After surviving the so called “gauntlet” against California, Higginsville and Hannibal to start the season, the Boonville Pirates football team finally had a game they were favored to win Friday night at the BHS Sports Complex.
After going 0-3 last year and then winning six out of their last eight ballgames to finish 6-5, the Pirates appear to be headed down that path again this season after beating the Knob Noster Panthers on Homecoming 34-3.
While finishing the game with 191 yards rushing and 133 passing for a total of 324, the Pirates also held Knob Noster without a touchdown for 48 minutes.
But more importantly, Boonville finally tasted success for the first time in four ballgames while improving to 1-3 overall.
Of course Friday night’s ballgame on the road against the Mexico Bulldogs could be a little tougher for the Pirates. While both teams enter the game at 1-3 overall, the Bulldogs are coming off a heartbreaking loss on the road in Week 3 against the Hannibal Pirates 21-20.
Boonville Pirates football coach Devin Brown said the win over Knob Noster is definitely a step in the right direction.
“That first win is always important, but now we have to get some more. I thought we got closer to playing four quarters. We probably played 3-3 1/2 tonight. In the first quarter I thought they were hitting us instead of us hitting them, so we still have to dangle that over them and make sure they are playing four quarters.”
As for the game against Mexico, Brown said it’s another big conference game. Of course don’t let Brown’s words fool you. It’s more than just a big conference game, Brown returns to the place he once coached before taking the Boonville job. Since that time, the Pirates are 2-0 against the Bulldogs with a 26-0 win in 2012 and a 18-12 victory in 2011.
“We have to go there and be ready to play,” Brown said. “They are going to be ready. They are better this year obviously, so we have to be ready to play.”
With Homecoming festivities all week long, Brown isn’t convinced that his team came out ready to play Friday night against the Panthers.
While playing to a 0-0 tie after the first 12 minutes of the ballgame, the Panthers appeared to have the edge over Boonville while forcing the Pirates to punt the ball on their first possession. Knob Noster, meanwhile, looked impressive to say the least on its first possession while running 18 plays before turning the ball back over to Boonville on downs.
Whether that was a wake-up call to the Pirates, they got the message by coming back with a 12-play drive which covered 81 yards. Senior running back Brenden Meyer, who had two touchdowns on the evening on the very same play, capped off the long drive with a 11-yard scamper up the middle to make it 7-0 with 7:54 left in the half.
Page 2 of 4 - The Panthers got a little sloppy with the ball after that while turning the ball over on a fumble at the Boonville 3. Sophomore linebacker Jordan Weaver recovered the pigskin for the Pirates, who initiated another long drive, this time being 97 yards on seven plays. Meyer got his name called again on the very same play he scored earlier in the game with a 8-yard run up the gut with 2:14 remaining in the half.
Although the Pirates fell short on the two-point conversion attempt, they still led Knob Noster by a score of 13-0.
Meyer credited his blocking on the two touchdowns.
“The line blocked great, the fullback came up and blocked great and the hand off from Jacob was beautiful,” Meyer said. “After the first-three games we weren’t blocking quite as well but we came back tonight and knocked it out of the park.”
Meyer said it was also great getting the win. “Coming off last year and going 0-3 we knew what to expect so we were wanting that Homecoming win tonight.”
Brown said it was also nice to see Meyer carry the ball after the injuries the Pirates have had at running back to start the season. “We needed to find out who is going to be the guy that carries the ball,” Brown said. “We are getting Dakota Meyer back into it so we are working them around. I thought we had a hangover type thing from Homecoming in the first quarter, though. However when we held them out on that drive at the 1 I thought we started playing a lot better. This time I thought we also came out and played well in the third quarter and didn’t have a letdown really.”
Although the Panthers closed out with more yardage than Boonville 170-160, they had nothing to show for their efforts while trailing 13-0 at the break.
Senior quarterback Jacob Francis, meanwhile, was almost perfect throwing the ball in the first half while completing 5 of 6 passes for 87 yards. Senior tight end Tyler Peterson, meanwhile, led all receivers for Boonville with 1 catch for 46 yards.
