The Hannibal football team surged to a 42-0 victory at Marshall on Friday to finish unbeaten in the North Central Missouri Conference.
With the temperature at 43 degrees the Hannibal football team got off to an unusually cold start Friday at Marshall.
But once the Pirates warmed up they left no doubt, scoring three touchdowns in the second quarter en route to a 42-0 victory to secure the outright North Central Missouri Conference championship.
Hannibal improves to 6-2 overall and finishes 5-0 in the NCMC.
“We got the win and conference title outright, and now we can just focus on the details of how to keep getting better,” Hannibal coach Mark St. Clair said.
The Pirates turned the ball over on downs, punted and lost a fumble on their first three possessions. Not a typical sequence for an offense that averages 450 yards per game.
Their next three possessions went significantly better.
Damien French raced 41 yards for his 18th touchdown of the season to put Hannibal ahead 7-0 with 10:39 remaining in the first half.
Quarterback Gabe Worthington rolled right on fourth-and-goal from the Marshall 6 and hit tight end Lawson Rickey for a completion that made it 14-0 five minutes later.
Dante Reading capped an 8-play, 65-yard drive with a 10-yard run with 45 ticks until halftime to give the Pirates a three-touchdown advantage.
“We had some issues early on, some caused by the conditions, but once we got our feet underneath us and got more focused and locked in we started playing a lot better,” St. Clair said.
All the while, Hannibal's cohesive defense remained strong against the pass-oriented Marshall attack.
The visitors recovered a fumble on third-and-goal to thwart the initial Marshall drive of the night.
The Pirates forced three turnovers on downs in the first half.
"Our intensity on defense was excellent,” St. Clair said. “We couldn't quite get to their quarterback, but we were getting enough pressure to hurry his throws. That led to a lot of incomplete passes and negative plays.”
Hannibal took a 21-0 lead into the intermission.
Marshall (2-6, 1-3) gained one first down on its first drive after halftime but then went in reverse and punted.
Daylan Reading punched in a score from two yards out in the third quarter to grow Hannibal's advantage to 27-0.
Vernell Hawkins sacked Ben Haug on third down to force another Marshall punt late in the third stanza.
Following a Marshall penalty Hannibal set up shop at the Marshall 25. Dezi Jones came down with a touchdown reception from Worthington on the first and only play of the next series. Worthington passed to Braxton Lennox for the 2-point conversion to turn on the turbo clock.
Preston Bennett picked off a Haug pass on the second play of the fourth quarter. Kadin Morgan made the Owls pay with a 3-yard rushing score to make it 42-0.
Seth Deters made a tackle on fourth-and-goal in the final minute to help the Pirates preserve the shutout.
Bennett led Hannibal with 11 tackles in the victory, while Morgan and Braden Schlueter each made six stops. Jordan Schafer and Lennox had five tackles a piece.
Dante Reading was a force on the defensive line with four sacks as the Pirates posted 10 tackles for loss.
Hannibal is scheduled to host Battle at Porter Stadium next Friday for the final game of the regular season.
“We've got Battle coming to town and it will be a good game for us to sharpen our skills and get ready for a district run,” St. Clair said.