The second quarter doomed the Hannibal football team's chances for revenge against Moberly during a 41-6 loss in the Class 4 District 7 semifinals Friday night.
The second quarter doomed the Hannibal football team’s chances for revenge against Moberly during a 41-6 loss in the Class 4 District 7 semifinals Friday night.
The host Spartans steamrolled the Pirates to the tune of four unanswered touchdowns to take a commanding lead they never relinquished en route to their ninth straight victory.
Moberly (9-2) advances to host Helias next week for the district championship, while Hannibal (6-5) fails to advance to the title game for the first time since 2014 and finishes with five losses for the first season in 10 years.
“We played hard but we just couldn’t put it together,” Hannibal coach Mark St. Clair said. “We’re disappointed. Never fun to lose. But that’s why you play.”
Hannibal entered the night looking to exact revenge on the North Central Missouri Conference champions who snuck by the Pirates 18-13 on Sept. 29.
The Pirates showed promise early to make a goal line stand on Moberly’s first drive of the game, stopping the host Spartans on fourth-and-goal to take over at the 1.
The Pirates went ahead with a touchdown connection from quarterback Gabe Worthington to receiver Will Whitaker, which came via a 28-yard fly route to the corner of the end zone to cap a 5-play, 50-yard drive with 10:39 remaining in the first half.
After keeping the ball on the ground the first 12 plays of the game, Hannibal went to the air to take a 6-0 lead.
“We started out well,” St. Clair said. “They drove the ball all the way down and we stopped them within the 5-yard line and scored first, but we just didn’t do much after that and you’ve got to give credit to Moberly for that.”
There wasn’t much for Hannibal to celebrate after that as Moberly’s option attack out-gained the Pirates 476-211 on the night.
Landen Graves scampered for 55 yards on the third play of Moberly’s third possession to give the hosts a 7-6 edge with 9:49 remaining in the second quarter.
That’s when things turned from bad to ugly for the Pirates.
“They came right back and scored and we put our heads down for a little bit, and that cost us,” St. Clair said.
Hannibal’s Dante Reading fumbled on the first play of the ensuing possession, and two plays later, Moberly’s Chance Richards plowed into the end zone untouched to make it 14-6.
Following a Hannibal three-and-out, Moberly quarterback Nick Gelina then scored on a 62-yard keeper, juking past the final defender at the 10-yard line en route to the touchdown.
Spartan junior Luke Vitt picked off a first-down pass by Worthington to set up Moberly’s fourth touchdown, which came via a 4-yard scoring punch by Ben Heimann, who shined on both sides of the ball to record a game-high 12 tackles.
Moberly took 28-6 lead into the halftime break and proceeded to keep the visitors off the board in the second half.
“I think because we were so frustrated about us not sticking it in when we reached their 1-yard line that we were motivated not to let something like that happen again," said Moberly coach Cody McDowell. "We felt that if we were going to get inside the 15 or so again, we're motivated to make sure we get the job done every time and it was our guys up front that led the way."
Three Hannibal drives stalled in Moberly territory over the final 24 minutes, two of which ended in turnovers on downs. The third was thwarted when Gelina intercepted Worthington for the Spartans second pick of the night.
Gelina, who rushed for 173 yards and three scores on 13 carries, ran for a pair of third-quarter touchdowns. He scored from 22 yards out on the Spartans first drive of the second half and tacked on a 5-yard touchdown to make it 41-6 with 2:14 remaining in the period.
That started the running clock, which stayed in effect for the remainder of the ballgame.
Worthington finished 4-for-20 for 52 yards through the air. Whitaker reeled in a team-high three catches for 46 yards, while Billy Smashey and Worthington each rushed for 63 yards to pace Hannibal.
Braden Schlueter, Evan Allen and Jordan Schafer all recorded five tackles a piece for the Pirates.
Moberly Monitor-Index sports editor Chuck Embree contributed to this story.