TROY, Mo. — Aneyas Williams was too upset to be tired Saturday night as he walked off the field following Hannibal’s 42-40 loss to Troy Buchanan.
Williams, the Pirates’ all-everything junior star, did his part, rushing for 247 yards, scoring four touchdowns, making seven tackles and forcing a fumble. He came off the field for just two plays in a marathon game that lasted nearly four hours thanks to a nearly 90-minute storm delay during halftime.
“You can’t come out like that against a good Troy team,” Williams said after the Pirates trailed 28-14 at the break. “We went out too slow. We made too many errors. … I think this is a good humbling experience for the team. I think our heads are a little too high and we are getting humbled week by week, but that team in the second half was a damn good team. I’m happy with where we are at.”
Hannibal trailed by two touchdowns twice and fought its way back into the game each time. Things looked bleak for the Pirates (1-2) when Troy quarterback Charos Sutton connected with Ethan Lollar on a 15-yard touchdown pass. That gave the Trojans (2-1) a 42-28 lead with 9 minutes, 36 seconds to play.
As long as Williams is in the backfield, the Pirates always have a chance.
He answered by scoring on a 42-yard scamper with 8:41 to play. After a penalty on Troy on Hannibal’s first extra-point attempt, the Pirates chose to go for two and Williams was stuffed by a horde of Trojans, leaving Hannibal trailing 42-34.
Hannibal got the ball back immediately as senior Ashton Watts recovered an onside kick. Four plays later, Williams scored from 15 yards out. A two-point pass failed as the Pirates trailed 42-40 with 7:15 to play.
Hannibal’s defense made a key play as the Pirates poked the ball away from Sutton. Hannibal’s Kane Wilson recovered the fumble, giving Hannibal a chance to take its first lead of the game.
The Pirates drove the ball to the Troy 26-yard line with two minutes to play. However, Troy freshman Xzavion Ammon sacked Hannibal quarterback Waylon Anders on fourth down, and the Trojans were able to run out the clock to secure the win.
“We’re dangerous when the momentum is going our way,” Hannibal coach Jeff Gschwender said. “We just have to correct our mistakes. I feel like we’ve lost two games this year because we beat ourselves. We shot ourselves in the foot too many times. Against a well-coached team, you just can’t do that.”
Hannibal fell behind 14-0 early as Sutton threw several deep balls to beat the Pirates’ secondary. As it did all night, Hannibal fought back. Markahl Humphrey got Hannibal on the board with a 9-yard touchdown run with nine seconds left in the first quarter. A few minutes later, Hannibal’s Jack Parker tipped a Sutton pass that Humphrey intercepted. That led to a 10-play scoring drive which Williams capped with a 1-yard run to tie the game at 14 with 4:50 left in the first half.
Troy reclaimed the lead when Nick Bova returned a punt 72 yards for a touchdown with 1:53 to play. The Trojans punched in another score in the final minute of the half when Brett Smith scored from a yard out.
“We told them to keep their heads up because there was a lot of time left,” Gschwender said. “We proved that and were able to turn it back into a game.”
A capacity crowd was forced out of the stadium after the Troy band left the field for its halftime performance because of storms in the area. The lightning delay lasted around 90 minutes.
Williams continued to bring the thunder in the second half. One play after a Troy touchdown pushed the lead to 35-14, Williams zipped around left end and raced untouched for an 80-yard touchdown.
Hannibal cut the score to 35-28 when Anders found Humphrey wide open downfield for a 53-yard touchdown pass on the first play of the fourth quarter.
Williams finished with 282 total yards. He also averaged 41.5 yards on four punt attempts and converted on all four of his point-after touchdown kicks. When he wasn’t kicking the ball in punt formation, he was running around and through would-be Troy tacklers. He pulled off two fake punts that went for first downs, running over a hapless Trojan defender on the second one.
Williams also made an unbelievable play in the first half when Smith picked off a pass downfield from Anders. Williams used his strength to pull the ball away from Smith as the two went to the turf. The officials called the play an interception and a fumble recovery by Williams. That play preceded the Pirates’ first score.
It was far from a one-man show for Hannibal. Humphrey had 152 total yards — 75 rushing and 77 receiving. Anders completed 16 of 20 passes for 192 yards. He completed his final 10 attempts. Watts paced the Hannibal defense with nine tackles and forced a fumble.
“We schedule these games for a reason,” Williams said. “This is a learning experience for all of these guys. We’re a pretty young team, so these are just building blocks for this team. We’re going to take things in stride and run with it.”
Hannibal opens North Central Missouri Conference play Friday at Fulton. The Hornets are 1-2 after picking up their first win of the season Friday with a 31-20 victory at Westran.
Miss Clipping Out Stories to Save for Later?
Click the Purchase Story button below to order a print of this story. We will print it for you on matte photo paper to keep forever.Purchase Story