Improve to 5-4 overall and 3-3 in the conference
After finishing the regular season at 4-0 on the road, Boonville Pirates football coach Barry Blank had the perfect nickname for his team after beating the Marshall Owls 36-22 Friday night in Marshall.
Blank said the Pirates started giving themselves the nickname “Road Warriors”. However, the third-year skipper would like to make that one more win on the road in the district playoffs, which begin this coming Friday night.
The Pirates, 5-4 overall and 3-3 in the NCMC, will travel to Pleasant Hill, 3-6, for the opening round of the Class 3 District 7 playoffs on Friday starting at 7 p.m.
While entering the game three points behind the Roosters, Boonville needed to win by 13 points and have Pleasant Hill lose by 13. The Roosters fell to Excelsior Springs 28-14 but remained in the No. 4 spot with 32.68 points. The Pirates finished as the No. 5 seed with 32.65 points.
As for the game against Marshall, Blank said he thought his team played about as good as they could play in the first half. “We were putting together drives, I thought we were getting stops and we held them to three points,” Blank said. “It was a really crisp, efficient first half. Now, the third quarter that is something we have to work on. We have to improve there but it’s like I told our kids, it’s like the old thoroughbred, we will finish strong but we have to find those middle parts of the game where we have to play well.”
While struggling in every facet of the game last week against Moberly, the Pirates looked to be an entirely different team on the field against Marshall.
As for the third quarter, that’s a different story as the Owls put up 13 points in a matter of 35 seconds.
Nonetheless, the Pirates opened the game with 17 straight points with the first score coming at the 8:58 mark in the first quarter on a 3-yard run by senior quarterback Kole Ficken to make it 7-0.
Then, after forcing the Owls on a three and out on their first series, Boonville came back and hit paydirt again on just one play on a 65 yard run by Ficken to extend the lead to 14-0 with 7:46 left.
The Pirates weren’t done, though. On Marshall’s next possession, which started at its own 37, Boonville again stopped the Owls dead in their tracks when Ficken picked off a pass at the Marshall 41. Seven plays later after moving the ball to the Owls 4, senior kicker Thomas Simmons split the uprights on a 21-yard field goal to push the lead to 17-0 with 2:12 remaining.
Marshall came back with a 35 yard field goal with 25 seconds left to make it 17-3. However after taking over on the ensuing kick off at their own 40, the Pirates hit paydirt two plays later on a 50 yard pass from Ficken to senior wide receiver Adam Edler to give the Pirates a 23-3 lead at the half.
Boonville would catch another break when sophomore Tramell Coleman picked off a pass from the Marshall quarterback and ran it back 58 yards to the Owls 15. Simmons split the uprights for his second field goal of the game from 32 yards out to make it 26-3.
Boonville also finished the first half with 295 total yards while holding Marshall to only 104 yards. The Pirates also held the Owls to negative one yard rushing.
Of course the game was far from being over at that point. The Owls proved that in the third quarter by opening the second half with a 67 yard run on the opening kick off by junior Duffin Makings. Then, after kicking off to the Pirates at their own 20, Marshall struck again when Makings picked off a Kole Ficken pass and ran it in for a touchdown from 25 yards out with 11:35 left to cut the lead to 10 at 26-16.
The Owls never got any closer in the ballgame as Boonville came back with a 45 yard field goal by Simmons, the longest of his career and a school record, with 4:38 remaining in the third quarter to extend the lead to 29-16.
Simmons’ three field goals in one game also puts him in the state record books, where he is tied for fourth with 16 other kickers.
Simmons said at first he thought it was short.
“I thought it came up a good five yards short but I guess it was just a little hope and prayer,” Simmons said. “That’s why I didn’t celebrate until I saw it go through. I didn’t think it had a chance at first because the laces were facing me (Dan Marino) and I tried to take it out of my mind in my steps but I trusted Jaylen (Butner) for what he was doing and I finally got it through and it felt great.
“But honestly I actually thought we had a chance when Coach Blank called for a field goal. I thought we had a shot in that direction because we had the wind and if we didn’t make it I knew at least I could get it to the end zone for a touchback. However making it was just icing on the cake.”
Marshall turned the ball over again on its next two possessions-the first on an interception by sophomore Josh Polk with 1:42 left in the third. Then, at the 10:32 mark in the fourth, junior Brandon Johnson recovered a fumble at the Owls 40.
Boonville scored four plays later on a 34 yard pass from Ficken to Johnson with 8:06 left to extend the lead to 36-16.
On the pass from Ficken, Johnson said he knew he was wide open and that he had to catch it because everybody had blocked and executed the play to perfection.
“This was also my first touchdown of the season so it was a nice way to end the regular season,” Johnson said. “As for the game, we came out fast but after halftime we were a little slow to start but coach said he liked how we finished the game in the fourth.”
Marshall added a little more drama to the end of the game by hitting paydirt again on a 1-yard run by senior quarterback John Haug to cut the lead to 14 at 36-22. The Owls attempted a two-point conversion but were denied when Edler knocked the pass down in the corner of the end zone.
Marshall never got any closer to the end zone as the Pirates held on downs on the Owls next possession at their own 10.
Boonville finished the game with 242 yards rushing and 140 passing for a total of 382. The Pirates also had 11 first downs in the game.
As for Marshall, they had 11 first downs along with minus 1 yard rushing and 252 yards passing for a total of 251.
Ficken had another big night for the Pirates with 15 carries for 133 yards and two touchdowns while completing 7 of 8 passes for 140 yards and two touchdowns. He also threw one pick.
Brandon Johnson was the leading receiver with three catches for 67 yards and one touchdown. Edler had one catch for 50 yards and one score.
Johnson also led the team in tackles for Boonville with nine. He also tied Ficken for most tackles for losses with two.
Polk finished the game with eight total tackles, followed by Weaver with five, Carson Campbell and Tramell Coleman each with four, Ficken and Ben Horst each with three, Gabe Rumbaoa, Samuel Wiser and Dalton Elder with two each and Dylan Watson and Jaylen Butner with one tackle apiece.
Rumbaoa also had one tackle for a loss. Ficken, Coleman and Polk each had one interception while Johnson added one fumnble recovery and one caused fumble. Watson was also credited with one blocked field goal.
For Marshall, Haug completed 13 of 20 passes for 154 yards and two interceptions. Junior receiver Jaylen Varner, meanwhile, had five catches for 131 yards to lead the Owls.