HANNIBAL | After watching the livestream of last Friday's victory at Jefferson City and reviewing the game film, Hannibal football coach Quentin Hamner challenged the Pirates with one goal for this week's home opener against Fort Zumwalt West.
Win the turnover battle.
“We need to see what the scoreboard looks like after we do that,” Hamner said.
The hope is it will be a little more lopsided.
The Pirates overcame losing four fumbles in the 32-21 victory over the Jays at Adkins Stadium by scoring on two of their four second-half drives and holding Jefferson City scoreless in the second half. The Jays didn't have a scoring drive of more than four plays, and two of the three TDs were a direct result of fumbles.
“For the rest of the year, we need to win the turnover battle,” Hannibal junior quarterback Courtland Watson said. “Coach said that will carry over and we will win every game if we do that.”
By doing so, the Pirates can control field position and make it tougher for opponents to string together drives.
Jefferson City, which was plus-one in turnover margin, didn't have a drive longer than 53 yards or last more than nine plays.
“It's tradition here that it's tough for teams to drive the length of the field on us,” said Hamner, who will be back on the sideline after serving a suspension for an off-the-field incident. “It's a matter of us not giving up big plays. When we make mistakes and give them the ball in plus territory, that's when we're in trouble.
“If we can play field position and get balls in space to our kids, that's the big thing. That's where we will excel.”
The passing game is playing a critical role in that.
Watson completed 12 of 15 passes for 241 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions, falling 5 yards shy of matching the program's single-game passing record. He connected with six different targets, four of which caught two passes apiece. Freshman Aneyas Williams led the Pirates with three receptions.
“We're trying to use the field vertically and horizontally,” Hamner said. “That means getting the ball out in the air. That takes time. That's why platooning is so important. It allows us to throw and catch, catch and throw every day.”
It keeps the Pirates fresh as well.
“In games, it really shows that we have more energy because of our platooning,” Watson said. “The defense can do its own thing, and our offense can do our own thing. Then we can have maximum energy out there at all times.”