A lightning bolt flashed just outside the Battle High School football stadium Friday evening, and it sent Fort Osage and Battle scurrying into their respective locker rooms before their Missouri Class 5 state semifinal game.
The weather delayed the kickoff.
It couldn’t halt Fort Osage’s frantic start.
Bailey Williamson returned the opening kick 99 yards for a touchdown, and Fort Osage never trailed on its way to a 49-12 victory over Battle, the defending state champions.
Fort Osage will play in the Missouri Class 5 state championship at 5:30 p.m. on Nov. 28 at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis.
“Right off the bat,” Fort Osage coach Ryan Schartz said. “You can’t ask for a much better start than that.”
The Indians will play the winner of Saturday’s game between Chaminade and Carthage for the state title.
Fort Osage, 12-1, has not won a state title in program history. It finished as runner-up in 2009 and 2012.
Williamson sparked a third try with his kickoff return, during which he shot up the middle of the field untouched.
Battle required just two offensive snaps to match Williamson’s score, when quarterback Brevinn Tyler ran through arm tackles for a 75-yard touchdown. But while Fort Osage held up its end of the early shootout, Battle ran out of bullets.
Senior quarterback Skylar Thompson, a Kansas State signee, ran for three touchdowns. The third came with 18 seconds left in the second quarter, giving the Indians a 35-6 halftime lead.
“The kickoff return set the tone, especially for me,” Thompson said. “Having seven points on the board before you ever step onto the field takes the pressure off.”
The only Indians’ hiccup was a Thompson fumble midway through the second quarter. But in a microcosm of the evening, Indians senior linebacker Jesse Reser intercepted Tyler on the next snap, setting up a Thompson touchdown.
The Fort Osage linebackers were aggressive jumping routes. On the first play of the second quarter, Indians senior linebacker Jonah Tuimaseve picked off Tyler and returned it 37 yards for a touchdown. Ky’Von Smith supplied the Indians’ third interception in the third quarter.
Tuimaseve also caught a 15-yard score. Isaiah Iloilo put the punctuation mark on the offensive onslaught with a 37-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
After its 75-yard touchdown run, Battle did not record a first down until midway through the third quarter, mostly due to its inability to block Fort Osage’s front-seven, which accounted for seven sacks.
“They were leaving a lot of one-on-one matchups with our outside guys and bringing three to me,” Fort Osage all-state defensive lineman Sima Thomas said. “And they were winning their battles. They stepped up.”
In sum, those parts led to another Indians’ state championship game appearance.
Historically, they haven’t produced results in the Edward Jones Dome. The Indians fell 31-7 to Kirkwood in 2012. They lost 31-14 to Webster Groves in 2009.
Another chance awaits.