Third-year Platte County head Coach Bill Utz was asked prior to his team’s 2010 season opener what he thought the final score might be against Grain Valley.

Third-year Platte County head Coach Bill Utz was asked prior to his team’s 2010 season opener what he thought the final score might be against Grain Valley.

“That’s so hard to say, because these are such two evenly matched teams,” he said.

Perhaps the understatement of the day, Utz watched his team battle back from a 13-7 deficit late in the third quarter and hold on with key defensive stops as well as some help from a shoddy Grain Valley kicking game as the Pirates held on for a 14-13 victory over the Grain Valley Eagles.

“We had a lot of mental mistakes, but when it came down to it, we had kids make plays,” Utz said.

Grain Valley had several opportunities to score but missed two field goals, the last miss coming with three minutes left in the ballgame, essentially sealing the Platte County win.

“I thought our special teams played well, except for the kicking game,” Grain Valley coach Forrest Rovello said. “We missed that PAT and the field goal, that’s not good. We’ve got another kicker, we may have to take a look at him.”

“We just had some missed opportunities, we need to be more consistent,” Rovello said of his offense. “We’ve got some kids that are going to have to grow up fast, we just didn’t get it done on the offensive side of the ball.”

As for new quarterback Jeremy Maynard, Rovello was pleased with how the junior handled his first game as a starter.

“He threw some good balls, and kids made some nice catches, he threw some bad balls and kids didn’t make some catches. For a lot of these guys, this is their first year starting varsity football, so we’ve gotta get ‘em matured and playing better.”

Platte County junior quarterback Krae Kelso struggled getting on the same page with his receivers all night, but made plays with his feet, including running the ball seven times for 82 yards in the second half. The lanky right-hander finished the game leading all rushers with 113 yards on only 10 carries, including scoring the go-ahead touchdown in the third quarter.

“Kelso’s a shifty runner, he showed that, and he made plays tonight,” Utz said of his quarterback.

Grain Valley grabbed the early lead in the first quarter when it marched 75 yards on its first possession of 2010. Maynard didn’t disappoint early despite fumbling his second snap of the game. Facing a third-and-13, the 6-foot-3, 185-pound Maynard threw a dart to Dylan Farrell, a common theme all night, that was good for 23 yards and extended the drive. Two plays later, Maynard went to the air again, this time connecting for 44 yards with Zac Hoover, and the Eagles were in business at the Platte County 6-yard-line. Riley Williams capped the seven-play scoring drive with a 5-yard touchdown run and the Eagles led 7-0.

The teams would swap possessions for the next few minutes before Platte County put its own scoring drive together in the second quarter, a run heavy drive that featured plenty of Kelso and junior running back Joe Brown, who rushed three times for 23 yards on the march. Senior running back Cody Deterding finished the eight-play, 44-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run that knotted the game at 7-7.

“Joe has shown signs of good things all preseason, and he stepped up and did that tonight both running the ball and making plays on defense,” Utz said of the junior running back.

One of the biggest moments in the game came late in the half as Grain Valley, on its next possession, used two huge passing plays from Maynard to Farrell, including a 26-yard touchdown pass, to re-take the lead. However junior kicker Alec Velasquez’s PAT attempt was blocked and that left the score 13-7 at halftime.

Platte County scored its go-ahead touchdown with 2:14 left in the third quarter when Kelso scored his lone touchdown of the night on an 8-yard run that left several Grain Valley defenders grasping at air.