Sophomore QB engineers another NCMC blowout as Hannibal closes in on league crown
HANNIBAL, Mo. — When those early autumn breezes began to turn cold, the Hannibal Pirates were something to behold.
Especially quarterback Waylon Anders.
The sophomore enjoyed his finest game to date, accenting what had already been a breakout season. Anders led high-scoring Hannibal to another one-sided victory, this one a 53-7 dismantling of Moberly in a North Central Missouri Conference encounter Friday night at Porter Stadium.
Hannibal (5-2, 4-0 NCMC) led 40-0 at halftime. The second half was played with a running clock.
Hannibal has scored 40 or more points in six straight starts, and is now averaging 45.6 points per game. That’s a pace that will erase the 2015 team’s record average of 43.5 points per game.
Anders continued his own assault on the Hannibal record book when completed 16 of 18 passes for a season-best 261 yards and three touchdowns.
“Waylon is a sharp kid,” Hannibal coach Jeff Gschwender said. “He’s well ahead of where we originally expected him to be. He’s really something else.”
Anders has completed 81 of 108 passes this season, good for 1,073 yards and 13 touchdowns. The 5-foot-7, 146-pound right-hander has been picked off just three times and has thrown at least one touchdown pass in all seven games.
“I don’t really pay attention to the numbers — except completion percentage,” Anders said.
Anders feels solid numbers in that specific area means he’s getting the ball to where — and to whom — it should be going.
Anders’ completion percentage, by the way, is a nifty .750. The school record is .630, established two years ago by Courtland Watson. Only twice in Pirates history has a quarterback completed more than 60 percent of his throws.
Gschwender raves about Anders’ feel for the game. The rookie senses when to go for the jugular, and “he also knows when to back it down,” according to Gschwender.
Anders, who now has Hannibal’s 10th-highest single-season passing yardage total (with at least three games remaining), said he appreciates the Hannibal coaching staff allowing him to open up the offense via the pass.
“I think that makes us more dangerous and worries the opposing defense even more,” Anders said.
Anders’ touchdown throws against Moberly went to Kane Wilson (8 yards), Aneyas Williams (47 yards) and Haden Robertson (4 yards). In fairness to Williams, he turned a simple screen pass from Anders into a highlight-reel scoring jaunt with some impressive sidestepping and bulldozing of defenders.
Anders has also charged into Hannibal’s top season totals for touchdown passes (No. 5) and completions (No. 4)
Williams, the Pirates’ highly recruited junior running back who already has offers from most elite NCAA Division I programs, rushed for 145 yards on 12 carries and scored two touchdowns. He did not carry the ball in the second half.
Williams ran for scores from 21 yards and 31 yards, and finished the night with four receptions for 104 more yards.
“It’s fun just to get (Williams) the ball and just stand back and watch,” Anders said.
Williams crossed the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the first time in his career and now sits at 1,136 yards for the season. He pushed his career total to 2,614 yards, good for ninth on the all-time Hannibal chart.
Williams’ three overall touchdowns against Moberly improved his career scoring total to 615 points, a record for both the Muddy River Sports region and Hannibal. He entered the game tied with Shamar Griffith (2013-16) for the Pirates’ career scoring lead at 597 points.
Williams, who now has 96 career touchdowns, also moved past Carthage’s Ashton Gronewold for the all-time area scoring lead. Gronewold, whose last season at Carthage was in 2003, finished his career with 614 points.
Hannibal will put a four-game win streak on the line next week at Marshall when it tries to wrap up its 11th NCMC title in the last 15 years. Hannibal has won 79 of its last 84 NCMC games.
“Our No. 1 goal right now is to just keep improving, getting better,” Robertson said.
Robertson, a senior wide receiver/defensive back, said he felt the turning point of the season came in week five against Mexico, a 49-8 Hannibal win.
“That’s when we started to feel everything coming together,” Robertson said.
Friday night served as an exclamation mark to Robertson’s point when Hannibal matched its season scoring high first reached in a 53-28 win at Jefferson City in week two.
Hannibal’s other three touchdowns against Moberly came via running backs Markahl Humphrey and Michael Ferreira. Humphrey scored on runs of 2 and 28 yards, with Ferreira crossing the goal line from 3 yards out.
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