The Boonville Pirates football team knows all about facing state-ranked teams this season.
While facing their fourth state-ranked team in five games this season, the Mexico Bulldogs looked and played the part Friday night against the Pirates while scoring seven touchdowns and reeling off over 400 yards in total offense for a 47-0 victory.
Although the rest of the regular season looks good for Boonville, as they have only one winning team for the next-four weeks, head coach Barry Blank said his team will have another tough opponent during Homecoming this Friday night in the Kirksville Tigers. Like Boonville, the Tigers fell Friday night at home against the Hannibal Pirates by a score of 76-0.
While the loss dropped Boonville to 1-4 overall and 0-2 in the NCMC, the Tigers will go into Friday night’s game at 0-5 overall and 0-3 in the conference.
Already looking ahead to Kirksville, Blank said the Tigers are going to be hungry just like Boonville.
“They are in the same boat as us and they have to look at it as a good opportunity but we have to as well,” Blank said. “That’s what we told our kids. It’s our Homecoming and it’s a fun week but it’s about the football game at the end of the day and that’s what we have to teach our kids all through the week that Homecoming is about a football game. It’s not about a parade, it’s not about a dance, it’s about a football game.”
The Pirates definitely had a tough one on their hands Friday night. Although the Bulldogs were coming off a tough loss the week before on the road against the Hannibal Pirates, they showed no signs of a letdown against Boonville while reeling off 27 first-half points.
Of course it didn’t help the Pirates that senior linebacker Karsten Ekern, who was a thorn in their side all night, picked off a pass four plays in and returned it 45 yards for the score with 10:37 to make it 7-0.
Needless to say, the Bulldogs weren’t totally perfect on the night. In the first half alone, Mexico had two fumbles and one interception but also had four touchdowns on runs of 18 and 5 yards by Ekern and a 11-yard run by senior quarterback Spencer Thomas.
As for the Pirates, they struggled again offensively while failing to find the end zone for the third straight game. Boonville’s last offensive touchdown came during the second week of the regular season against the Higginsville Huskers. Senior running back Dalton Bealmer scored on a 50-yard run in the third quarter for the Pirates last touchdown.
Since the game against Higginsville, however, the defense has been opportunistic with a fumble recovery for a touchdown by Ben Eichelberger in Week 3 against Hannibal and then two safeties in Week 4 against Grain Valley.
In the game Friday night against Mexico, the Pirates punted the ball six times on 13 possessions. They also had three fumbles, one interception, one missed field goal attempt from 41 yards and two turn over on downs on two possessions.
The first-half stats were also lop-sided with the Bulldogs racking up over 250 yards in total offense compared to just 42 for Boonville.
Blank said it didn’t help to start the game with a pick six. “We had the interception to start off the game and then we started slow again offensively,” Blank said. “Defensively, I thought we fought in the first and second quarter. Just matching up is tough because you can’t match up on No. 22 (Ekern) because they have Nunnelly and some other guys who can do some good things. We just have to keep fighting. I told the kids afterwards that we still have a lot of football to play. We have to get better each week. There were certain things I thought last week where we got better and there are things we are going to see that we got better this week that isn’t going to show up on the scoreboard.”
Unfortunately for the Pirates, that’s where it counts the most. Nonetheless, Boonville had several positives they can take away from the game such as the three fumble recoveries and one interception.
The Pirates also held Mexico to just a lone touchdown in the third quarter with their starters still on the field.
However, after giving up 27 points in the first half, Boonville turned the ball over two more times in the third quarter. Although the fumble came with 58 seconds left in the quarter, Mexico wouldn’t score until the 11:32 mark in the fourth quarter on a 6-yard run by Avion Williams to make it 40-0.
The Bulldogs’ lone score in the third quarter, meanwhile, came on a 3-yard run by D’Milo Nunnelly with 8:12 left. Mexico led 34-0 after the extra point attempt by Blake James.
In the fourth quarter with the starters on the bench, the Bulldogs hit paydirt again on a 40-yard run by sophomore running back Michael White to extend the lead to 47-0.
In the second half alone, Mexico hit paydirt three times and had one fumble and one turn over on downs. Boonville, meanwhile, punted the ball twice and turned the ball over on fumbles. The Pirates also ended the game with the ball when time ran out.
Although Blank was happy about the turnover swing, he said the offensive line struggled with Mexico up front and then didn’t pick up their blitz schemes very well.
“There were times where we moved the ball early on and then in the third quarter we had some guys hurt,” Blank said. “We were moving guys in and out and we couldn’t get a good rhythm there and that was frustrating. Offensively it’s just about knowing where we are at. We have to block up front, we have to hit the holes when are supposed to hit the holes and we have to catch the ball when we have the ball. We also have to protect to be able to catch the ball.”
For the game, Mexico finished with 22 first downs along with 392 rushing yards and another 56 passing for a total of 448. Boonville, meanwhile, had just five first downs along with 19 yards rushing and 35 passing for a total of 54 yards.
Ekern, meanwhile, led the rushing attack for Mexico with 12 carries for 136 yards and three touchdowns.
For Boonville, Keon Johnson had 14 carries for 30 yards, Junior quarterback Nick Zeitlow, meanwhile, completed 7 of 14 passes for 35 yards with one interception. Johnson also had two catches for 14 yards while Jordan Weaver added two for 16 yards.
On the defensive side of the ball for Boonville, Weston Fahrenbrink and Keandre Anderson each totaled eight tackles.
Jordan Weaver had seven tackles while Dalton Bealmer, Remington, Ben Eichelberger and Tyler Polk each added six tackles and Keon Johnson, Brandon Ford, Kole Ficken, Andrew Garrison and Bryce Fuemmeler with two tackles apiece.