For the first time since the 2010 season, the Hannibal High School football team is the North Central Missouri Conference champions. The Pirates won the NCMC with a perfect 6-0 conference record after beating Marshall 28-8 on the road Friday night.
“They were obviously excited,” Hannibal coach Mark St Clair said. “The thing is they know they still have some work they have to do, but I told them to enjoy it and have the weekend off so we can get mentally and physically ready for next week.”
Hannibal scored quickly in the first half. After Marshall was tagged with a penalty for kicking the ball out of bounds, the Owls were forced to rekick from the 35 and Jahwaun Cassidy took the ball 54 yards before being tackled. Mitch Nichols then gave Hannibal (8-0, 6-0 NCMC) the lead when he busted through the Marshall defense from two yards out.
The game stayed 8-0 for the rest of the first quarter. Marshall tied the game at 8-8 in the second when the Owls scored on a 47 yard pass.
With the game still tied entering the second half, Nichols scored on a 5 yard run to put the Pirates ahead with his second TD of the game. Caleb Bieniek added to the Pirates’ lead with a 14 yard run later in the third. Bieniek scored once more in the fourth quarter to cap off the night’s scoring.
“We made some adjustments at halftime,” St Clair said. “We hit some big passes in the second half and that opened things up. Part of it was Marshall did a great job of controlling the ball in the first half and we had a couple of mistakes that hurt us and penalties that took us out of drives. But that is the way football is and we have just got to respond to that.”
Splitting time in the backfield, Bieniek carried the ball 10 times while Nichols had 12 carries. Bieniek and Nichols both finished the night with 69 yards on the ground and a pair of touchdowns.
Powell finished the night 7-of-9 through the air for 145 yards. Hannibal did not commit any turnovers. Defensively, Bieniek intercepted a pass for the Pirates and returned in 26 yards before being tackled.
St Clair said his team played a “great second half.”
“We need to play 48 minutes,” St Clair said. “But the bottom line is we played better and we got off the ball better.”
Hannibal will head to Helias a week from today where the Pirates will attempt to finish off their undefeated regular season.