Five turnovers in six possessions in middle of game help turn 1-score game into 41-0 defeat for Hornets (0-2) at Kirksville Friday, Aug. 31

By PAUL STURM, C-T Sports Editor

KIRKSVILLE, Mo. — Having leaned heavily on the pass in seizing a 14-0 lead in the first half, the Kirksville Tigers took advantage of lax ball security by Chillicothe in the last half to do most of its damage with the run, registering a 41-0 non-conference home victory.

Turning the ball over five times on five of six mid-game possessions, including their first four of the second half, Chillicothe’s Hornets (0-2) were shut out for the second time in as many 2018 outings.

They will travel to Maryville this coming Friday to tangle with the defending Class 3 state-champion Spoofhounds.

Kirksville (1-1), which had fallen to the Hornets five-straight times, rode the passing arm of Paxton Dempsay to its 14-0 halftime lead.

Throwing for 205 yards on 15-of-24 accuracy, he hit Tanner Lain for a 9-yards score with 5:31 left in the half to produce the game’s first points.

He then guided them 80 yards in 10 plays in only 1:47 to set up Colten Gillespie’s 4-yards inside run 1:13 before halftime. The touchdown was mostly set up by a 37-yards strike to Blake Morgan that put the ball at the CHS 4.

Chillicothe’s inability to prevent the KHS air attack from scoring on that late first-half possession partially mitigated the looming prospect of it receiving the second-half kickoff. Instead of that circumstance being a chance to tie the game with its first scoring drive of 2018, the Hornets came out facing a 2-scores deficit.

A repeat of their mistakes-prone third-period performance the previous week against Marshall soon put the game out of reach for the inexperience CHS club.

A lost fumble on the second play of the opening possession of the third quarter left Kirksville with the ball at the CHS 45. Eight plays later, Dempsay hit Lain again with a short pass to the left side and the strong wingback dragged a would-be tackler behind him the last eight yards of a 12-yards scoring play.

Down 21-0 now, Chillicothe again fumbled the ball away on its second snap of the next seriess, this time at the Kirksville 42.

A 39-yards hookup between Dempsay and Blake Morgan advanced the ball to the CHS 13 and, three plays later, Gillespie plowed over from six yards away with 6:57 showing on the third-quarter clock.

Three plays after the ensuing kickoff, the Hornets lost possession yet again, this time a pass intended for Colten Sewell sailing a bit high and into the hands of Foster Janes at the CHS 36. His 9-yards return gave the host Tigers prime field position and they did not squander it.

Three carries by three different backs left the ball in the Hornets’ end zone, the last 6 yards again covered by big back Gillespie. However, with a chance to start use of the “running clock” with 4-1/2 minutes still left in the third quarter, Kirksville’s conversion kick was blocked by Hornet Isaac Washburn. That kept the spread at 34-0.

On the following series, a Tigers pass interference penalty helped Chillicothe cross midfield. On a second-and-9 play from the KHS 44, however, a deep pass from Winder for Sewell down the left side seemed to hang up a bit and a recovering Janes, several inches taller than Sewell, came down with the 50-50 ball for his second interception of the night.

With more field to protect this time, Chillicothe’s defense held and forced a punt, but the offense lost ground on its series and, after an incomplete pass on fourth-and-17 at the Kirksville 47, turned the ball back over virtually at midfield.

The Tigers used seven runs and one pass to cover those 53 yards, even overcoming a pair of holding penalties. A 13-yards keeper to the left side by Dempsay capped the march and, with Janes’ fifth successful PAT kick of the evening, the margin grew to 41-0 with 7:25 remaining.

The remainder of the game was played under the accelerated timekeeping rules.

Statistically, Dempsay unofficially added 56 second-half passing yards to his first-half output, finishing with 261 and two scores. Lain finished with nine receptions for 117 yards and two touchdowns.