Lathrop ends Lamar's 7-year title run

Joe Caronia/PrepsKC

By Joe Caronia PrepsKC Staff Writer
Posted: November 24, 2018 - 3:09 PM

A trip to the Missouri Class 2 championship was on the line, as Lamar travelled to Lathrop. The Lathrop Mules held on, as they won 28-21 over the Tigers ending Lamar’s run of seven straight Class 2 championships.

The Tigers received the opening kickoff and slowly moved the ball down the field until with 3:13 left in the period quarterback Duncan Gepner scored on a 4 yard keeper. Juan Juarez, converted the PAT, and Lamar was up 7-0.

The Lathrop Mules answered quickly as Seth McKnight took a direct snap around the left end for a 51-yard touchdown. Justin Burns kick tied the score.

The Mules special teams came up big when the rush came right up the middle and blocked a punt, and Drew O’Connor scooped up the ball and returned it 17 yards for the score. Burns kick put the Mules up by seven.

Lamar had drove the ball into Mules 35-yard line when they attempted to convert on 4th down. Gepner had no time to get rid of the ball and was sacked, turning the ball over to the Mules offense, at the Tiger 42-yard line with 1:19 left in the half. Quarterback Blake Gordon, moved the Mules down the field hitting different targets. One of them was fullback Justin Wright, after the game Wright spoke about the drive, “We were just looking to try and create a mismatch against, the linebacker or the safety. I just ran my route as hard as I could and Blake put it right there.”

Wright bulled over from the 4-yard line with just :12 left in the half. Burns conversion but the Mules up 21-7 at the half.

The second half began with the Mules moving the ball into Tiger territory, but the drive stalled and Burns 42-yard field goal attempt was just wide right.

Late in the third quarter the Tigers made it a one score game when, Gepner scored diving over the pile from 1 yard out. Juarez conversion was good.

Midway through the final quarter Gordon scored on a 9-yard keeper around the right end. Burns kick put the Mules up by 14. Gordon, who had pretty much no voice left after the game, described the play, “It was something that we just installed this week. The coaches thought we could get to the outside, all I had to do was follow my teammates.”

Lamar took over with 3:02 left in the game and moved the ball down to the Mules 1-yard line when Gepner scored his third touchdown of the game. Juarez kick was the final score.

The Tigers attempted an onside kick but it was recovered by Gordon. When asked what he was thinking when the kick was coming towards him, he simply stated, “Let’s just end this game right here.”

After the game Mules coach Chris Holt gave huge praise to his defense “I was very happy with our tackling, when you are an undersized team, tackling is so important and that’s why we practice it every day.”

Mules linebacker Seth McKnight echoed his coach, “We practice tackling all the time like it’s spring practice. Left, right, left, step by step.

The Lamar Tigers finish their season with a record of 12-2. The Mules look to keep their undefeated season going with a state championship when they face off against Blair Oaks.