Any concerns about sputtering starts in games by Hannibal High School were put to rest Friday night in Mexico. The Pirates roared out to a 28-0 lead en route to a 41-14 NCMC victory.
Following the game HHS Coach Mark St Clair expressed his satisfaction.
“I’m very pleased with our overall performance,” he said, citing the play of his offense, defense and special teams. “The kids played a good, solid game in all three phases of the game.”
Hannibal took the lead on its first offensive play of the game. Starting at the Mexico 40 following a Bulldog punt, Mitch Nichols raced 60 yards for a touchdown. With the first of four Caleb Bieniek point-after kicks, Hannibal was up 7-0 at 11:07.
“We had done quite a bit of film study and research, and it worked out that way (scoring on the first play). I have to give credit to the kids for their execution,” said St Clair.
The next HHS scoring drive started after a Justin Price interception at the home team’s 30. Three plays later the Pirates reached the end zone on an 18-yard pass from Dalton Powell to Lijah Harrison. With 3:38 to go in the first quarter, Hannibal led 14-0.
Hannibal ran its lead to 21-0 early in the second quarter on a 5-yard run by Nichols, who rushed for over 100 yards in the opening half. A big play on the drive was a 21-yard aerial from Powell to Trevor Anderson, which put the ball at the MHS 9.
It appeared the drive had stalled as the Pirates lined up for a 26-yard field goal on fourth down. However, instead of kicking, Bieniek wound up passing into the end zone. While the ball fell incomplete, a pass interference penalty gave Hannibal a first down at the 5. The score came on the very next play.
Hannibal wrapped up its first-half scoring with 8:10 left. The score came on an 18-yard dash by Jahwaun Cassidy.
Mexico’s best drive of the first half came on its last possession as the Bulldogs pushed the ball inside the HHS 25 before being repelled.
“The Mexico kids played hard,” said St Clair. “They made us throw the ball in the first half.”
As was the case in the first half, Hannibal wasted no time scoring in the third quarter. Following a 33-yard kickoff return by Bieniek, Powell broke free for a 42-yard touchdown run.
What proved to be Hannibal’s final score of the night came with 3:02 left in the third as Cassidy went in from 2 yards out.
Mexico added single scores in both the third and fourth quarters. A 24-yard pass from Matt Ridgway to Skylar Harrington gave the Dogs six points at 5:15 of the third. Ridgway ran in from 8 yards out with 1:17 remaining.
Page 2 of 2 - Hannibal, 4-0, hosts Kirksville on Friday, Sept. 21. The game will be Senior Night for the Pirates.