cut the lead to 21-16 with 9:25 remaining.
The Pirates came right back after that by moving the ball eight plays down to the Fulton 8-yard line. But after failing to pick up the first down, Boonville had to settle for a 25-yard field goal by junior Josh Judd with 6:00 left in the third.
Fulton then came back with a 11-play drive which covered 58 yards. The 10-yard run by Travis Dean with 37 seconds left in the third cut the lead to 24-22. Fulton coach Pat Kelley then elected to go for two, which turned out to be the right call as Dean crossed the goal line again to tie the game at 24-24.
Both teams then struggled to do anything on their next-two possessions. Meanwhile, after taking over at the Fulton 44 with 6:33 left, the Pirates used only three plays to get the score when Francis hooked up with Hulbert on a 37-yard pass to go up 30-24. However, on the extra point attempt, Judd hit the left upright to leave the door open for the Hornets.
As it turned out, Fulton came right back on its next possession and took only six plays to get the touchdown after a 4-yard run by Kegan Lee. The Hornets then split the uprights on the PAT to regain the lead at 31-30 with 3:11 remaining.
But even that was short-lived as the Pirates struck again on a six-play drive when Francis hit senior tight end Tyler Peterson on a 24-yard scoring strike with 1:50 left to make it 36-31.
Boonville failed on the two-point conversion, which opened the door again for Fulton to rally back with a touchdown to grab the lead.
And that is exactly what they did on their next drive by moving the ball 77 yards on 10 plays for the touchdown when Schlemeier hit Chris Tilson across the middle   on a 17-yard scoring strike with 33 seconds remaining to go ahead 39-36.
Unfortunately for the Hornets, the Pirates had the final possessions which proved to be the difference on a Hail Mary pass from Francis to Hulbert with no time left for the victory.
Boonville, improving to 3-4 overall and 2-2 in the NCMC, finished the game with 241 yards rushing and another 297 passing for a total of 538. Fulton, meanwhile, had 113 yards on the ground and another 278 in the air for a total of 391.
On an individual note for the Pirates, Weaver had 12 carries for 143 yards and one touchdown while Francis rushed 11 times for 51 yards and Dakota Meyer 12 times for 47 yards and one score.
Francis also completed 19 of 31 passes for 297 yards with one interception and four touchdowns.
As for receiving yards in the game for Boonville, Hulbert had a career night with 11 catches for 207 yards and three scores while Peterson finished the game with five catches for 60 yards and one touchdown, Josh Judd two catches for 19 yards and Nick Zeitlow with one catch for 11 yards.
On the defensive side of the football for Boonville, Tyler Peterson had 11 solo stops and four assisted tackles for a total of 15.
Jordan Weaver finished the game with six solo stops and six assisted tackles while Austin Hulbert and Andrew Broyhill added six solo stops and four assisted tackles each, Grady Kay with four solos and five assisted, Dakota Meyer with four solos and one assisted, Tim Price with three solos and one assisted, Nolan Murray with one solo and three assisted, Nick Zeitlow with two solos and one assisted, Josh Judd with one solo and two assisted, Tyler Polk and Ryder Mesik with one solo and one assisted tackle each and Jacob Francis and Brett Kenney each with one solo stop.
Kenney and Murray also had one sack each while Kay finished the game with one caused fumble.
For Fulton, Kegan Lee had 13 carries for 51 yards and two scores while Travis Dean added 13 touches for 44 yards and one touchdown.
Schlemeier, meanwhile, completed 18 of 27 passes for 278 yards and two touchdowns.
Dalton Horstmeier was on the receiving in on four of those passes from Schlemeier for 128 yards and one touchdown. Tilson had seven catches for 66 yards and one score while Sam Christensen added two catches for 43 yards.
Kegan Lee and Trenton Clines each had nine tackles in the game to lead the Hornets.