Boonville Pirates football coach Greg Hough knew what was at stake Friday night against Southern Boone.
Win on the road against the Eagles and the Pirates secure the No. 3 seed in the district and finish third in the Tri-County Conference.
Unfortunately after taking a 14-0 lead early in the second quarter, Boonville would find the end zone only one more time for the rest of the game in a 32-21 loss to the Eagles.
The loss dropped Boonville to 6-3 overall and 4-3 in the conference while Southern Boonville improved to 7-2 overall and 5-2 in league play.
“Once we fell behind we struggled,” Hough said. “Southern Boone’s players really stepped up, though. Their quarterback made some good plays, but it’s also a game of inches. I guess the best way to say it is that when you are bleeding a little bit, you try to find ways to stop the bleeding and we just can’t get it stopped right now.”
The Pirates appeared to have the bleeding stopped early on. While holding Southern Boone scoreless for the first 12 minutes, Boonville hit paydirt on back to back possessions in the first quarter-the first coming on a 67-yard run by senior Avian Thomas to make it 7-0 with 3:43 left. Then, after the Pirates blocked a Southern Boone punt on the Eagles third possession at their own 33, Thomas scored his second touchdown of the ball game on a 18 yard run with 11:07 left in the half to extend the lead to 14-0.
That’s when Southern Boone running back Tristan John and senior quarterback Tyson Smith took over for the Eagles. On Southern Boone’s next series from its own 37, the Eagles put together a 14 play drive and hit paydirt on a 6-yard pass from Smith to John to cut the lead in half at 14-7. Then, after forcing Boonville to punt on its next drive, the Eagles struck again on a five play, 60-yard drive. Smith scored on a 1-yard run to tie the game at 14-all with 1:06 left in the half.
Boonville junior linebacker Harper Stock said the Pirates came out hot in the first quarter. “I thought we played a really good game in the first quarter but the second half we weren’t playing on the level we were playing early on,” Stock said. “We kind of thought that we had the game given to us in the first quarter and then it all went down hill from there because everybody thought it wasn’t going to be that bad, so we kind of quit playing as a team.”
That played right into Southern Boone’s hands.
But even then the Pirates came out and scored on their opening drive of the second half after a 54-yard burst by Thomas. The touchdown was Thomas' third of the game and put Boonville up 21-14 with 9:02 left.
However, on Southern Boone’s first possession of the second half, the Eagles responded with a nine play, 63 yard drive for the score on a 3 yard run by John to cut the lead to 21-20.
Boonville blocked the extra point to maintain a one-point lead.
That also turned out to be the last lead in the game for the Pirates as Southern Boone hit paydirt two mores times and took its first lead at the 1:12 mark in the third on a 56-yard pass from Smith to junior receiver Blake Dapkus to make it 26-21.
The Eagles would score again after holding Boonville on downs on its next possession when Smith found sophomore Tate John all alone in the corner of the end zone with 7:35 left in the game to extend the lead to 32-21.
The Pirates never got any closer in the ball game as Southern Boone held Boonville on downs on its next-two possessions.
“I said it a couple of weeks ago that when you play these better teams, it’s a chess game instead of a checkers game and right now we are not playing very good chess,” Hough said. “It’s disappointing and it’s tough. We can’t pass protect and we can’t get open and that’s just not us. We have to get better defensively to help us offensively and we have to get better offensively to help us defensively so it’s a team game.”
Boonville finished the game with eight first downs along with 206 yards rushing and 38 passing for a total of 244. Southern Boone, meanwhile, had 16 first downs along with 247 yards rushing and 189 passing for a total of 436.
Thomas led all rushers for Boonville with 24 carries for 205 yards and three touchdowns along with one catch for 11 yards. Tramell Coleman had 10 carries for 3 yards and four catches for 18 yards. Senior quarterback Nick Ferrari, meanwhile, completed 6 of 9 passes for 38 yards. Colby Caton had one catch for 9 yards.
On defense, Stock finished the game with 13 total tackles, two tackles for loss and one sack. Lane West had 11 tackles, two tackles for loss, two sacks and one blocked punt, followed by Josh Polk with 10 tackles, and two tackles for loss, Tramell Coleman nine tackles, DJ Wesolak six tackles, Nathan Platt five tackles, Avian Thomas three tackles, Greyson Mesik two tackles and one tackle for loss and Colby Caton, Peyton Keeran and Alan McCarter each with two tackles.