Platte County used a stingy defense in the first half to build a 17-point lead. In the third quarter, the Pirates showed they knew how to respond to a long touchdown pass by Oak Park.
That combination propelled Platte County to a 37-6 victory over Oak Park on Thursday evening at Staley High School.
“I give Oak Park credit,” said Platte County coach Bill Utz. “They came out and played really hard. At the same time, there were some times we were faced with adversity and I don’t think we handled it real well. We will get better at that.”
Despite a double-digit loss, the Northmen gave Platte County a minor scare when junior quarterback Andrew Harris threw a 38-yard touchdown pass to senior Remington Brelsford, making it 17-6 with 3 minutes, 54 seconds left in the third quarter.
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The Pirates answered by going on a 73-yard drive that was finished off on a 3-yard run by senior Michael McNair on the final play of the third quarter. Platte County entered the fourth quarter in front 24-6, which was a big enough cushion to secure its second victory of the season.
“It was big for us because we started off slow,” said Platte County senior quarterback Justin Mitchell. “We recovered from that and came back and scored. It boosted some confidence in some people, and we started playing as a team as the game went on.”
For Mitchell each game is meaningful. A year ago, Mitchell helped the Pirates to a 5-0 start, and then he suffered a shoulder injury in practice and missed the rest of the season.
“It is so much fun to play with these guys. I have been playing with them since fourth grade,” said Mitchell, who is going to play baseball at the University of Oklahoma next year.
Great field position throughout the first half, several strong runs by seniors McNair and Mitchell and one opportunistic fumble recovery sent Platte County into halftime ahead 17-0.
Perhaps the most impressive points for the Pirates were the first three on a 49-yard field goal by junior Parker Lacina with 7:49 left in the first quarter.
Oak Park then played great defense for the rest of the first quarter and most of the second quarter. The Northmen buckled down after an interception by Platte County by senior Kevin Neal that put the ball on Oak Park 35. Oak Park prevented a score by getting an interception from senior Abraham Chavez.
“Our defense was great,” Chavez said. “We played with heart for every play. It was the best I have seen us play defense. We have to focus on our little mistakes but realize we played a good game and fought.”
Early in the second quarter, Oak Park had a chance for a long touchdown reception, but the ball slipped through the hands of a receiver who was wide open near midfield. Two plays later, Platte County scored when Oak Park fumbled in the end zone and the ball was recovered by junior Dakota Schmidt. The extra point increased Platte County’s lead to 10-0 with 9:46 left in the second quarter.
Late in the second quarter, the Pirates put together their best drive of the half. They started at their 47 and moved 53 yards in 11 plays, scoring on a 3-yard run by McNair with 1:38 left in the second quarter. McNair and Mitchell made several athletic plays with their legs to keep the drive going.