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Hamilton Again Gives Mid-Buchanan Stiff State-Quarterfinal Test Before Succumbing

Host Hornets led Class 1 battle with KCI Conference champ three times before eventually losing 46-21 Saturday. Penney HS team's eason ends with 8-4 mark.

Paul Sturm
Chillicothe News
Hamilton: Penney High School football Hornets junior running back Corbin Henderson fights through a couple of would-be tacklers to get into the Mid-Buchanan end zone for a 1-yard touchdown run in the second quarter of Saturday’s (Nov. 21, 2020) Missouri Class 1 state-playoffs quarterfinal game at Hamilton. Clear underdogs in the contest against the undefeated foe, the host Hornets led three times – including 14-7 after this Henderson score and the extra-point kick, but Mid-Buchanan took over the final 1-1/2 quarters with 27 unanswered points to prevail 46-21. The loss ended Hamilton’s season at 8-4.

HAMILTON, Mo. — For a second-straight year, Hamilton’s Penney High School football Hornets wiped the slate clean after a lopsided regular-season loss to the Mid-Buchanan Dragons and gave their favored foe a strong battle in the quarterfinal round of the Class 1 state playoffs Saturday. However, once more, all that gallant effort netted the Hornets was another season-halting loss.

For the third-straight November – and second time on Hamilton’s field, Mid-Buchanan moved on in the playoffs at the Hornets’ expense, this time posting the game’s last 27 points in the closing 19:10 to gain a 46-21 verdict.

“I thought the kids executed the game plan very well,” praised Caleb Obert, PHS head coach, “but Mid-Buchanan was just better than us in the end.”

The undefeated KCI Conference champs erased the last of Hamilton’s three leads with a short scoring run at the 7:06 mark of the third quarter, seizing a 27-21 advantage with the successful 2-points conversion.

Two plays into the fourth frame, Dragons star quarterback Javon Noyes’ second of three TD runs – a 3-yarder – made it a 2-scores game for the first time all afternoon. Midway through the period, T.J. Runyan ran in from four yards away before Noyes notched an 8-yarder just inside the last two minutes for some icing on MBHS’ state-semifinals-clinching cake.

The Penney High club had led after each of the first two periods, thanks to quarterback Tucker Ross’ 14-yards dash at the 3:16 mark of the opening stanza and Corbin Henderson’s 1-yard slash off right tackle 2:23 before halftime

Hamilton: Penney High School football Hornets junior quarterback Tucker Ross fights forward while protecting the ball from Mid-Buchanan Dragons defender on a third-quarter keeper during Saturday’s (Nov. 21, 2020) Missouri Class 1 state-quarterfinals game at Hamilton. Although Ross ran for a first-period touchdown that gave his team the initial lead and finished the game with a team-high 147 rushing yards on 22 carries, undefeated Mid-Buchanan pulled away down the stretch to prevail 46-21.

With Sawyer Morrow kicking the extra-point after each Hamilton TD, the Hornets (8-4) held a slim 14-13 edge at halftime following Noyes’ 14-yards touchdown throw to Caiden Bailey 1:08 prior to intermission. The Dragons’ point-after kick was no good on that occasion, keeping the hosts on top as the teams retired to their dressing rooms.

“In the first half, we ran the ball very well. The defense played very well, as well,” assessed Obert, who has a cumulative 49-16 won-lost record, including the 2016 state title, through his first five seasons at Hamilton. “We gave up some yards, but to hold that high-powered offense to 13 points in two quarters was an excellent effort.”

Mid-Buchanan (12-0) got the ball to begin the second half and cashed in for its first lead. Bailey again latched onto a Noyes throw for a 25-yards score not quite three minutes into the third period, although the Dragons were denied on their 2-points conversion try.

The lead lasted less than 20 seconds.

On the first or second play of the ensuing Hamilton series, All-State senior running back Morrow got free and bolted 65 yards to the end zone. When his third extra-point kick of the game also was true, Penney High was back on top, 21-19, with 8:52 on the third-stanza clock.

Although not quite as brief, that Hamilton advantage also soon was eclipsed as Mid-Buchanan regained the upper hand – for good, it proved – with a 3-yards run about 1:40 later.

“We were determined to continue with our game plan of stopping their run and us running the ball,” explained Obert of the second-half strategy.

“We exchanged scores and were putting together another excellent drive that had a first-and-goal, but we lost significant yards on first down and were unable to put points up.”

Once that happened, much like the final quarter of the teams’ state-quarterfinal at Hamilton two years ago, the floodgates opened with Noyes picking the run-focused Hornets defense apart with his passing.

“Their offense was able to pick up a lot of third-down conversions late in the game to keep us from having much of a chance for a comeback. We were able to slow their run game, but they started beating us with the pass and picked up some big chunks of yards.” 

For Hamilton, this was the 13th-consecutive year in which it reached at least the district finals.

“A 9-4 season, district champs, with a season of complete uncertainty –” Obert reflected a day later, “I’m very proud of all the boys.”

Statistically, according to PHS statisticians, Mid-Buchanan racked up almost twice as much yardage as Hamilton – a 593-299 spread. The Dragons not only eventually out-rushed the Hornets 310-299, but had an astronomical 293-0 advantage in the skies, connecting on 17 of 24 throws (Hamilton did not attempt a pass). Neither team turned the ball over.

Although the Hornets’ defense forced the Dragons into a third-down play 14 times, “Mid-Buck” converted on 11 of those key instances to sustain possession, leading to a 27-14 gap in first-downs

Hamilton: Penney High School Hornets senior running back Sawyer Morrow heads around left end to gain some of his 142 rushing yards in Saturday’s (Nov. 21, 2020) Missouri Class 1 football state-quarterfinals game against Mid-Buchanan at Hamilton. Morrow scored on a 65-yards run just over three minutes into the second half to give the Hornets their third lead of the game, 21-19, but the heavily-favored MBHS Dragons took over from there, eventually winning 46-21.

Individually for Hamilton, Ross led the attack with 147 rushing yards on 22 attempts. Morrow concluded his excellent career with 142 yards on 24 carries.

Defensively, junior Henderson’s 9 unassisted tackles and two assists paced the home team.  Junior Ross provided seven solo stops and six assists, making three tackles for losses – one of them a sack. Senior Anthony Prater provided a tackle behind the line among his two unassisted stops and six assists and classmate Losson Park had four solos and three assists.