Southwest Livingston Narrowly Drops HS Football Showdown with 2-Times State Champ

Staff Writer
Chillicothe News
Southwest Livingston HS football Wildcats senior quarterback Wes Hughes completes a second-half touchdown run of about 10 yards during Friday's (Sept. 18, 2020) home game against undefeated and 2-times defending state champion Mound City. Hughes started around left end on the play, but was cut off near the sidelines. Braking and reversing field to his right, he spied an open alley up the middle and took it in for the score as part of the Wildcats' rally which twice gave them a lead. However, a Mound City TD in the final two minutes gave the Panthers a 40-36 decision over Southwest (3-1) in the Highway 275 Conference battle.

Perhaps THE Missouri 8-man high school football game of the 2020 regular season lived up to expectations Friday, going down to the wire before last year’s state-championship-game combatants settled things.

Having led 14-0 at halftime and 20-6 more than midway through the third quarter, 2-times defending state champion Mound City needed a touchdown with less than two minutes left to deny the host Southwest Livingston Wildcats victory by a 40-36 final score.

Four second-half touchdown runs by SLHS senior quarterback Wes Hughes had catapulted the home team into a lead of 36-34 with 2:33 to go, but the Panthers (4-0, 2-0 conf.) had the required response to hold onto their No. 1 ranking and take control of the Highway 275 Conference title race. Southwest Livingston, ranked No. 3 in the state entering the game, dips to 3-1, 2-1 conf.).

Southwest’s first loss of 2020 typified the fortunes of C-T-area prep gridiron clubs in week four play. Of the 10 teams in action (Trenton remained idle a second-straight week, due to COVID-19 issues), including Braymer coming off the COVID-19 idle list to visit Orrick Saturday afternoon, only three – Marceline, Carrollton, Norborne/Hardin-Central – prevailed.

Marceline claimed its pivotal Lewis and Clark Conference duel at Fayette, blanking the Falcons 27-0. Carrollton squared its record at 2-2 with a 47-13 smackdown of struggling Salisbury and Norborne/Hardin-Central, did the same, slipping by Alma: Santa Fe 30-22 to level out at 2-2.

(As any additional information on any of the area’s week four games is received, this article will be supplemented)

Mound City 40, Southwest Livingston 36

LUDLOW — Once Southwest Livingston sorted out what would work best for it on offense, which proved to be quarterback We. Hughes keeping the ball and trying to make yards with his legs, the Wildcats charged back from their unusual scoreless first half and 14-0 deficit at intermission.

After the squads swapped touchdowns in the first half of the third stanza, leaving the gap still at 14 points, the home team surged.

We. Hughes’ scoring runs at the 5:10 and 2:08 marks of the third period, along with his successful point-after run following the second, pulled the Wildcats even at 20-20.

Although Mound City junior quarterback Tony Osburn connected with Wil Young on a 31-yards scoring pass only 1:11 after Southwest Livingston tied it, Hughes got loose a scant 27 seconds after Young’s T for a long touchdown run that knotted things at 26-all. However, We. Hughes found a receiver in the end zone on the SLHS conversion attempt, giving the Wildcats the lead for the first time all night, 28-26, entering the last stanza.

In true champion’s form, Mound City – which co-ops with Craig for its team – responded with another touchdown and successful conversion, giving it the lead once more by the middle of the final quarter of regulation time, but Southwest Livingston, supplemented by players from not only that school but neighbors Hale and Tina-Avalon, didn’t shrink from the challenge, either.

Moving the ball down the field smartly, the Wildcats got it to the MCHS 2 with under three minutes left. We. Hughes took it across from there with 2:33 on the clock beyond the south end zone and the score momentarily was all square at 36-36.

A completed pass by the hosts gave them the 2-points conversion, giving them back  a 2-points lead, but also leaving Mound City plenty of time (in the 8-man format) to strike one last blow and pull out the victory.

The Panthers did just that, moving the ball into the end zone in fairly-quick order. Even though MCHS didn’t convert afterward, the 4-points advantage held up in the remaining seconds and Southwest Livingston absorbed its first defeat of the year.

Whether the teams duel again during the postseason seems reasonably likely. Just when that might occur is to be learned this coming week when the Missouri State High School Activities Association at last announces its district assignments for fall sport. That process was significantly complicated and delayed as MSHSAA sorted through many COVID-19-related issues.

Marceline 27, Fayette 0

FAYETTE — After an impressive start to this season, the host Falcons (2-2, 1-1 conf.) looked like they might threaten the defending Lewis and Clark Conference-champion Tigers’ reign, but, when the time arrived for a showdown, MHS had all the answers.

While specifics on the game had not been reported at the time of Saturday’s original posting of this story, Marceline’s “Black Rage” defense was in fine form and the offense held up its end of the bargain, as well.

As a result, the mostly-non-senior MHS club improved to 3-0 in the loop and 4-0 overall. With victories already over the two teams which seemed most threatening to it in L&C play and Westran surprising potential contender Harrisburg Friday, Marceline sits squarely in the conference driver’s seat at midseason.

Palmyra 24, Brookfield 6

BROOKFIELD — Even having the luxury of facing both on its home field, Brookfield could do no better than follow its week three loss to defending Clarence Cannon Conference champion Centralia with another respectable loss against the team which figures to be the Panthers’ strongest 2020 challenger.

