Pirates overwhelmed in season-opening loss

Hannibal running back Damien French, center, is tackled by a pair of Helias defenders in Friday's game in Jefferson City, Mo.
Mathew Kirby/Courier-Post
Courier-Post Staff
Posted: Aug. 30, 2019 12:01 am Updated: Aug. 30, 2019 11:34 pm

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — It wasn’t the kind of first impression the Hannibal football team wanted to make in the first game of the Quentin Hamner era.

Jefferson City Helias scored on its final four possessions of the first half, and five straight overall in a 46-0 thumping of Hannibal Friday night at Ray Hentges Stadium. The Pirates were shutout for the first time this decade, and it was the most lopsided loss since a 38-point loss to Helias in 2014.

"We have to respond and get better," Hamner said. "There are things that are eye-opening that we have to address."

The first thing was not letting up the big plays. The Crusaders (1-0) scored the game’s first touchdown on the first play of the second series, which was a 30-yard pass from quarterback Jacob Weaver to Griffin Buschjost.

Weaver threw a 23-yard touchdown pass to Dylan Weaver on the next series for a 14-0 lead with 1 minute, 12 seconds remaining in the first quarter.

Hannibal (0-1) appeared to have Helias settling for a field goal on the third drive, but a fake field goal resulted in kicker Vito Calvaruso tossing an 18-yard touchdown for a 20-0 advantage.

"We have to play for six seconds each play," Hamner said. "At times we looked really good, and other times we gave up the big plays. It comes down to fixing those things and we talked about that after the game."

The Crusaders led 33-0 at halftime, while the Pirates had just two first downs.

Hannibal had an opportunity to get on the board before halftime when Helias muffed a punt from John Clubine, and the Pirates recovered at the Crusaders’ 33-yard line. Hannibal, however, went back 7 yards before turning the ball over on downs.

"We just had to be consistent," Hamner said. "We can’t put together one or two good plays and then have two or three bad plays following that."

A 1-yard touchdown run by Brody Mays started the running clock midway through the third quarter.

Helias outgained Hannibal 424-190 in yardage. Running back Damien French rushed for 98 yards on 26 carries, while Preston Bennett, Dante Reading and Daylan Reading all combined for 52 rushing yards on nine attempts.

Sophomore quarterback Courtland Watson completed just 3 of 13 passes for 16 yards and was intercepted twice.

"it was his first night out," Hamner said. "We knew those things could happen."

It gives Hannibal things to work on for Week 2.

"We’ll fix what we’ve seen and move on," Hamner said. "There’s nothing else we can do." 

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