Pirates keep improving, keep rolling through NCMC opponents with high-powered attack

Hannibal’s Noah Young (59) tackles Fulton’s Malik Douglas (34) during the Pirates game against the Hornets, Friday in Hannibal.  Mathew Kirby (Herald WhigCourier Post)

Hannibal’s Noah Young (59) tackles Fulton’s Malik Douglas (34) during the Pirates’ North Central Missouri Conference victory Friday night at Porter Stadium in Hannibal, Mo. | Mathew Kirby photo

HANNIBAL, Mo. — Hannibal quarterback Waylon Anders shrugged off the final margin of victory, preferring to break down the bigger picture.

“We know we have to stay focused, no matter who we are playing or what the score is,” Anders said. 

The junior insists maintaining that kind of mindset is imperative, regardless of how easy the victory appears to be developing as the game unfolds.

Anders’ approach was illustrated in resounding fashion Friday night when the Pirates dispatched outmanned and outgunned Fulton in a 77-6 North Central Missouri Conference game before about 950 fans at Porter Stadium.

And make no mistake about it, Hannibal’s victory was every bit the one-sided romp that the score implies. 

“Our goal is always to just get better each week,” Anders said.

Mission accomplished — again. The Pirates, ranked sixth in Class 4 and averaging 41.5 points per game, are trending upward. 

Hannibal (3-1, 1-0 NCMC) has won three in a row after an opening loss to Helias, and its domination of Fulton (0-4, 0-1) came in every facet. Hannibal led 63-6 by halftime in a contest that saw the final two quarters completed with a running clock.

“We feel we can play with anyone out there,” Hannibal coach Jeff Gschwender said. “We can do a lot of different things. The sky’s the limit.” 

Hannibal’s Waylon Anders throws a pass during the Pirates’ North Central Missouri Conference victory over Fulton on Friday night at Porter Stadium in Hannibal, Mo. | Mathew Kirby photo

Hannibal’s win over Fulton was its 16th straight. The Pirates have outscored Fulton 920-194 in those games, which have boosted Hannibal’s lead in the all-time series to 44-12-1. Fulton’s most-recent win over Hannibal came in 2007 (28-20), the last time the Pirates suffered a losing season (3-7).

Hannibal saw eight different players score touchdowns in a game when highly touted running back Aneyas Williams, a University of Notre Dame commit, did not carry the ball once. Williams, who has rushed for 3,254 yards in his prep career, did reach the end zone when he returned a punt 75 yards for a touchdown early in the first quarter. 

Williams’ touchdown not only started Hannibal’s tidal wave toward the end zone, but moved the senior into fifth place in Missouri career scoring with 713 points. He’s 27 points shy of fourth place. Williams’ 112th career score leaves him one touchdown shy of fifth place and four short of fourth place on the state’s all-time TD list.

Hannibal won for the 15th time in its last 16 home games, is 81-5 in its last 86 NCMC tests and has won 12 straight conference games. Fulton is headed in the exact opposite direction, having lost 19 consecutive league games, 20 straight road contests and 32 of its last 34 overall starts.

Hannibal receiver/kick returner Michael Ford had two touchdown receptions (16 and 2 yards), plus returned a punt 65 yards for a score.

Running back Mike Ferreira scored on runs of 4 and 8 yards. He also led Hannibal in ground gaining with 83 yards, boosting his season total to a Pirates’ best 586 yards.

Running backs Cody Culp (6 yards), Nick Ferreira (8 yards) and Austin Closser (3 yards) all scored on short runs. Receiver Karter Reed hauled in a 3-yard touchdown pass. 

Anders threw three touchdown passes, ran 51 yards for another score and kicked nine extra points. Anders, who had a direct hand in 33 of Hannibal’s points, completed 6 of 8 passes for 83 yards.

“Last week (in a 34-28 win over Troy Buchanan), we ran the ball 78 times,” Gschwender said. “This week, we threw the ball more.”

Anders took note of more emphasis on the passing game.

“It was nice to throw the ball,” he said, with an obvious grin.

Anders, who now has 26 career touchdown passes in 16 varsity games, again looked at the big picture, this time regarding Hannibal’s offense.

“We’ve still got plenty of room for improvement,” Anders said.

Anders’ assessment, however, might have been a bit harsh, considering the Pirates are averaging 410 yards per game and converting 53 percent of their third downs.

Defensively, Hannibal was led in tackles by defensive back Cameron Davis and linebacker Dylan Bock, each with six. The Pirates defense had 11 tackles for minus yardage and held Fulton to 36 net yards of offense.

“We focused this past week on cleaning up our game, and playing with a sense of urgency,” Gschwender said.

Hannibal returns to NCMC play next Friday when it travels to Mexico (1-3, 1-0 NCMC), which defeated Marshall 21-14 Friday night. Hannibal has defeated Mexico the past six years.

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