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A summary of the Pirates' 36-6
semifinal victory over Carl Junction

by Tad Brewer
Landmark reporter

The Platte County Pirate football team overcame the Carl Junction Bulldogs with a 36-6 victory, sending the Pirates packing to St. Louis to battle the fifth ranked New Madrid County Central Eagles.

The Pirates headed south to Carl Junction, which is about 10 miles west of Joplin, on Saturday, Nov. 17, to take on the Carl Junction Bulldogs in a contest that would determine which team would be headed to the former TWA Dome, in downtown St. Louis, to compete for a shot at the Missouri 3A State Title.

This was the third consecutive season that the Pirates were competing in the semifinals. Two seasons ago Platte County lost to Aurora in the semifinals, which was the Pirates last loss. Last season they defeated O’Hara, and this season they overcame Carl Junction.

The Pirates began their game against Carl Junction by kicking off to the Bulldogs.

The Bulldogs tried to find a way to run on the Platte County defense, in an attempt to get a drive established against the Pirates, but Carl Junction did not succeed and were forced to punt the ball to the Pirates.

Platte County made a statement on their first drive, marching the ball down the field for a score against the Bulldogs’ defense. A combination of passing by senior quarterback Robbie Campbell, receiving by senior David Poolman, and rushing by senior halfback Zach Sherman set up a two-yard rushing touchdown by junior fullback Matt Prout.

After the touchdown by Prout, a personal foul penalty was called on a Carl Junction player. The Pirates accepted the penalty, making the ball be spotted on the one-yard line for the extra point attempt. Since the Pirates had the ball even closer to the goal than a regular extra point attempt, they opted to go for two points. Sherman pounded the ball into the end zone converting the two-point attempt giving the Pirates an early 8-0 lead.

With 3:29 remaining in the first quarter, the Pirates took the lead with the score, concluding a 64-yard, 13-play drive that originated from a Carl Junction punt.

The Pirates kicked off after the touchdown, and junior kicker Nick Jaros kicked the ball off, where the ball was bobbled by the Carl Junction return man who accidentally kneeled the ball, giving the Bulldogs possession of the ball deep in their own territory.

The Bulldogs were eventually forced to punt, yet again turning the ball back over to the Pirates.

Platte County traveled 72-yards down the field on just 4 plays before they scored again. Sherman broke a 61-yard touchdown rush to account for most of the yardage on the drive. Jaros converted the extra point attempted and gave Platte County a 15-0 lead with 6:18 remaining in the half.

Once Carl Junction received the ball again after the touchdown, they were quick to turn the ball back over to the Pirates. Jaros intercepted a Bulldog pass and returned it 15 yards, down to the 25-yard line.

Just two plays after the interception, Sherman broke a 15-yard run for a touchdown with 5:03 remaining in the half. Jaros converted the extra point, and extended the Platte County lead to 22 points.

Neither team score
d again in the half, and the Pirates took their commanding 22-0 lead with them into halftime.

The Pirates received a squib kick, recovered by junior Luke Rainey and returned it 16 yards to their own 45-yard line to begin the action in the second half.

Platte County sent the ball 55 yards down the field on 3 plays for another Pirate touchdown against the Bulldog defense. Prout rushed the ball into the end zone from eight yards out for his second touchdown rush of the game.

The extra point by Jaros was true, and the Pirates lead grew to 29-0 with 10:58 remaining in the third quarter.

Carl Junction powered the ball down the field on a series of dump passes and rushing plays that led to their only score of the game. On 14 plays, the Bulldogs moved the ball 74 yards, concluding the drive with a 6-yard touchdown rush by their quarterback. Carl Junction decided to attempt a two-point conversion to try and get themselves back into the game, but they could not complete their two point conversion pass attempt, and the Pirate lead was cut down to 29-6 with 5:30 remaining in the third quarter to be played.

With hopes of recovering it, Carl Junction attempted to recover a squib kick, which was narrowly recovered by Rainey for the Pirates.

The final score of the ball game came with 11:33 remaining in the fourth quarter, when Campbell dove into the end zone from 1-yard out. This run concluded a 6-play, 63-yard drive. Jaros made the extra point kick, and the Pirates took a 36-6 lead over Carl Junction.

Shortly after this touchdown, Platte County removed its starters and wound down the clock advancing the Pirates to 13-0 on the season, past the semifinals, and back into the championship for the second consecutive year in St. Louis.

Senior wide receiver and linebacker Chase Verdoorn did not play at all in the Carl Junction game due to nagging leg injuries. Senior center Joe Bullock left the game early against Carl Junction with a banged up knee. Despite their injuries, both are expected to start in the championship in St. Louis.
The Pirates had 354 yards of total offense compared to 138 yards by Carl Junction. Of the 354 yards of Platte County offense, 231 came on the ground and 123 came through the air.

Sherman was the leading rusher for Platte County as he had 191 total yards on 21 attempts with 2 touchdowns.

Sherman, Missouri’s second all-time leading rusher, now has 328 carries on the season for 2,688 yards, and 1,113 career carries for 7,565 yards, which is ninth in the nation.

Other leading rusher for Platte County included Prout who had 24 yards on 4 attempts with 2 touchdowns, sophomore Brian Lister who had 14 yards on 3 attempts, and sophomore Jeremy Hart who had 11 yards on 5 attempts.

Campbell was 11-15 passing for 123 yards.

The leading receivers were Poolman with 4 for 62 yards, Jaros, who had his first career varsity action at wide receiver, had 19 yards on 3 receptions, Prout who had 17 yards on 2 receptions, and senior Mitch Black who had 2 receptions for 25 yards.

The leading tacklers for Platte County included juniors Sean O’Connor who had 15, Aaron Bernard had 13, Travis Frogge and Prout had 12 each, Cory Williams had 11, and Jaros and Poolman each added 5 of their own.

Poolman and Bernard each had one sack apiece.

Jaros had the only interception of the night.

After the Pirates defeated Carl Junction, they were set to take on the winner of the New Madrid County Central and Salem game. Salem fell to the Pirates last season in the championship, but they could not make it back to the dome, as New Madrid County Central pulled off a 43-23 victory.

New Madrid County Central is a speedy team that will have to find a way to overcome the Platte County defense and stop the Pirate offense. In the last poll of the season, the eagles of New Madrid County Central were ranked fourth, while the Pirates were ranked first in Missouri Class 3A football.

The Pirates will seek to defend last seasons championship and bring home another championship during their game on Friday, Nov. 23, at 3:15 p.m. at the former TWA Dome, it is no longer called the TWA Dome after the buyout of TWA by American Airlines, so as of now there is no official name for the Dome.

The Pirates are riding a 27 game winning streak, which is the longest in Missouri, into the championship game.