Sideline Pass: Jim Bradford 11/17
By Jim Bradford PrepsKC Senior Writer
For 22 minutes last Saturday afternoon, Harrisonville had their hands full. Part of it was their own doing, but Platte County wasn’t going to let the stiff wind stop them in the Class 4 quarterfinals.
Then the Harrisonville defense stepped up. Big time.
Over the course of the next 10 minutes, stretching over part of the second and third quarters, the Harrisonville defense was all over Platte County. And the Pirates had nowhere to go — even though the wind was at their backs.
The Wildcat rising came on the heels of a rough couple of possessions — one offensive and one defensive — late in the first half.
It started with a false start after the Wildcats had marched down to the Platte County 24 and were looking at a third-and-1. Then an intentional grounding call on quarterback Zach Davidson had them staring at a fourth-and-18 at the 41.
Things didn’t get much better after a punt. An unsportsmanlike penalty on the next play gave the Pirates 15 more yards, and a pass interference call on the secondary two plays later had the Wildcats reeling. That was 50 yards that they had handed over to Platte County and the Pirates had run one play.
Three plays later, Austin Gilbert had busted out free on the right side after catching a quick out from quarterback James Valentine. As three Wildcats converged to make the hit on the Pirate receiver, the ball squirted free and Jackson Rudell pounced on it.
From that moment, with 1:31 left in the second quarter, it was all Harrisonville.
They used the two-minute offense to perfection in tossing a touchdown on the board with six seconds left in the half to take a 7-0 lead into the locker room.
Then were all over the Pirates in the second half.
Were it not for a meaningless touchdown from Platte County with four minutes to play, the Wildcats would have tossed a shutout. Not a bad showing for a state quarterfinal game.
The Wildcats’ Walter Eastwood then blocked a punt and returned it to the Pirates’ 5-yard line.
They punched it in easily from there and added to their lead when Jameson Knox stepped in front of a Valentine pass and returned it 19 yards for a sore. By the time the third quarter clock read 4:38, the Wildcats were in complete control, up 21-0.
“I thought our man-to-man press coverage was great,” said Harrisonville head coach Chuck Lliteras. “We wanted to make sure we put some pressure on the quarterback.”
That they did. They sacked the Pirate quarterback eight times and had him running for his life. Much of what Valentine was able to get came off of quick reads, swing passes or dumps across the middle.
“We wanted to limit him to about two-and-a-half seconds back there,” said Knox. “On film, we saw that he had pretty good success when he had some time. He usually got rid of it in about three seconds.
“We wanted to give him as little time as possible.”
And because their defense stepped it up, time did not run out on Harrisonville’s season.
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