During a 14-week span that began in late August, the Odessa Bulldogs made moving the football look easy. They scored an average of 38 points per week. A rushing attack produced 255 yards per game. And they did it with a first-year tailback who accounted for 33 touchdowns.
The high-powered offense was halted for the first time Saturday.
So, too, was the Bulldogs’ state-championship run.
John Burroughs defeated Odessa 30-6 in the Missouri Class 3 state championship game at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis.
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“They made it very difficult for us to run the football, and that’s what we’re about,” Odessa coach Mark Thomas said. “When you take that away from us, that puts us in a very tough situation offensively.”
Odessa, 13-2, produced its lowest offensive output of the season. Bulldogs senior quarterback Ty Wagner threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Josiah Bennett with 6:39 remaining to prevent a shutout.
Odessa senior running back Kobe Hardin ran for 127 yards — he topped the century mark in every game this season — but it required 31 carries against a John Burroughs defense that showed a variety of looks.
John Burroughs, 14-1, won its ninth championship after losing in the title game four times in the last five seasons. Its defense wasn’t perfect Saturday — Odessa still managed 291 yards — but it consistently limited the damage.
Odessa actually put together three 10-play drives in the opening half. But none of them broke the shutout.
Why? Field position. Odessa had six possessions in the first two quarters, and it started all of them inside its own 20.
“That happened to us earlier in the season, so I figured we would still be fine,” Wagner said. “We could never pick it up.”
Three turnovers didn’t help. On back-to-back drives in the opening half, John Burroughs forced turnovers. Wagner threw an interception in opposition territory, and the Bulldogs fumbled the quarterback-tailback exchange. Hardin later lost a fumble in the third quarter.
John Burroughs countered with big-play ability. Jake Bain rushed for 255 yards and three touchdowns — two of them topping 50 yards. John Burroughs led 20-0 at halftime.
“That was a concern going in,” Thomas said. “We knew we needed to take (the run) away from them. At times, we did. But we weren’t able to do it consistently.”
Odessa was attempting to win its first football state championship since 1994. Only four years ago, the program endured a winless season.
The 2015 season marked the second-most wins in school history.
“It’s one of the best experiences of my life,” Wagner said. “I’ll cherish every moment of it for the rest of my life, even though we (lost).”