The football team pounded the Hazelwood East Spartans in their semifinal game on Saturday afternoon. The 41-20 win sets up the Class 5 state championship game on Saturday, Nov. 26 at 6:30 p.m. for Kirkwood against Staley High School (from north Kansas City).
On Saturday, the Pioneers trailed for only the third time this season after Hazelwood East converted a interception into a touchdown. After allowing that opening touchdown, the Pioneer defense took control and didn’t allow the Spartans another first down the rest of the first half.
Kirkwood got their offense rolling with a long drive spanning almost seven minutes and converting two fourth downs to finally score on a three yard BJ Buckner run with 9:22 remaining in the second quarter.
then scored touchdowns on two consecutive carries from 35 and 13 yards to stretch the Kirkwood lead to 21-6.
Getting the ball with 1:43 remaining in the half, Hazelwood East threw three incomplete passes. Coupled with a bad punt, Kirkwood was left with 74 seconds and 34 yards to extend their lead before half time. The Spartans forced a Pioneer fourth down. Instead of punting, Buckner took the ball right up the gut for a 25 yard touchdown and a 28-6 Kirkwood lead at halftime.
After a quiet first half with only one catch for no gain, Kirkwood got creative to involve in the offense to start of the second half. McHugh capped off the first Pioneer drive with a 17 touchdown run, the last four of which was leaping through the air to sneak the ball into the end zone. A bad snap on the extra point attempt left Kirkwood with a 34-6 lead over the Spartans.
Hazelwood East continued to plug away. They methodically drove down the field to score a touchdown and converted the two point conversion to cut the Kirkwood lead to 20 points right at the end of the third quarter.
The stood tall on the next Spartan drive. Hazelwood East drove the ball deep into Kirkwood territory. On fourth and five on the seven yard line, Jordan Bishop and several other Pioneer defenders stopped the Spartans well short to take over on downs.
With the offense unable to move the ball, the Spartans again got the ball back in good field position. They quickly hit a long pass play up the middle of the field for a touchdown. Clayton Burnett blasted into the Spartan backfield to stop the two point conversion and preserve a 34-20 Pioneer lead.
And Burnett wasn’t finished yet. After Buckner’s third rushing touchdown of the day, Burnett sacked the Spartans’ quarterback twice on their final drive to hold onto a 41-20 victory.
With a stiff wind throughout the game, Kirkwood stuck with their thriving rushing attack to score all six of their touchdowns.
Ramon Alton led the Pioneers with 153 yards and Buckner also contributed 95 yards rushing to accompany his 59 yards passing. The Kirkwood defense held a potent Spartan rushing attack to only three yards per carry. Despite a -1 turnover differential on Saturday, Kirkwood is an overwhelming +23 on the season. For complete game stats, click here.
The semifinal victory gives Kirkwood their second chance at a winning the first state championship in school history.
Tickets for the 6:30 p.m. game on Saturday versus Staley are $11 per person. Advance tickets are available at Kirkwood High School. The game will also be broadcasted live on Fox Sports Midwest.
versus Webster Groves will be played by freshman and sophomores. Kickoff will be at noon at Kirkwood High School. Tickets are available at any Kirkwood school for $7 per person ($10 at the game). Don’t forget that Turkey Day pre-sale ticket profits stay in Kirkwood, while game day sales are split between the two schools.