KIRKSVILLE, Mo. -- All things considered, the Chillicothe High School football Hornets probably should have quit while they were ahead Friday night, not that they had that option. Of course, they weren't ahead very long.
The Hornets hit for a 58-yard touchdown pass on the game's first play from scrimmage, but fell behind the host Kirksville Tigers 8-6 before the game was two minutes old and eventually lost 26-6 on a rain-drenched night at Spainhower Field.
After Kirksville was flagged – the first of more than two dozen enforced infractions in the contest – for encroachment as the Hornets prepared for their first snap, Zach Alperin slipped past a pair of KHS defensive backs to gather in Tyler Clampitt's on-target throw at about the Tigers' 32 and won the race to the end zone to give Chillicothe a lead 15 seconds into its first road game of 2012.
However, after being unable to successfully convert the extra-point, the Hornets saw Kirksville respond quickly. Halfback Scott Schwend burst free on a delay play for a 42-yard touchdown run and the Tigers' 2-point run by Makenna Cook from the "swinging gate" formation broke the tie and gave the home team the lead for good.
The score stayed there until the third quarter was just over four minutes old when, following a low Chillicothe punt snap that led to an abortive run and Kirksville taking possession inside the CHS 15, an 11-yard Mitch Kriegshauser pass to Chris Tenpenny turned that break into a 14-6 margin.
Later in the third quarter came the backbreaker for CHS' Hornets. Clampitt's ill-advised, off-balance long throw to the left hung in the air until Kirksville safety Blake Riley jumped in front of the intended receiver at the KHS 21, intercepted the ball, and ran it back all the way to make it 20-6.
A fourth-quarter Kriegshauser-Tenpenny connection from five yards out capped the scoring.
Chillicothe unofficially finished with six turnovers – five lost fumbles and the pick-6 – in the game and had a handful or more other occasions when the center-quarterback exchange of the wet pigskin left the ball on the ground, only to be covered by a Hornet.
With the defeat, Chillicothe (0-2) opens a season with back-to-back losses for the first time in 29 years. The Hornets will have a monumental task facing them in trying to avoid losing a third-straight time next Friday as they visit Midland Empire Conference preseason favorite Maryville.
Kirksville improved to 2-0.