PECULIAR, Mo. – With 6:17 left in the first half a turning point in the game was about to occur, it was only a matter of who was going to benefit.
It wasn’t Raymore-Peculiar sophomore Chris McKinzy’s intention to put his team with their backs against their goal line.
McKinzy had his heels on the 10-yard line as he was back to receive a Lee’s Summit North punt. The ball went over his head and he went after it. The end result was the ball on the one-yard line with 99 yards in between.
“He’s a special athlete and there’s going to be times that we want him to take chances,” Ray-Pec coach Tom Kruse said. “That just wasn’t one of them. It’s one of those where you have to know where you’re at on the field. We’ll get better at that. He’s a sophomore that wants to be a part of that and make something happen, but we have to make good decisions. Luckily we were able to get out of that and get a good drive going.”
Good is quite an understatement, though as the Panthers put the ball in junior running back Noah Durham’s hands.
Durham helped Ray-Pec (2-0) get off the goal line to give senior quarterback Grant Ardito some room to work with.
Durham rushed for 183 yards on 27 carries on the night helping set up a 5-yard touchdown run by Ardito with 30 seconds left in the half as Ray-Pec seized control of the game in its 30-7 victory.
“This is a big game to set the tone for the rest of the season, getting to 2-0,” Durham said. “It’s senior night, so it’s always great to win one for the seinors.”
The final drive of the first half for the Panthers spanned 5 minutes, 47 seconds as they went the entire length of the field in 19 plays.
They went into halftime leading by seven and extended it only 19 seconds into the second half as Brandon Carvan took his only carry of the game 61 yards to the end zone.
“That was the momentum swing,” Kruse said. “We went into the locker room and the kids felt confident and energetic. Scoring on the opening drive was big, too. We kept the pressure on defensively.”
The defense set up the final touchdown – a 4-yard run by Trent Mitchell with 26 seconds left in the third quarter. The Panthers had a short field after Andrew Houston picked off Bronco quarterback Caleb Aston, who completed 9-of-21 passes for 67 yards, and returned the ball to the North 34 yard line.
The Broncos took scored the games first points as Tori Hicks capped off a 14-play, 79 drive with a four-yard run that spanned 6 minutes, 19 seconds. Hicks ran for 111 yards on 17 carries.
Lee’s Summit North coach Jamar Mozee didn’t want to use new starters as an excuse.
He said 0-2 isn’t the way he wanted to start the season, but said his team is playing hard.
“We had our moments,” Mozee said. “I think that’s where maturity kicks in. A guy didn’t get over to make him turn him back up and they get to the corner. It’s not a go-back-to-the-drawing-board thing, but it’s the little things.”
Both teams hit the road next week as Ray-Pec heads to Lee’s Summit West (1-1) and North travels to Blue Springs South (0-2).
WARRENSBURG 36, VAN HORN 6: Van Horn dropped to 0-2 with a loss to host Warrensburg Friday.
Warrensburg built a 36-0 lead before Zach Turpin scored on a touchdown run with 4:23 left in the fourth quarter for the Falcons’ lone score.