The old saying that defense wins championships couldn’t have been further from the truth for the Boonville Pirates football team Friday night at Mexico.
In a must-win game for both teams as far as conference and district standings, the Pirates out-lasted the Bulldogs in a defensive battle by a score of 12-6.
While the win improved Boonville’s record to 2-3 overall and 1-1 in the NCMC, Mexico fell to 1-4 overall and 1-2 in the conference.
Of course the storyline in this ballgame was the Pirates’ defense holding Mexico to just one touchdown for the entire contest. Although the Bulldogs struck first late in the first quarter, it was all Boonville after that with a touchdown in the in the second quarter and one again in the third quarter for the victory.
The Pirates also accomplished two feats Friday night on the road. By beating the Bulldogs, Boonville snapped a 0-2 skid in games at Mexico. Since the season series started in 2008, the first year that Boonville joined the NCMC, the home team has won every game. The Bulldogs won the first meeting in 2008 by a score of 15-12 while Boonville took the second game in 2009 in Boonville 27-6. Then, in 2010, Mexico won again at home 36-29. However, in 2011 and 2012, the Pirates won back-to-back games at home by the scores of 18-12 and 26-0, respectively.
Boonville Pirates football coach Devin Brown is also 3-0 against the Bulldogs since taking over the program in 2011.
Add it up and it’s no wonder Friday night’s game went down to the wire. Although Boonville holds a 4-2 series lead against Mexico, four out of the six games have been decided by seven points or less.
Brown shrugged off facing his old team, saying it is more about the kids than him.
“Sure it was a big game,” Brown said. “We were both 1-3 and we talked about that all week. One team was going to be 2-3 and one team was going to be 1-4 at 9:30 at night, but to me, every game is a must win game. We were able to win two in a row and this could have went eight way but we won it.”
Of course it didn’t look for the Pirates early on. Although both teams struggled to find any offense on their first-two possessions, Mexico finally hit paydirt with 34 seconds left in the first quarter when senior Jamel Taylor broke free up the middle on a 41-yard run to put the Bulldogs on top 6-0.
Boonville then caught a break on the PAT, which sailed wide left.
After Taylor scored on the long run, Brown said the defense buckled up and played well for the rest of the game. “I thought to myself don’t let this get started,” Brown said. “We were struggling offensively, so it was one of those nights where the defense had to come out and play and they did. It was just one of those games where it was hard for one team to lose, but when you win, it feels pretty good.”
Page 2 of 3 - Luckily for Brown and the Pirates, they were able to finally get their offense going on their third possession of the game. After two straight three and outs, Boonville started its third drive from its own 28 with 32 seconds left in the first quarter. Meanwhile, after driving the ball to the Mexico 1-yard line 11 plays later, senior quarterback Jacob Francis found the end zone to tie the game at 6-all with 6:59 left in the half.
Boonville also missed on the PAT. But little of that mattered at the time when senior linebacker Dakota Meyer picked off the first of two interceptions at the Mexico 38.
Unfortunately for the Pirates, they were shutout for the rest of the half while punting on their next possession and then turning the ball back over to Mexico on downs with 45 seconds left.
The Bulldogs, meanwhile, never crossed mid-field for the rest of the half after the touchdown run by Taylor.
However, after completing 24 minutes of grind it out football, the Bulldogs held a 166-126 lead in total yards.
As for Taylor, he had 15 carries for 119 yards and one touchdown in the first half.
In the second half, Boonville came out and moved the ball all the way down to the Mexico 1-yard line on a 14-play drive. However, on fourth and 1, Mexico dropped the Pirates for a 6-yard loss.
The Bulldogs then committed their second turnover of the ball when junior Austin Hulbert recovered a fumble at the Mexico 31. Eight players later after moving the ball down to the Bulldogs 5-yard line, junior Austin Henderson hit paydirt with 17 seconds left in the third quarter to give Boonville the lead at 12-6.
