Lafaytte County ends Penney's long streak
By Shawn Roney Special to PrepsKC
HIGGINSVILLE, Mo. – Penney of Hamilton’s 41-game winning streak ended Saturday afternoon with a hard thud.
Actually, there were about 40 hard thuds. They were the thuds of Penney’s skill players hitting the ground at Lafayette County of Higginsville High School as Lafayette County’s defense relentlessly pursued and tackled them – and in the process, stifled a Penney offense that had averaged 34 points a game through 12 games.
The Huskers yielded only 65 total yards of offense – including 54 yards rushing on 36 carries – in crushing the Hornets 42-0 in Class 2 quarterfinal action. They also only yielded three first downs.
Offensively, the Huskers (12-1) secured their first state semifinals appearance by amassing 438 total yards, including 349 yards rushing.
“They just beat our fannies,” Penney coach Dave Fairchild said. “I think we made dumb mistakes.”
The fanny-whipping started with the first series. After getting their only first down of the first half on Drew Finch’s 11-yard pass to T.J. Schieber, the Hornets were forced to punt. On Lafayette County’s first offensive play, Cottry Lewis ripped off an 84-yard TD run and Matt Elder booted the first of his six extra-point kicks to make it 7-0 Huskers.
“That really set the tone, very well, for what we needed to get done,” Huskers coach Steve Cook said.
The Huskers kicked the rout into high gear by scoring on all of their second-quarter possessions. Lewis’ 21-yard TD run and Elder’s point after capped their first possession, a 13-play, 82-yard drive lasting 6:50. On their next possession, quarterback DeShaun Thirkield ripped off a 52-yard run to set up Tyrell Thirkield’s 39-yard TD pass to Cody Sanders on a flea flicker with 2:01 remaining. DeShaun Thirkield then tossed an 18-yard TD pass over the middle to Sanders with 33.2 seconds remaining.
Lafayette County scored again on the second half’s opening possession. A 50-yard run by Lewis set up DeShaun Thirkield’s 5-yard TD run with 10:26 left in the third quarter. Lewis’ 2-yard TD run and Elder’s extra point with 5:10 remaining in the third quarter provided the Huskers’ final points.
Late in the fourth quarter, the Huskers had a chance to score again when they recovered a fumble at the Penney 5-yard line. The threat ended when Elder’s 32-yard field goal try fell short with 1:48 left. Taking over at their 20, the Hornets ran out the clock to finalize their first loss since Nov. 10, 2008.
Coincidentally, that loss was a shutout, too: 18-0 to eventual Class 1 state champion Orrick. After that, the Hornets won the 2009 Class 1 and 2010 Class 2 state championships. They were 12-0 entering Saturday’s quarterfinals.
When asked what he would remember about the winning streak, Fairchild said: “We had some fine players that worked hard. And these guys (on this year’s team) are good kids. They took it to us today. That’s all that was.”
If the Huskers “keep their heads screwed on right, they’ll win this thing,” Fairchild commented. They’ll take their next step toward winning it all when they face Blair Oaks of Jefferson City in the semis at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Blair Oaks.
Cook and his team will be in “unchartered waters” Saturday, he admitted. Still, he suggested that wouldn’t distract the Huskers, saying they’re focused on their goals.
“And I think they’re perfectly capable of achieving them,” Cook said.
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