Shamar Griffith runs for 254 yards and four touchdowns in blowout victory
On Friday, Shamar Griffith did what he's done all season long: run – a lot.
Only this time, the junior running back carried his teammates with him, all the way to a North Central Missouri Conference Championship.
Griffith rushed for 254 yards and four touchdowns, and the host Pirates dominated Marshall 57-14 at HHS' Porter Stadium.
With one regular-season game to play, Griffith has 1,726 yards and 26 touchdowns for Hannibal (8-0, 6-0). He finished with 1,729 and 18 in 11 games played – regular season and playoffs – a season ago.
But for the small-yet-speedy tailback, the stats mean nothing so long as his team's win column stays healthy.
“The stats, they really don't matter much to mean, those are nothing if we aren't winning,” Griffith said. “I just come out here to help my team as best I can. We're a family, and I'm just trying to do my part to help us win.”
Griffith did his part in a big way Friday, scoring two first-quarter touchdowns and another in the second as the Pirates built a 43-7 cushion by halftime. Griffith, who had 16 touches, scored on runs of 6 yards, 56 yards and 1 yard before capping off his night with a 67-yard score in the third quarter.
Senior quarterback Jerry McBride added 101 yards on six carries with a touchdown, including a 75-yard streak down the left sideline with 3:01 left in the first half.
McBride's big run and Griffith's scores of 56 and 67 yards were all on the first play of their respective offensive series.
“A lot of what they do is based on confidence and obviously their athletic ability,” Hannibal head coach Mark St. Clair said. “But there's a lot of great people out there doing great things, and when you put the ball in (McBride and Griffith's) hands, they're going to make something happen.”
The Pirates led 29-0 before Marshall (2-6) got on the board with a 21-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Eric Brayman to Jaylen Varner.
But McBride quickly took the wind out of the Owls' sails with his ensuing 75-yard score to make it a 36-7 ballgame.
“We've been focusing on the best we can do,” McBride said. “Marshall was very physical, and we pride ourselves on being the very best that we can be so we can keep moving forward.”
Hannibal has won its last four games by a combined score of 251-40, with only one of those wins coming against a winning team (Fulton, currently 6-2). But McBride said the quality of Hannibal's opponents has little affect on its effort level.
“The good, the bad … it's just another chance to play football and another chance to do what we love,” he said. “We're going to go out every night and keeping doing what we're doing.”
The Pirates limited Marshall to just 184 yards of total offense while racking up 487 yards of their own. St. Clair tipped his hat to a Pirates offensive line that helped Hannibal gain 473 yards on the ground, and a defensive line that limited the Owls to 90 such yards.
“What you saw tonight was a line surge … dominance up front,” the coach said. “We won the battle at the line of scrimmage and we won the game. And that was on both sides of the ball.
“So hats off to our kids, particularly to those guys in the trenches.”
Sophomore Billy Smashey added 53 yards on eight carries and a touchdown for Hannibal, and junior Eric Jones went for 45 yards on seven touches with two scores. Junior Dalton Huffman had an interception for the Pirates.
Hannibal finishes out its regular season with a road game at Battle High School (Columbia) in week nine. Battle was undefeated heading into week eight but suffered a 44-14 setback to Jefferson City on Friday. Still, McBride, St. Clair and company are ready for a big test. Battle defeated the Pirates 28-14 last season.
“Aw man, I'm excited,” McBride said. “I'm watching film tonight.”
“We like our chances, we've got a good football team, but we've got to get better every week,” St. Clair added. “Our kids are excited … we asked for a good week-nine opponent, we got it, and we're going down to Columbia battle and it should be a great game.”