Kearney rallies to beat Platte County again

By Matt Pepper Special to PrepsKC
Posted: November 3, 2011 - 2:05 PM



When Kearney came back from a 15-0 second half deficit to beat Platte County 16-15 in Week 2 of the regular season, the rematch in the regional round of the Class 4 Missouri state playoffs was looked at as a much anticipated game.
 
It was also looked at as a game that could feature more scoring than the previous meeting as both offenses had developed into two powerful machines. With steady rain and high winds showing no mercy throughout the game, the clash would play out very differently. Kearney would trail 3-0 for most of the game until scoring 16 unanswered points to earn the win.
 
While both teams saw trouble early adjusting to a fully soaked field at Bulldog Stadium, Platte County was able to successfully move the ball in the first half. At times, senior quarterback Krae Kelso seemed to be one of the only players able to gain traction as he racked up over 100 yards rushing in the first half.
 
Despite coming up empty handed in the first quarter, the Pirates were able to put the game’s first score on the board when Tanner Jermain sent a knuckle-ball kick through the uprights for a 30 yard field goal putting Platte County up 3-0. It would remain that way going into halftime.
 
The difference for Platte County in the second half, and it would prove to be a big one, was that Kelso who suffered a concussion late in the first half would be out the rest of the game leaving the ball in the hands of backup quarterback James Valentine.
 
“When our quarterback goes down it’s hard to move the ball, but James did a great job stepping in which is a tough position to be in for a kid,” Platte County coach Bill Utz said.
 
This time it was the Bulldogs who came out in the third quarter moving the ball. Kearney had the ball deep inside Platte County territory twice before the Pirates came up with two big defensive stands, the last of which resulted in a lost fumble inside the 10-yard line. The teams combined for eight fumbles through the duration of the game, a testament to the conditions and the tempo of the game overall.
 
“Weather being different, I think it would have changed the game for both teams,” Kearney coach Greg Jones said. “On a night like this with the wind blowing, you got to do what you got to do to win a ball game.”
 
Prior to the fourth quarter, the thought of Jermain’s first half field goal possibly being enough for the Pirates to pull out a victory was a very real possibility. That thought was soon erased though as the game turned on a dime early in the fourth quarter when a Platte County punt, deep in their own territory, was mishandled and then kicked off the side of the punter’s foot, giving Kearney the ball at the Pirates’ 15-yard line.
 
“We told the special teams they’d be the difference in the game and that punt right there was it,” Jones said.
 
Two plays later it was Kearney’s Tyler Hicks taking a four yard carry in for the game’s first touchdown putting the Bulldogs up 7-3. Teams exchanged drives before Platte County took possession with just over three minutes to play at their own six yard line having one last chance to put points on the board. It was short-lived as Kearney’s Alex Sobbe tore through the Pirate line on its first play to take down Valentine in the end zone for a safety, giving the Bulldogs a 9-3 lead and the ball.
 
“It didn’t go the way I expected it to go, that’s for sure,” Jones said. “We just stayed together and our kids kept churning and churning. Our defense put us in incredible field position and we were finally about to cash one in.”
 
Kearney had the momentum at that point and wouldn’t be stopped as they received the ensuing kickoff and while using the clock to their advantage drove down the field again adding another touchdown on a one-yard Brock Broughton touchdown run increasing the lead to what would be a final of 16-3.
 
Platte County finishes the season 7-4 while Kearney will host Savannah in the state sectional round on Monday night.