Platte County holds off Raytown South
By Bill Knust PrepsKC staff writer
Clinging to a slim lead in the fourth quarter with Raytown South’s offense deep in Platte County territory, the Pirates’ defense needed to make a big play.
Safety Johnny Blankenship knocked away a fourth-down pass to give the ball back to the Platte County offense, and the Pirates went on to secure a 23-15 victory.
After trailing 15-9 at the half, the Pirates’ defense didn’t allow a point in the second half and stamped out one last desperation drive with an interception from Kobe Cummings. Blankenship said the defense was just focused on getting one final stop on the key fourth down.
“That stop was huge,” he said. “The past two games we’ve given up fourth-down conversions which completely switched the momentum of the game. We got a stop and got the ball back tonight.”
The Pirates took over at their own 28-yard line with 4 minutes, 27 seconds remaining, trying to bleed the clock away. Instead they found themselves putting an exclamation point on the victory.
Quarterback Lloyd Lockett hooked up with receiver Alex Minter, catching the Cardinals in a blitz and no safety in the middle of the field. Minter juggled the catch at first, but when he secured it, he raced untouched to the end zone for a 61-yard score.
“With the situation we are in, we are trying to get Lloyd some confidence,” Pirates head coach Bill Utz said. “We had that play there in the third quarter, and we just missed it. We knew we needed to take a shot again because what they were doing defensively was taking the run away. He made a good throw, and we got a good catch.”
It was a special teams play that set up the Pirates’ go-ahead score in the third quarter. After moving the ball to the Cardinals’ half of the field on the opening drive of the second half, Platte County stalled out. Punter Parker Lucina and gunner JP Post combined to make a huge play with Lucina punting to the corner of the end zone and Post batting the ball out of bounds at the 1-yard line.
From there, Raytown South failed to move the ball, getting stuffed on two consecutive runs and then firing an incomplete pass on third down. The ensuing punt was fielded at the 25-yard line and returned to the 9 to set Platte County up with excellent field position. Three plays later Lockett found Minter to give the Pirates a 16-15 lead.
After putting up 15 points in the first half, the Cardinals found the going tough in the second. The field position they encountered did them no favors as well. Their best starting field position was their own 21-yard line, and twice they started inside their own 10-yard line. Cardinals coach Nick Adkins said the Pirates defense also contributed to the second half shutout.
“It was a combination of the field position and their defense,” Adkins said. “They’re a well-coached team, and they do a lot of things well. They made some adjustments at halftime, and they tackle well. They don’t miss a lot of tackles.”
On the drive that the Cardinals moved to the Pirates’ 28-yard line, quarterback Jabril Cox had a hand in all but one play in the drive, either running or throwing it. Twice Cox converted fourth-and-short situations, including a fourth-and-two at the Ray South 29-yard line.
Facing the fourth-and-seven, the Cardinals originally trotted kicker Bradley Rogers out to attempt a 45-yard field goal. However, Platte County called timeout, and the Cardinals ran their offense on the field to try and convert another fourth down.
“We were close to kicking it,” Adkins said. “I think we are good anywhere inside 40. It was the same thing before halftime. We were about 45, 46 yards out. We think it’s doable, but we also like the ball in our offense’s hands. That’s the decision we made, and I don’t think it was the wrong one.”
Cox had a hand in both Cardinals’ touchdowns in the first half. He lofted a 38-yard pass to Ronell Frazier as time expired in the first quarter, and also ran for a 3-yard touchdown in the final minute of the second quarter.
On the night Cox was 27-for-43 for 241 yards with a touchdown and three interceptions. He also rushed for 27 carries for 102 yards, a score and a two-point conversion.
Platte County was led by running back Mike McNair who finished with 21 carries for 95 yards and a score. Minter finished with three catches for 72 yards and two scores.
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