Diamond Fernando was the only member of the Pirates backfield to gain traction during a 28-14 loss to Mexico.
Breaking down Hannibal's 28-14 loss to Mexico:
Diamond Fernando went into an all-out sprint to turn Hannibal's first play from scrimmage into a 56-yard touchdown against Mexico on Friday night. His strong game continued in the fourth quarter when he ran in the Pirates' only other score of the night.
The touchdowns were Fernando's first of the season after entering the contest with five carries for 16 yards through the first three games. He broke through for 90 yards on just seven carries in a 28-14 loss to the Bulldogs.
Aside from Fernando, five other Hannibal ball carriers were stuffed for a combined 48 yards on 26 carries.
“Diamond has some speed and runs the ball hard,” Hannibal coach Mark St. Clair said. “We've got some kids that can carry the ball. What we've got to have is some consistency. We've got to decide if we're going to run the ball with some authority all the time. That starts with our offensive line. It can't be where we pass and then run. We've got to be able to run the football.”
Hannibal knows plenty well how much a game can be swayed by taking advantage of an opponent's mistakes. After all, the Pirates did just that to escape Jefferson City with a comeback 41-28 win at Helias in Week 1.
Last Friday, it was Mexico that made the most of a Hannibal interception and fumble on back-to-back drives, leading to the Bulldogs' final two touchdowns.
“The tables were turned here,” St. Clair said.
Only 1:40 of clock in the third separated Mexico's strikes. Following an interception by Matthew Huffman at the Mexico 5, the Bulldogs went on a 13-play, 95-yard scoring drive capped by a Cameron Holman run. Dillon Nichols then recovered a Pirates fumble at the Bulldogs 20-yard line to set up a 20-yard rushing score by quarterback Jonathon Grubb.
“We had some mistakes that hurt us bad,” St. Clair noted. “There were a lot things that didn't go our way, but you've got to give credit to Mexico.”
WITH THE PICK
Hannibal's Will Whitaker played a huge role in keeping the score tied 7-all going into halftime. The junior intercepted a Mexico pass on the goal line for a touchback to stop the visitors' 15-play drive with 1:02 remaining in the second quarter.
“We made a good defensive stand right there before half,” St. Clair said. “But we've got to decide if we're going to play with intensity way before they get down on our side, because that's what we're not doing. We're not playing with the fire we need to.”