Tigers drop home finale, 21-13; look toward district playoffs.
Turnovers and penalties at critical times caused Kirksville to surrender a 13-7 first-half lead and lose to Fulton 21-13 on Senior Night at Spainhower Field Friday night.
The Tigers (3-6, 1-5 North Central Missouri Conference) lost two fumbles in the first half in Fulton territory, one resulting in an 80-yard touchdown by the Hornets' Josh King on the first play in the second quarter. Several penalties in the second half gave Fulton first downs and negated a first down late for the Tigers.
Kirksville coach Jeff Jacques said mistakes his team made were costly.
"Fulton just beat us," he said. "They had no turnovers and very few penalties. We were too aggressive on a lot of our penalties, but we play that way."
Fulton coach Pat Kelley said the breaks finally went the Hornets' (2-7, 2-4) way.
"Earlier this season, that ball on the fumble for a touchdown wouldn't have bounced into our hands," he said. "Josh made a great play on it. It was a great football game and it was going to come down as to which team was going to make the fewest mistakes."
Fulton running back Jeff Allison took advantage of his position in the wildcat formation by throwing touchdown passes to King (24 yards) and Randall Cole (34 yards). The touchdown pass to King gave Fulton a 14-13 lead with 10:06 left in the third quarter.
Jacques said Fulton hurt Kirksville with big plays.
"We had a couple of breakdowns in our secondary," he said. "Other than that, I think we stopped them pretty well. We knew Fulton had great athletes."
Kirksville answered Fulton's early touchdown with a Mitch Kriegshauser touchdown pass to Scott Schwend that covered 49 yards. Quinn Benson's extra point tied the game at seven with 3:20 left to go.
Kirksville took the lead on a Kriegshauser 34-yard touchdown pass to Gunner Western with :17 left in the first half. The extra point was blocked and the Tigers led 13-7 at halftime.
Kriegshauser finished the game completing 9-of-15 passes for 170 yards. Western led the Kirksville receivers with four catches for 74 yards.
Jacques felt Kirksville was prepared offensively and defensively.
"We had a good game plan," he said. "The coaches did a good job."
The Tigers entered the game seeded seventh in the Class 4, District 5 standings. Jacques said it looks like Kirksville will play at St. Dominic Friday night in a District game, but said that final matchups won't be determined until after Hannibal and Helias play Saturday night.
Jacques spoke highly of his 16 seniors after the game and said that things are looking up for Tiger football.
"I'm as proud as heck of those seniors, I'm going to miss them," he said. "All in all, I think the season was a success. It wasn't about the wins or losses for me, but whether the kids improved in each game and I think they did."