The lights went out on the Hannibal football team — literally — during the fourth quarter of a 35-34 home loss to Helias on Friday night.
The lights flickered for the Hannibal football team when Jordan Schafer was tackled short of the end zone by Helias late in the fourth quarter.
Then they completely went out Friday night.
After quarterback Gabe Worthington ran for a 5-yard touchdown to pull the Pirates to within 35-34 with 2:36 remaining, Hannibal rolled the dice to attempt the 2-point conversion. Schafer swept right but was stopped in his tracks.
“We had moved the ball up and down the field running and throwing the ball,” Hannibal coach Mark St. Clair said. “We had the play we wanted. Their kid just slipped underneath the block and that's the way it goes.”
During the ensuing kickoff, the power went out at Porter Stadium, caused by a truck striking a power pole nearby. The outage led to an 18-minute delay.
The Crusaders ran out the clock once play resumed, with Blake Veltrop securing the narrow 35-34 victory by rushing for a first down with just over a minute left.
“This game gave us everything we needed except a win,” St. Clair said.
Helias (1-0) took control of the season opener with a surge in the third quarter in which it outscored Hannibal 21-6 to break a 14-all halftime tie.
Jacob Weaver, a sophomore who entered the game late in the first half due to an injury to Helias starting quarterback Daniel Rhea, accounted for all three Crusader touchdowns in the period and four on the night.
Hannibal (0-1) pulled off some trickery with an 80-yard halfback pass from JaQuez McGruder to Dezi Jones to make it 28-20 with 2:26 left in the third.
“We worked on that play all week long,” St. Clair said. “JaQuez did a great job seeing it was open and throwing a good pass. A lot of things had to go right on that, and they did.”
Helias responded with a 21-yard connection from Weaver to Ethan Johnson to go up by 15 with 49 ticks left in the third.
Worthington barreled for a 44-yard touchdown and converted the 2-point conversion on the ground to pull the Pirates to within 35-28 with 9:42 left in the contest.
Hannibal forced a punt to take over on their own 8 with 5:53 left.
Worthington hit Danny Colborn in stride for a 35-yard completion to stave off a fourth-and-8 to keep the Pirates alive on their final possession.
That set up Worthington's keeper to pull to within one.
The Pirates would never get closer.
Helias drew first blood by capitalizing on a Hannibal turnover in the first quarter. The Crusaders forced a fumble on a muffed handoff by Worthington to set up shop 21 yards from the goal line.
Two plays later, Veltrop ran 16 yards for a touchdown to give the Crusaders a 7-0 lead with 4:27 left in the opening stanza.
Damien French burst through a hole on the right side of the offensive line for an 8-yard score on the fourth play of the second quarter. The extra point by Jones knotted the score at 7.
Schafer and Chase Kirby each posted tackles for loss on Helias' next drive, forcing the Crusaders to punt.
Schafer led the Pirates with eight tackles for the game, while Vernell Hawkins made seven stops and French had six, including a sack.
Hannibal kept the momentum alive offensively.
Jones reeled in a 43-yard reception to move to the cusp of the red zone, and French bounced right to the outside for an 11-yard touchdown to put Hannibal up 14-7 with 4:17 until halftime.
Rhea kept the ball for a 15-yard run on fourth down with a minute left in the first half but exited after the play and never returned.
Weaver filled in with a 32-yard touchdown strike to Zach Woehr on the next play with 37 ticks until the break.
French finished with 77 yards rushing on 11 carries for the Pirates, while Worthington rushed for 106 yards on 19 tries. Both found the end zone twice.
Worthington recorded 133 yards through the air, completing 5 of 8 pass attempts with one interception.
Hannibal is scheduled to play at Jefferson City next Friday.