Postseason run ends at Hannibal

Anthony Shivers takes advantage of a block by Isaiah Reams, sprinting through a gap between Hannibal’s Kaiser Greenwell and Drake Dudley on Friday night. The Bulldogs were knocked out of district contention 42-0. [Eric Mattson]
Dave Faries

Mexico used all their available tools on Friday night in Hannibal. Quarterback Ty Sims spread the ball to four different receivers and broke free for a 54-yard scamper. Meanwhile the backfield of Dante Billups, Isaiah Reams and Anthony Shivers constantly pounded the Pirates’ defense.

“I felt like we could move the ball,” observed Bulldogs’ lineman Kendyr Taylor. “But they sure are a good team.”

Hannibal blanked the Bulldogs in the district tournament second round at Porter Stadium, 42-0, taking a 13-0 first quarter lead and extending it from there. Yet Mexico threatened throughout the contest.

Late in the first period, pressure by Taylor on first and ten and Jaden Hatfield on third down forced Hannibal’s quarterback Courtland Watson to misfire. The Pirates turned the ball over and Sims turned to the air – hitting Reams on a quick strike then finding Shannon Dorsey on a post.

After sending Billups up the gut, Sims returned to the pass, connecting with Dorsey once again. The senior wideout took off down the left side with space ahead of him, but he was tripped up by the Pirates’ Jackson Parker and the drive eventually stalled.

Early in the second quarter with the score 20-0, the Bulldogs again broke into Hannibal territory. On first down from the 37, Sims tossed to Shivers, who broke two tackles and sprinted across midfield. Jake Haines then beat Hannibal deep backs Parker and Kaiser Greenwell on a cross for 14 more yards, making it first and 10 on the Pirates’ 30.

But an errant backwards pass ended up in Hannibal hands, ending the threat.

“We were on a roll,” Sims said. “If we could have kept it going, we would have been OK.”

The Bulldogs continued to create opportunities. Down 27-0 they turned to the big shoulders and churning legs of Billups. He powered through three tacklers on one carry, slipped through space created by the blocks of Taylor and Cody Babb on another. Reams and Shivers took over, carrying the ball into Hannibal territory, before Billups drove to the 39, pushing a wall of Pirates in front of him.

A completion to Haines and carries by Reams and Shivers moved the ball inside the red zone. With less than a minute to play in the half, Sims threw to Reams, who made a dazzling move to elude John Clubine. But he was brought down on the 9 yard line, just shy of a first.

The Bulldogs could not convert on fourth and one.

Mexico came out of the break fired up. Behind the legs of Sims this time – including the 54 yard race against Hannibal’s Greenwell that brought them to the edge of the red zone – the Bulldogs yet again put themselves in position to score.

“Coach gave us a pep talk,” Billups said. “And you just have to keep fighting.”

Sims turned to the air in an attempt to put numbers on the board. He aimed for the corner of the end zone, where wideout Jesse Finnewald waited. Cornerback Markell Humphrey was there, as well, and he won the jump ball.

The interception was the lone blemish on Sims’ stat line. He completed 9 of 14 for 69 yards. Reams hauled in four of those for 14 yards. Dorsey captured 2 for 27 and Haines 2 for 20. Andrew Runge caught a 2-yard toss.

Billups closed out his Bulldogs football career with 77 yards on 22 carries and first team all-conference honors.

“That’s what I was working for,” said the back who also earned all-conference a year ago. “It’s actually a great accomplishment.”

Reams ran for 21 and Shivers for 19.

Taylor joined Billups on the all-conference lineup for his blocking prowess. Looking back – at the scoreboard and a season that gained recognition – Taylor felt mixed emotions.

“It feels bad,” he observed. “But it’s an honor.”


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