The Hannibal football team battled Class 6 Jefferson City to the bitter end of a 30-27 loss at Adkins Stadium on Friday night.

Gabe Worthington threw a poised pass over the middle to Lawson Rickey that appeared to put the Hannibal football team in the driver’s seat Friday night.

The only problem?

The touchdown didn’t count. 

A second before the Pirates’ snapped the fourth-and-9 play from the Jefferson City 17-yard line, Hannibal called for a timeout from the sideline, eliminating a completion to the end zone that would have vaulted the Pirates into the lead.

“We lined up and didn’t like the play call,” Hannibal coach Mark St. Clair said. “We called timeout. Our plan was if it didn’t look great we were going to come up with something different. That’s just the way it happens sometimes.” 

After the stoppage, Worthington carried the ball and was stopped a yard short of a first down with 44 seconds remaining. 

Jefferson City held on to win 30-27 at Adkins Stadium.

The Pirates out-gained their Class 6 opponent 465-277 and rushed for 300 yards on 41 carries.

That offense still wasn’t enough.

“I couldn’t be more proud of our kids going against a team of that caliber and size,” St. Clair said. “The way we gutted it out, that was an absolutely tremendous contest.”

The hosts’ game-winning drive covered 84 yards and lasted more than seven minutes in the fourth quarter.

Jays quarterback Devin Roberson picked up a bad snap and found Levi Jobe for a 38-yard completion on a third-and-13 to keep the drive alive. Roberson later converted a fourth-and-1 on a keeper.

The Jays plowed within a yard of the end zone before the situation got extremely dicey. 

After setting up a first-and-goal from the 1, Jeff City botched two more snaps, the second of which Roberson recovered for a major loss that sent the Jays back to the Hannibal 24.

On third-and-goal, Jobe stutter-stepped on his receiving route and got open for a 24-yard score. Roberson’s successful run on the 2-point conversion secured the final points of the night. 

Hannibal, which led 21-15 at halftime, faced adversity two minutes into the third quarter when Roberson connected with Ryan Brooks for a 39-yard touchdown to give the Jays a 1-point lead.

The Pirates responded by moving all the way to the Jeff City 26 before Worthington was intercepted on an overthrow. 

Kadin Morgan provided backup for the Pirates. 

Morgan came up with a pick of his own on the ensuing Jays drive, snatching the ball at the Hannibal 13-yard line. 

“That was a big play, there’s no question,” St. Clair said.

The Pirates stalled near midfield and punted with four minutes left in the third quarter.

The Hannibal defense then forced a 3-and-out helped by a tackle for loss by Adriec Brumbaugh, setting up a go-ahead 6-yard touchdown by Damien French a minute into the fourth that made it 27-22.

French, who rushed for 139 yards and three scores, was stuffed on a 2-point conversion attempt. 

Hannibal failed to score again.

Worthington hit Will Whitaker with a quick 5-yard slant with 3:08 left in the first quarter for the first score of the game.

HS Football: TD pass from Worthington to Whitaker. Hannibal 7 Jeff City 0. 3:08 1Q #GameTime #FridayNightLights #HannibalPirates

— Hannibal AD Office (@Hannibal_AD) September 1, 2018

The touchdown capped a 10-play, 55-yard drive that came immediately after the Pirates defense forced a 3-and-out with a tackle for loss by Chase Kirby and a pair of incompletions.

Roberson, at 6-foot-3, 240 pounds, punched in his first of four total touchdowns with a short run to tie the game at 7 six seconds in the second quarter. 

The burly signal caller barreled in for another 1-yard score on the Jays’ next drive, and a successful 2-point conversion made it 15-7.

JaQuez McGruder and French teamed up to carry the Pirates offense on the next drive. McGruder broke free for a 32-yard rush, and French followed with a 43-yard foot race to the end zone to pull within 15-13.

Dante Reading caused disruption with a key tackle in the backfield from his nose guard position to help the Pirates force a 3-and-out.

The Jays shanked a punt for just nine yards, and French promptly delivered a 29-yard touchdown run for Hannibal to punctuate an efficient 3-play, 32-yard drive to go ahead 21-15.

Hannibal stopped the Jays on fourth down in the final two minutes of the first half to preserve a lead into the intermission.