Drew Harris runs with the ball

Drew Harris runs with the ball during the Hannibal varsity football team’s 21-0 loss to Pulaski in the Section III Independent League semifinals.

PULASKI — The Hannibal varsity football team fell to Pulaski in the Section III Independent League semifinals Saturday, 21-0, ending the Warriors’ season.

Hannibal finishes with a 3-3 overall record, including the semifinal loss to the Blue Devils. 

Hannibal coach Mike Kitts said now that some of his underclassmen have experienced a playoff atmosphere, now the Warriors have something to build on.

 “It’s part of the maturation of our program. We’re trying to build something,” Kitts said. “It was great for the kids to get to play in the playoffs. Yeah, we didn’t come out on top. But it’s something to build from.”

The entire game was a defensive battle, with the first quarter ending scoreless. Pulaski had possession on its own 40-yard line to begin the second quarter. Just a couple plays in, quarterback Casey Wilson found Owen Isgar for a 43-yard passing touchdown, putting the Blue Devils up 7-0 after the extra point with 11:06 left in the half.

Minutes later, Mason Dawley had a four-yard run for a rushing touchdown to put Pulaski up 14-0.

Hannibal recovered the kickoff of the second half after a fumble, but couldn’t capitalize after the Blue Devils prevented a first down. 

Pulaski rounded out the scoring with a 42-yard run from Tanner Trust, who hurdled over a couple Hannibal defenders to get into the end zone only 21 seconds into the fourth quarter. 

Kitts added that Pulaski won the battle at the line of scrimmage en route to the victory.

“Our kids played hard. We didn’t give up. They were better up front than us,” he said. “Usually the team that wins at the line of scrimmage wins the football game. They won the football game. They’re very physical.”

Logan Longley led the Warriors with 62 rushing yards, while Drew Harris tacked on 10 yards. Dustin MacFarland also had a yard on the ground.

Defensively, Longley recorded 15 tackles. Owen Skiff and James Moore both had seven tackles each. Longley and Moore also forced fumbles. Lane Rawls recovered a fumble while adding two tackles. Curtis Wilson and Harris both had six tackles and Ethan Thibault chipped in five tackles. Moore and Wilson both tacked on a sack.

Hannibal graduates 12 seniors this year from its roster: Wilson, Mark Smith, Skiff, Rawls, MacFarland, Zach Ingersoll, Harris, Emmons, Connor Delaney, Mark Cucais, Cameron Aubertine and Mathias Alton.

“You always hate to see the seniors go. These kids have worked hard for a couple years,” Kitts said. “You build relationships with those kids. Any time they leave you, it’s bittersweet. Hopefully onward and upward for them.”

But Kitts’ message to those returning next year is simple: it’s time to get back to work.

“The message for (the underclassmen) is that if they want to take the next step, we’ve got to do the work in the offseason,” Kitts said. “You’re halfway up the mountain. You want to get the rest of the way. That happens during the summer time, not during the season.”

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