Last week the Grain Valley football team forced several turnovers and it propelled them to a big win over Sedalia Smith-Cotton, but Friday night at Pleasant Hill, the tables were turned on the Eagles and the Roosters were the benefactor this time around.
They turned three Grain Valley turnovers in the first half into 17 points, helping them pull away for a 52-21 win.
“The turnovers were huge. They're not a bad team,” Roosters head coach Kyle Roach said. “Big plays and turnovers can change momentum.”
And the Roosters had both on this night.
Pleasant Hill's game plan was a pretty obvious one from the start. With a noticeable size advantage on the offensive line, they pounded the ball often with the run game with plenty of success.
The Roosters’ third drive of the game took nearly eight minutes off the game clock, as they ran 15 plays – 12 of them runs – and capped the drive with a 5-yard touchdown run from Josh Shewmaker to make it 17-7.
“They were bigger and more physical than us,” Grain Valley head coach Jimmy Tucker said.
The run game started to set up some big plays in the passing game, as well. After Shewmaker's touchdown run, cornerback Cole Miller picked off a pass two plays into the Eagles' next drive to give the Roosters great field possession.
On the very next play, Shewmaker found Tyler Sanford from 28 yards out for a score, and in a matter of less than a minute the score had gone from 10-7 to 24-7.
“We can throw it, but we just like to do it on our own terms,” Roach said. “You can get the defense sucked up if you run it well, and that's what happened in the second quarter and we got them on some play-action passes.”
The Eagles answered with an 82-yard scoring drive to stay close as Kellen Holland hooked up with Evan Velasquez from 12 yards out to make it 24-14.
But Pleasant Hill answered in a hurry themselves, this time from 34 yards out on a nice running throw by Shewmaker and leaping grab in the end zone by Sanford.
The Roosters all but put the game away after another Grain Valley turnover just before halftime, this one a fumble, as Shewmaker found Brandon Cassity on a 20-yard screen pass with for a score with 26 seconds left to make it 38-14.
“We answered their big plays with scoring drives,” Roach said.
“I was disappointed that they got a couple of big plays,” Tucker said. “And I was disappointed in the turnovers and that we couldn't get stops on defense. But our guys are young and they kept fighting.”
Cassity and Kolin Rogers added touchdown runs in the second half as the Roosters piled up 326 rushing yards on 55 attempts with several players sharing the load.
“Our line is good. I'm proud of them. They work hard. And they can move; they're not just big,” Roach said. “We're running a new offense, and we knew if we could share the ball around we could keep people off balance. That's going to make us more effective running the ball.”
The Eagles got on the board once more when Holland found Hunter Ramirez for a 54-yard score. The offense did have a few nice drives, and Holland finished with nearly 300 yards passing, but the turnovers and lackluster defense were too much to overcome.
“Even though we lost, I hope they develop some confidence knowing they can compete against a really good team,” Tucker said. “And we've got to get stronger and more physical.”
Pleasant Hill moved to 5-0 in its first season in Class 4. A showdown with Class 3 fourth-ranked Oak Grove looms next week.
“Our kids understand the expectations. They know what it takes,” Roach said. “Our conference is terribly tough. Every week is a battle.”