Blown out by 35 at home in shortened regular-season clash, Hornets dropped Friday's state opener by six on road
WILLOW BROOK, Mo. — Hamilton’s Penney High School football Hornets tried to extend their program’s decade of tremendous success against substantial odds Friday night. While ultimately they could not, they still proved the champion’s mettle forged into their identity in that stretch.
Three times state champions during the decade, twice more state runnersup, and state-title contenders several other years, the Hornets put a huge scare into the Mid-Buchanan Dragons and MBHS fans dreaming of a possible first state crown in 2019.
Blown out by the Dragons 35-0 in only two quarters of a weather-shortened midseason game, Hamilton was a touchdown and conversion away from shocking the favored foe on the MBHS field at Willow Brook for the final eight minutes of the teams’ Class 1 District 7 championship-game rematch before “Mid-Buck” held on for a 20-14 triumph.
Afte senior quarterback Ryan Cook found paydirt on a run from two years out and Sawyer Morrow successfully kicked the extra point with 8:08 left in the game, the visiting Hornets (6-6) trailed by only six points in a game they’d been behind in by a 14-0 margin at halftime.
After Hamilton’s defense forced Mid-Buchanan to relinquish the ball on the Dragons’ subsequent possession, the Hornets’ offense had a chance to pull off the shocker with one more good drive. Caleb Obert’s team came close, perhaps thwarted only by a yellow handkerchief.
A fourth-and-long pass completion seemed to push Hamilton within a few yards of the tying touchdown, but it was negated by a penalty. When the Hornets could not repeat the feat on the even-longer fourth-down play, Mid-Buchanan regained possession with only a few minutes left. Earning a couple of first downs, the Dragons (11-1), who missed playing for the 2018 state title by a single point after knocking off Hamilton in the quarterfinals, ran off the remaining time to reach the state quarterfinals again, breathing a huge sigh of relief.
After being unable to cross the MBHS goal line in the first four quarters against the Dragons this season, Hamilton upped the pressure from the closer-than-expected halftime time when Cook hooked up with Kevin Williams for a touchdown strike not quite four minutes into the second half. With Morrow’s point-after kick, the Hornets were in a 1-score game in the second half.
A short scoring run by the Dragons late in the third stanza was followed by an unsuccessful 2-points conversion attempt, leaving an opening that helped keep Hamilton fired up.
When they took the ball down the field on their follow-up series and Cook put it in the end zone, they were back within a score. Morrow’s point-after kick positioned themselves to potentially win with a repeat, but it wasn’t quite to be.
Neither team moved the ball very well on the ground, Hamilton managing only 83 rushing yards and Mid-Buchanan 102, according to Hamilton stats-keepers. Thirty-two of MBHS’ ground yards came on one mid-first-quarter play when Brayden Burleson got loose and scored.
Cook connected on eight of 17 throws for 145 yards, finding junior end Williams five times for 107 of those yards and Andrew Rich three times for 44 more. “Mid-Buck” managed 206 passing yards.
Defensively for the Hornets, freshman A.J. Hon had a team-most six tackles, one a sack. Senior Landon Huff intercepted a pass for a second Mid=Buchanan turnover. Hamilton lost the ball three times on fumbles, thwarting its efforts to get some first-half offense going.