Breaking down Hannibal's 26-7 win over Boonville on Friday:
BIG STEP FORWARD
The Hannibal defense took a big step forward by keeping Boonville off the scoreboard for three quarters Friday night during a 26-7 North Central Missouri Conference road win.
The Pirates (2-1, 1-0 NCMC) came up with 10 ½ tackles for loss, recovered three fumbles and turned defense into offense when Kevin Campbell scored a 28-yard pick-six touchdown just 50 seconds into the second half.
Ten Hannibal defenders took part in at least one stop for loss as the visitors disrupted Boonville's offensive scheme. Junior Bradley McCollum stood out with 2 ½ tackles for loss, while Wyatt Waelder had 1 ½.
The strong night displayed progress for coach Mark St. Clair's unit after allowing Helias and Quincy Notre Dame a combined total of 67 points the first two weeks. However, the longtime coach mentioned his defense is by no means operating at its maximum potential.
“We played OK on defense,” he said. “I'm not going to give it an A+ or anything, but we were much better. Our aggression level is getting better. Their style of play led to some losses on plays with deep handoffs, but our defensive line was getting some pressure and pushing their line back.”
Campbell effectively put the game away for Hannibal with his interception-turned-touchdown right after halftime. The senior did so by inserting himself into the thick of a Boonville flat pattern over the middle.
Quarterback Malik Brazil tried to thread the needle for a completion over the middle to his 235-pound tight end. Campbell, listed at 5-foot-6, 165-pounds, had other ideas, jumping the route to snatch the ball away before taking it to the house.
St. Clair can't remember many nights when he's watched a Hannibal quarterback throw for 241 yards, which is what junior Gabe Worthington totaled through the air Friday.
That's because it's only happened one other time.
Brett Park threw for 246 yards against Timberland during a 48-35 loss in the 2007 regular season finale.
Worthington finished Friday 10-for-13 with three passing touchdowns, regularly going deep to complete four throws for 35 yards or more. The signal caller has now compiled 506 passing yards through three weeks — an average of 169 per game — to go along with a 73 percent completion rate.
Worthington was the only Pirate to complete a pass for the second straight week, indicating he is the No. 1 QB of choice following a battle for the position with Waelder. Waelder caught four passes for 74 yards against Boonville while also serving as an anchor for the Hannibal defense. Will Whitaker, who leads Hannibal with 238 yards receiving in 2017, hauled in a team-high 89 yards and two touchdowns.
Hannibal hosts Mexico (2-1, 1-0 NCMC) this Friday. The Bulldogs defeated Marshall 55-14 in Week 3.
THEY SAID IT
“The fact is we're a work in progress. Were there a lot of positives? Absolutely. Were there some things we need to work on? Absolutely. We've just got to come ready to play everyday whether it's practice or a game and get better. If we do that, good things can happen.” – Hannibal coach Mark St. Clair