The Pirates then caught a break on the two-point conversion when Mexico was called for pass interference. As it turned out, the Bulldogs weren’t hurt by the penalty as Boonville failed to score from the 2.
Meanwhile, after both teams traded punts, the Pirates caught another huge break when Dakota Meyer picked off his second pass of the ballgame at the Mexico 31.
The Bulldogs held after four plays while taking the ball back over at their own 30. Then, after driving the ball all the way down to the Boonville 40 with 2:09 left, Mexico had no choice but to go for it on fourth and six.
The Pirates again held their ground when the pass by junior quarterback Tyler Bracht fell incomplete.
Of course after going three and out, the Pirates were forced to punt the ball back to Mexico with a little over a minute to play. However, after punting the ball, Boonville caught another break when the Bulldogs were called for roughing the kicker with 48 seconds remaining.
That’s all it took for Boonville to run out the rest of the time on the clock to preserve the victory.
Page 3 of 3 - After the game, Brown said when you get three turnovers you have to be able to win. “Dakota’s two interceptions were huge,” Brown said. “But I also thought Hendy (Austin Henderson) played great. And even though we didn’t throw for a lot of yards tonight, I thought Jacob Francis ran it well. Austin Hulbert also made good catches. Really, the defense played their butts off.”
As far as playing four quarters, Brown said he thought his team played good for 3 1/2 only because Mexico scored its only touchdown late in the first quarter.
For the game, Boonville had 14 first downs along with 167 yards rushing and 44 passing for a total of 211. Mexico, meanwhile, finished the game with 12 first downs, 229 yards rushing and only 12 passing for a total of 241.
On an individual note, senior running back Brenden Meyer had 13 carries for 46 yards while Jacob Francis had 19 carries for 43 yards and one touchdown, Austin Henderson with 10 carries for 43 yards and one touchdown, Jordan Weaver three carries for 28 and Dakota Meyer five carries for 9 yards.
Francis also completed five of 11 passes for 44 yards.
Austin Hulbert had four catches for 33 yards while Tyler Peterson hauled in one for 11 yards.
On the defensive side of the ball, Peterson had another big night with 18 solo stops and five assisted tackles for a total of 23. He also caused one fumble
Jordan Weaver finished the game with five solo stops and five assisted tackles for a total of 10 while Austin Henderson added five solo stops and four assisted tackles, Andrew Broyhill with four solo stops and four assisted tackles, Dakota Meyer with five solo stops, two assisted tackles and two interceptions, Austin Hulbert with three solo stops, two assisted tackles and one fumble recovery, Grady Kay with two solo stops and three assisted tackles, Tyler Polk with two solo stops and two assisted tackles, Nolan Murray with one solo stop and two assisted tackles, Brenden Meyer and Josh Judd each with two solo stops and Jacob Francis with one solo stop and one assisted tackle.
For Mexico, Taylor finished the game with 19 carries for 144 yards and one touchdown. Bracht, meanwhile, completed 1 of 9 passes for 12 yards with two interceptions.
Note: In other games in the NCMC last Friday, the Moberly Spartans improved to 5-0 on the season by beating St. James 58-7. Hannibal also improved to 4-1 by turning back Kirksville 33-20, as did Fulton, who won 56-26 over the Marshall Owls.
In games this Friday, the Boonville Pirates will host the 1-4 Kirksville Tigers; the Fulton Hornets will travel to Hannibal; Moberly will play at Marshall; and Mexico will go on the road to play Warrenton.
In the Class 3 District 6 standings, California remained perfect on the season at 5-0 with 50 points. Centralia is second at 4-1 with 42.6 points, followed by Fulton at 4-1 with 42, Macon 41 with 41.3, Chillicothe 3-2 with 36.1, Boonville in sixth place at 2-3 with 30.22, Southern Boone seven at 1-4 with 18.4 and MMA eighth at 0-4 with 11.