Blanked by Centralia, Brookfield did get on the Burlington Field scoreboard in the first half against Palmyra’s Panthers and trailed only 12-6 heading to the last half.

While the Bulldogs’ defense hung tough, the offense could not solve the Palmyra puzzle any after intermission.

No specifics on Brookfield’s second-straight loss beyond that was available at this story’s original posting Saturday.

East Buchanan 60, Hamilton: Penney 36

HAMILTON — What, at first glance, looks like a relatively-comfortable EBHS triumph in its KCI Conference opener – the Bulldogs’ would-be week three game against COVID-19-idled Lathrop was postponed – anything but easily achieved.

The clubs traded touchdowns through the first 2-1/2 quarters before the team from Gower followed Trevor Klein’s 45-yards scoring run that made its lead 30-20 with a 29-yards Conner Musser-to-Carson White TD strike with 3:55 showing on the third-period clock. When the Bulldogs converted successfully with a run, host Penney High’s Hornets trailed by 18 with under two minutes to go in the third frame.

However, in a span of less than six minutes of playing time, coach Caleb Obert’s club put itself in position to tie the game with a successful 2-points conversion.

Junior Tucker Ross earned his team a safety with 1:50 to play in the third quarter, according to statistics furnished by Obert. Then, following receipt of the ensuing free kick, Hamilton pushed the ball into the “red zone” at the start of the fourth quarter and, from the EBHS 6, 2-times All-State running back Sawyer Morrow found paydirt for a second time in the game with only 18 ticks off the fourth-quarter clock. When Ross ran in the conversion, the Hornets were back within a score.

A defensive stop led to Hamilton regaining possession around its own 20-yard line with just over eight minutes left. They barely needed eight seconds to put themselves on the verge of making it a brand-new game.

Morrow broke free on a run from his own 22 and was not caught, his 78-yards jaunt making the score 38-36, East Buchanan, with still 7:57 remaining. However, the Hornets’ try for two and a tie was thwarted and they never did catch up.

A sudden torrent of Bulldogs points – three touchdowns in a span of 1:14 – inside the final five minutes turned the game from in doubt to in East Buchanan’s back pocket. A 52-yards touchdown pass to Drew Thompson started the cloudburst, followed 33 seconds later by a 10-yards run by Gavin Ray and, 41 seconds after that, by a 73-yards Klein dash.

In addition to his two fourth-quarter touchdowns, Morrow reached the end zone on an 85-yards kickoff return in the middle of the first quarter, a play which immediately counter-balanced an 75-yards Cru Conaway scoring return of a Hamilton punt.

The Hornets’ Andrew Rich caught a Ross pass and turned it into a 41-yards gain and six points with 9:10 left in the first half and Ross cut the EBHS lead to 22-20 about three minutes into the third quarter with a 20-yards run.

Statistically, Morrow rushed 26 times for 146 yards to lead the Hamilton offense, but favored East Buchanan (3-0, 1-0 conf.) finished with about a 200-yards advantage in total offense.

Defensively for the Hornets (2-2, 1-1 conf.), in addition to Ross’ safety and eight tackles (five unassisted), Jared Potts had two tackles for losses, including a sack, among his team-high nine stops (five solo). Corbin Henderson participated in five tackles and made an interception.

Gallatin 48, Polo 27

GALLATIN — Fresh from their first victory since the 2017 season, the much-improved Polo Panthers gave the host Bulldogs everything they wanted and more, leading 21-6 late in the first half before GHS took over, for the most part, in the final 27 minutes.

A PHS touchdown and 2-points conversion with 3:10 remaining in the second period made it 21-6, Panthers, but that’s when the tide turned.

Gallatin scored two touchdowns 52 seconds apart inside the last two minutes of the opening half to pull within 21-18 at the half, then took the lead at 26-21 with another TD three minutes into the third segment.

Polo (1-3, 1-1 conf.) had its last gasp when it put the ball in the GHS end zone with just over 10 minutes remaining in the game, pulling within 34-27, but the Bulldogs replied with a touchdown and conversion 59 seconds later. Only 66 seconds after that, Gallatin (2-2, 1-1 conf.) posted another touchdown, which set the final score.

St. Joseph: Bishop LeBlond 62, Keytesville/Mendon: Northwestern 32

KEYTESVILLE — The still-newborn Keytesville/Northwestern Thunder program had its biggest scoring output through its 3-games history, but that didn’t keep it anywhere close to Bishop LeBlond’s Golden Eagles (1-3) in the contest between previously-winless clubs. The Thunder, yet to play a road game, dropped to 0-3 with the non-conference defeat.

Norborne/Hardin-Central 30, Alma: Santa Fe 22

NORBORNE — The host Aggies held on to improve to 2-2 overall. Idle for the prior two weeks, due to scheduled foes’ COVID-19 issues, Santa Fe’s Chiefs sank to 0-2.

Carrollton 47, Salisbury 13

CARROLLTON — A runaway win over the struggling Panthers (0-4) allowed CHS’ Trojans to neutralize their 0-2 start to the season with a second-straight victory prior to the start of their Missouri River Valley Conference play.