As for Meyer, who accounted for both of Boonville’s touchdowns in the first half, he closed out the first half with six carries for 26 yards and two scores.
The Pirates also found the end zone on three different occasions in the second half, all of which came on interceptions.
What’s funny, though, is that on the first-two intercpetions, Boonville started both possessions at the Knob Noster 44. Senior Dakota Meyer had the first pick while Josh Judd picked up Knob Noster’s quarterback on the final two.
Nonetheless, the Pirates took advantage of the short field and scored seven plays later on a 19-yard pass from quarterback Jacob Francis to Austin Hulbert to extend the lead to 19-0 with 7:12 left in the third quarter.
Page 3 of 4 - Meyer then found the end zone on the two-point conversion to make it 21-0.
The Panthers, meanwhile, ran eight plays on their next possession before giving it up on an interception at their own 44. Five plays later after moving the ball down to the Knob Noster 5, Francis picked up his first rushing touchdown of the season with 3:18 left to go up 28-0.
Francis, who was also selected as the Homecoming King during halftime festivities, said more than anything the offense as a whole was in-sync against Knob Noster. “We were all doing our jobs correctly at the same time,” Francis said. “We were just playing as a team and that’s what we need to do from here on out.”
Of course Francis was also hoping for the shutout against the Panthers.
“Defensively, we didn’t play as good as we wanted to but we are definitely going to step that up,” he said. It felt great to get the win, though. I am honored to be nominated and selected as Homecoming king. It was just a nice way to cap off the evening.”
The Pirates still had a little football to play after going up 28-0 with 3:18 left in the third.
Although the Panthers had several chances to score in the game against Boonville, they finally got on the board at the 10:13 mark in the fourth quarter when junior Kyle Thomas split the uprights on a 26-yard field goal.
The Pirates ruined Knob Noster’s party after that when Judd picked up his second interception of the game at the Panthers 44 with 6:31 left in the game. Six plays later after moving the ball down to the Knob Noster 12, Meyer scored his first touchdown of the season with 4:40 left to extend the lead to 34-3.
Brown said he thought the key to the game was keeping Knob Noster from scoring obviously and the Pirates putting the ball in the end zone. “The defense held them out and the offense finally moved the ball,” Brown said.
The Pirates also kept Knob Noster out of the end zone on its final drive of the ballgame, which ended at the Boonville 7-yard line as time ran out.
For the game, Knob Noster had 16 first downs compared to just 13 for Boonville. However while finishing with over 300 yards in total offense, the Pirates held Knob Noster to 229 yards for the game.
On an individual note, Meyer finished the game with 10 carries for 78 yards and two touchdowns while Francis had seven carries for 64 yards and one score, Meyer with five carries for 26 yards and one score and Austin Henderson with four carries for 23 yards.
Francis, meanwhile, closed out the game completing 8 of 11 passes for 133 yards and one touchdown.
Page 4 of 4 - Hulbert was the leading receiver with five catches for 63 yards and one touchdown while Peterson had 1 catch for 46 yards and Judd with two catches for 25 yards.
On the defensive side of the football, senior linebacker Tyler Peterson had a total of 23 tackles with 14 solo stops and nine assisted tackles. He also had two hurries.
Jordan Weaver finished the game with four solo stops, five assisted tackles and one fumble recovery while Nolan Murray added four solo stops and five assisted tackles, Dakota Meyer with three solo stops, six assisted tackles and one interception, Andrew Broyhill with five solo stops and three assisted tackles, Austin Henderson with four solo stops and four assisted tackles, Austin Hulbert with five solo stops and two assisted tackles, Grady Kay with three solo stops and four assisted tackles, Brenden Meyer with three solo stops and three assisted tackles, Josh Judd with five solo stops and two interceptions, Remington Hammers with one solo stop and two assisted tackles, Andreas Boykin with one solo stop and one assisted tackle, Tyler Polk with two assisted tackles, Jacob Francis, Greg Harris and Lucas Gerke each with one solo stop and Andrew Garrison with one assisted tackle.