For 36 minutes Friday night at Raytown South High School, it appeared one perfect drive, two monster defensive plays and three touchdowns would help coach Matt Perry’s undefeated William Chrisman football team improve to 5-0.
But the Bears, ranked seventh in the state in Class 5, became their own worst enemy and saw a 21-14 lead slip away as the Cardinals claimed a 30-21 victory that left Perry shaking his head.
The Bears used a crisp, seven-play, 80-yard drive on their opening offensive series to take a quick 7-0 lead on Uriah Aleshire’s 6-yard touchdown run.
After the Cardinals scored a pair of touchdowns, Kelvyn Mason had a big interception and picked up a blocked punt by teammate Siaosi Nauer in the end zone to knot the score at 14-all with just 1:20 left in the half.
And quarterback Dawson Herl hit Mason on a pin-point perfect slant TD pass to make it 21-14 with 7:22 left in the third period.
That’s when the wheels fell off the Bears’ undefeated bus.
Penalties – nine offensive and eight defensive – helped the Cardinals come back to get a victory that will be hard to shake.
“I know one thing,” Bears coach Matt Perry said, as he hustled his players off the field and onto the bus for the long and quiet ride back to Chrisman, “I’m not going to get any sleep tonight.
“We beat ourselves. It’s that simple.”
The agony etched on his face showed the deep hurt he felt as he watched his team – a squad that is coming off an 8-2 season, which was the best in Chrisman history – commit a bevy of penalties on both sides of the ball.
“If it was one player, or even one group of players, making the mistakes,” Perry said, whose team fell to 4-1,” we’d make some changes. But it’s a new group of players every week.
“That’s what makes it so frustrating. But the first person I look at tonight is me. I did not coach very well tonight. I need to do a better job.
“We’ll look at the film from this game, and get back to work. And I hope we all learn from it. We have to quit making mistakes that take away first downs on offense and give teams added opportunities when we’re on defense.
“This is a wake up call – a big wake up call for all of us!”
There were some good things Perry can take from the game. His Bears rushed for 217 yards on 41 carries. Aleshire led all rushers with 23 carries for 139 yards.
Herl finished the game hitting 3 of 9 passes with the 22-yard touchdown to Mason and one late interception.
The Cardinals rushed for just 56 yards on 22 attempts. South quarterback Landon Montgomery was 10 of 16 for 80 yards.
South scored on a 3-yard and 8-yard runs by Jamaun Booker to go into the half tied 14-14.
A Lawrence Parker interception set up an 8-yard TD pass from Montgomery to Deon McKinney to knot the score at 21-all at 8:50 of the third period.
With 3:03 left in the game and Bears starting from their own 1, Christian Felix was gang-tackled in the end zone for a safety, making it a 23-21 game.
The 2-2 Cardinals then drove 50 yards, following a free kick, and scored the game clincher on a 21-yard touchdown run by Booker.