The Princeton Tigers held off a strong late third quarter push by the defending state champion Penney Hornets to win the Class 1, District 8 championship game on Friday night, 46-16. The game, from Eddie Allen Field, was broadcast on KTTN FM 92.3 and Hot Country Z 101.7.
PHS second-year Head Coach Thomas Hotmer, says his Tigers have done a great job of staying focused on their tasks each week:
Andrew Smith, the Tiger quarterback, finished with three touchdowns through the air, and ran in the game’s opening score, a 1 yard plunge off the right side of his offensive line to give Princeton a 6-0 lead with 4:23 remaining in the first quarter. The Tigers added eight more points just 18 seconds into the second quarter, as Smith connected with Blaine Millburn on a 17 yard scoring strike, with Smith running in the two-point conversion for a 14-0 advantage.
Princeton pushed the lead to 20-0 on a 24 yard run by Tanner Coffman with 5:56 to play in the second quarter, part of an 11 carry, 76 yard night on the ground. However, the state championship mettle of the Hamilton boys began to show late in the half, with the Hornets stuffing in a 2 yard run by Justin Knudsen, in addition to a two-point run, cutting the halftime lead to 20-8.
A back-and-forth third quarter saw the Hornets threaten to cut the Tiger lead to one score, only to be denied as they approached the red zone. With 5:41 to go in the quarter, Smith had a 7 yard touchdown run, sending the Princeton lead to 26-8.
The most significant push of the night for the Hornets followed, with a 3 yard run by freshman Sawyer Morrow, and a two-point run by quarterback Ryan Cook cutting Princeton’s lead to 26-16 at the end of three.
With Hamilton driving, the Hornets appeared to be moments away from a score to cut the lead further. However, the Tiger defense forced a fumble recovery, and, while the Princeton offense failed to immediately respond with points, the turnover bug continued to haunt the Hornets. With 7:25 remaining, Clayton Sweetin returned an errant throw 59 yards for a touchdown. After the defense held Penney on downs, the Princeton offense struck with 5:49 remaining on a 24 yard Smith to Millburn connection, with a 64 yard run down the north sideline at Eddie Allen Field, by Andrew Smith, closing out the KCI co-champions, as the final score hit 46-16.
Hotmer spoke about the confidence his team has in being able to defeat any opponent thrown their way:
Unofficially, Smith had 16 carries for 115 yards, while throwing for 146 yards. Knudsen finished with 26 carries for 159 yards for a Penney team playing without star quarterback LaTroy Harper, who injured his MCL in a district semifinal win over Putnam County, taking the Hornets big play threat out of the game. Hamilton finishes the year at 10-2. Princeton, now a perfect 12-0 on the season, will travel to Gower on Friday night (November 10th) to meet the East Buchanan Bulldogs. Kickoff is set for 7 o’clock, with pregame at 6:30, on KTTN FM 92.3 and Hot Country Z 101.7, as Tom Johnson and Dennis Stephenson provide the play-by-play coverage.
Coach Hotmer had early thoughts on the meeting with East Buchanan:
East Buchanan was a 36-14 winner in the District 7 title game over Plattsburg on Friday night. In the District 6 title tilt, the #2 ranked Marceline Tigers were upset on their home turf, falling to Lewis and Clark rival Westran, 42-16. The Hornets advance to play at #1 ranked Monroe City in the quarterfinals, after the Panthers hammered South Shelby 56-26. Other district winners in Class 1 were Valle Catholic, Thayer, Lockwood, and Lincoln.
In Class 2, the run of the Lathrop Mules ended in Higginsville, with the Huskers claiming a hard-fought 41-27 win, sending Lafayette County to Holden to play the Eagles in an MRVC rematch. Holden downed Knob Noster, 21-0. Clark County won District 6 over Palmyra 26-16, while North Callaway beat rival South Callaway to win District 5 38-20. Other Class 2 district champions are Caruthersville, Lutheran North, Ava, and Lamar.
The season ended in disappointing fashion for the MEC co-champion Chillicothe Hornets, who blew a 12-0 lead in falling to Maryville, 20-12. The win sends the Spoofhounds to Kansas City Center next week, after the Yellowjackets won District 7, 38-13 over Pleasant Hill.
Platte County hammered St. Joseph Lafayette to win Class 4, District 8, 38-0, with the Pirates playing at Moberly, a 35-21 winner over Helias Catholic, in the state quarterfinals.
The eight-man district champions are Worth County (44-22 over Stanberry in District 1), North Andrew (74-44 over St. Joseph Christian in District 2), King City (76-20 over Southwest Livingston in District 3), and Sacred Heart (93-46 winner over Greenfield in District 4).