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Perryville football team shuts out East Prairie
PERRYVILLE, Mo. -- Senior Chris Zahner looked.
Of course he looked.
He'd seen it before, but not like this.
There was a running clock in the fourth quarter. But this time it wasn't Zahner and his Perryville teammates on the losing side.
This time Zahner and his teammates were the ones slapping each other's shoulder pads and celebrating a victory.
This time Zahner and his teammates were the ones with smiles on their faces as the clock expired.
"The feeling is completely unexplainable," he said. "I don't even know where to begin."
The Pirates bullied past East Prairie 41-0 for their first shutout since 2004, a span of 72 games. The last one came against Kennett on Oct. 29 by an indentical score to Friday's.
"The community now believes in us," Perryville junior Cody Crawford said. "We've got a lot of hearts following our team now. It's been a lot of bad years for Perryville, but we've got some good things going for us now."
The Pirates limited the Eagles to 98 yards, which all came on the ground.
"We had great contain," Perryville junior Jonny Pruiett said. "That was probably the biggest thing coming into the game was that we knew we had to stop their sweep. We just had amazing contain from our D ends."
The Eagles did attempt five passes, but three ended up in the hands of Perryville defenders. The other two fell incomplete. The Pirates also recovered a fumble.
"A couple of those were real game breakers," Perryville coach Mike Wojtczuk said. "We were bending a little bit on defense, and them guys come up with those interceptions."
East Prairie ran 45 plays, and 18 of them either went for no gain or lost yards.
"We were ready for coverage mainly, and they blitzed a lot," East Prairie running back Jerry Alexander said. "That threw us off a little bit. We'll get them next time."
Perryville's offense started cranking into gear in the second quarter. It started when Pruiett broke free around the left side for a 65-yard score on a third-and-9 play.
"Last season was real tough on me," he said. "It was just amazing. As soon as I saw the end zone, I was just like, ‘Oh my God, it's there, but I can't stop running.'"
The Pirates went to the air to set up their second score just before halftime. Zahner got behind the defense, and Perryville quarterback Tyler Holligan was able to loft a pass to his senior receiver. Zahner had enough time to wait for the pass and almost broke free into the end zone. But the East Prairie defense brought him down at the 1-yard line.
Holligan called his own number on the next play and plunged in for a 14-0 lead at the break. Wojtczuk liked the energy in his team's locker room at halftime, but he offered a warning.
"I said we need to put them away because that's one thing we failed to do," Wojtczuk said. "There were a couple times last year when we had some teams close to being on the ropes, and we let them slip through our fingers."
His team responded.
Holligan found Lucas Hotop over the middle for a touchdown on fourth-and-goal from the 8, then Crawford scored from 36 yards out after Pruiett returned a punt 27 yards.
Levi Zook's second interception of the night, this time on the first play of the fourth quarter, set up another score. Holligan connected with Zahner for a 42-yard gain for the second time in the game, and Pruiett finished the drive with a 2-yard run.
Devin Blandford capped the scoring with a 1-yard run.
The Pirates finished with 232 yards on the ground, and six of their 42 runs went for at least 10 yards.
"Our line just got a really good push every time," said Crawford, who ran for 81 yards. "Everybody stayed fired up. We just kept driving the ball. We just kept the hope up in our hearts so we could win this."
Pruiett tied Crawford for the team lead with 81 yards rushing, while Zook gained 33 yards on the ground.
"I can't say enough about my running backs," Wojtczuk said. "Kids have gotten in the weight room this year and they've gotten bigger, faster, stronger. You know, if that hadn't of happened, those guys wouldn't have been doing that. Those are the same guys last year who were getting brought down by one-arm tackling and things like that."
The Pirates got to celebrate that success for one night. A few cars honked their horns as they left the parking lot, and players dawdled longer than usual on the field after the game. Even the scoreboard stayed on, the final score brightly displayed much longer than usual.
"I tell you what, it's a great feeling, and it's one I want to keep feeling every Friday night," Wojtczuk said with a huge grin.
P -- Jonny Pruiett 65 run (pass failed), 5:39
P -- Tyler Holligan 1 run (Lucas Hotop pass from Holligan), 1:30
P -- Hotop 8 pass from Holligan (Levi Zook kick), 3:54
P -- Cody Crawford 36 run (Zook kick), :26
P -- Pruiett 2 run (kick failed), 9:55
P -- Devin Blandford 1 run (Zook kick), 5:13
RUSHING -- East Prairie, Brad Beck 10-20, Jerry Alexander 15-53, Adrian Soto 3-6, Mack Marcum 1-3, Blayn Goodding 7-14, No. 5 1-(-9), Brett Ellis 2-7, Frank Nave 1-4. Perryville, Cody Crawford 14-81, Jonny Pruiett 8-81, Tyler Holligan 6-5, Devin Blandford 4-9, Aaron Hadler 5-21, Levi Zook 3-33, Austin Mills 1-1, Kyle Welch 1-1.
PASSING -- East Prairie, Mack Marcum 0-4-0-3, No. 5 0-1-0-0. Perryville, Tyler Holligan 4-7-100-0.
RECEIVING -- Perryville, Von hagan 1-8, Chris Zahner 2-84, Lucas Hotop 1-8.