Owls knocked off perch by Hannibal

Monday, October 21, 2019
The Owls only tackled Hannibal for losses three times, including a sack by sophomore Andre Smith (16). (Chris Allen/Democrat-News)

HANNIBAL -- It could have been worse for the Marshall football team Friday at Hannibal.

Pirates fans could have begun chanting the obnoxious "sha-na-na-na goodbye" song at the end of the 28-0 first quarter, but they didn't. Or the Owls could have been forced to walk The Gauntlet, venue of past insults, instead of taking more remote steps to their lockers at Korf Auditorium after the 63-15 loss.

Or the team bus could have had a flat tire on the way home.

Yes, it could have been worse. But as Sam the Lion noted in Larry McMurtry's "The Last Picture Show:" "You can say that about nearly everything, I guess." As it was, it was bad enough to spoil Marshall's pipedream of sharing a piece of the NCMC title for the first time since 2006.

Hannibal reasserted its historical dominance over the Owls -- not having lost at home to them since 2007 -- by scoring the first 49 points, taking a 56-8 lead into halftime and resting its starters during the bulk of the quick-played second half.

"This is the worst we've played since I've been here," confessed third-year Marshall head coach Adam Huse. "I'm very disappointed."

It didn't take long for the Pirates to strike, a 24-yard pass from sophomore Courtland Watson to senior Preston Bennett setting up junior Damien French's 28-yard touchdown run on a standard toss-sweep.

The Owls' first possession resulted in a pick-six, senior Kadin Morgan returning the first of his three interceptions 39 yards. After getting a stop, Watson's 35-yard bootleg preceded a 29-yard TD reception by French.

French broke off a 43-yard run on his next touch, followed by an 18-yard run by Morgan to the Marshall 1-yard line, from where Morgan punched the ball in for a 28-0 lead with 2:28 left in the first quarter.

The beat went on for Hannibal, which stopped the Owls on downs in their own territory. Two French runs for 17 yards and a 12-yard catch by sophomore Tyler Hardy set up Watson's 4-yard scoring toss to senior Dante Reading.

Junior Drake Dudley intercepted a pass and Bennett hauled in a 34-yard pass before French rumbled in from a yard out. Dudley's 17-yard punt return put the Pirates in position at the MHS 41. On the third snap, Watson found Worthington with a 27-yard pass for a 49-0 lead.

The Owls got on the board when Haug hit junior Malik Evans with a 68-yard bomb, but Hannibal added one more touchdown before halftime, Watson breaking off a 34-yard run.

The second half took fewer than 40 minutes to elapse. After a scoreless third period, Marshall opened the fourth quarter with an eight-play, 70-yard drive, mostly behind the running of junior Jeramiah Fry -- who picked up first downs on runs of 15 and 16 yards, his longest of the season, and 1-yard plunge.

Bennett returned the ensuing kickoff 84 yards and junior Hunter Parker scored on the next play, a 9-yard run.

French rushed for 133 yards, all in the first half -- when the Pirates (5-3, 5-0 NCMC) had 414 yards in total offense. Hannibal completed its second straight undefeated league campaign, and is second place in the Class 4, District 4 standings.

The Owls (2-6, 2-2) dropped to fifth place in the same district and will need a win Friday against Kirksville during Senior Night to have a chance at their first home district game since the current format began in 2012.

Contact Chris Allen at callen@marshallnews.com

Editor's Note: Marshall last won at Hannibal in 2007. Text corrected.

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