Kearney smashes Belton
By Bill Knust PrepsKC staff writer
Coming into the game Friday night, Belton’s high-powered offense had reeled off four straight games with at least 42 points. However, Kearney came into the game without allowing a touchdown in 14 quarters. Something would have to give.
And if it was Kearney’s defense doing the giving, head coach Greg Jones told defensive coordinator Josh Gray they couldn’t let Pirates running back Zach Willis be the one to beat them.
Although, Willis and the Pirates struck first, the Bulldogs ultimately had the last laugh, reeling off 48 straight points to win 48-7 and secure at least a share of the Suburban Conference Small Six title.
“I told Coach Gray that we needed to make them throw the ball to beat us,” Jones said. “They put a great game plan together. We loaded the box. Having (linebacker) Cale (Garrett) in there obviously helps.”
Belton got on the board first with an impressive drive. The Pirates went 84 yards in nine plays. Willis rushed in from five yards out to put them up 7-0 with 2 minutes, 19 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
It was the last time the Pirates would come close to scoring. In fact, after the first score they didn’t cross past the Bulldogs 45-yard line until their final drive of the night against the Bulldogs’ JV defense.
“They are very good,” Garrett said. “We were self-destructing early. Our alignment and assignments are what we preach all the time. That is our key for our defense to function properly. We had some slipups, all 11 of us, and that allowed them to score. We didn’t let our heads hang for sure. We stayed positive, and we did what we were supposed to do after that.”
Kearney wasted little time answering back. It took just 2:18 before quarterback Logan Hinck rushed for the first of his two scores on the night. It was a banner night for Hinck overall. He finished with over 300 yards of total offense — 99 yards and two scores on the ground and another 221 yards through the air.
The big momentum swing happened in the final 3:41 of the first half. The Bulldogs went 40 yards in three plays, capped by receiver Jess Davis’ 23-yard touchdown run. The extra point made it 17-7, and Kearney’s defense took advantage of an aggressive Pirate offense on the following drive. Defensive back Spencer Wolters picked off Belton quarterback Justus Shaw at midfield, giving Kearney great field position with 1:13 left on the clock and all three timeouts.
It took four shots from inside the 3-yard line but Hinck capped the drive with a 1-yard score with just three seconds left in the half. To make matters worse for the Pirates, Kearney received the second half kickoff as well.
It looked like Hinck scored on third down, as the line judge on the Belton sideline signaled touchdown but the head official signaled Hinck down short of the goal. With Kearney out of timeouts, the Bulldogs managed to get a play in, get lined up and score before the clock expired giving them a 24-3 lead at the half.
“It was huge getting those two scores before half,” Hinck said. “That gave us some momentum and made them drop their heads a bit. We came out and scored right away in the second half. That was also huge.”
Hinck said Jones emphasized at halftime the need to get off to a good start and keep building the momentum. It took a little trickeration, but the Bulldogs ate a little more than 5:00 off the clock, and they built their lead to 31-7. Garrett came in on third and goal from the 11 for the Bulldogs’ Wildcat formation. Garrett faked up into the line and pulled up to loft a pass to receiver Aaron Mello who hauled in Garrett’s first-career touchdown pass.
Garrett said the play got put in a few weeks ago, and he was appreciative of the blocking from his backs and offensive line. He also said Mello did the hard work hauling in what he admitted wasn’t the prettiest of passes.
Running back Marcus Harris finished off the Pirates. Getting only one carry in the first half, Harris finished with 10 carries for 124 yards and two scores — displaying the offensive depth the Bulldogs possess.
“It’s nice to not have to have a guy taking a pounding every Friday night,” Jones said. “Marcus is still fresh, which is great heading into the playoffs.”
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