Raytown South’s backup quarterback engineered a quick touchdown drive in the final minute of the second quarter, deflating the Pirates’ spirit after a concentrated comeback effort. However, Reed scooped up the ensuing squib kickoff and raced 75 yards down an increasingly excited visitor’s sideline at Ted Chittwood Stadium, beating the final two Raytown South defenders to the end zone.
The extra point gave Platte County its first lead in the regular season finale, and the Pirates didn’t trail again on the way to a 35-34 victory.
The victory assured Platte County of a three-way share of the Suburban League Blue Division title — the second in three years for the Pirates — and sends them into the Class 4 District 8 tournament with an 8-1 record. Not many predicted this youthful group with only six seniors could reach this level this quickly.
“This team has a lot of heart; we figure out ways to win,” Platte County senior linebacker Topher Kilkenny said. “I love our team.”
In a wild Blue Division season, Platte County also beat Winnetonka after the Griffins’ Division I-bound star Marquise Doherty went down with a 1st-quarter shoulder injury. Winnetonka went on the clip Kearney in their matchup to force the three-way share. The Pirates won the Blue Division outright in 2012 with only one loss on their conference ledger, accounting for the only other Suburban League crown since joining in 2007.
Platte County finished 3-7 in 2013.
Platte County owns the No. 2 seed in District 8 and hosts Benton at 7 p.m., Oct. 24 in the first-round of an always difficult eight-team field. The Pirates have won two straight since a blowout loss to Kearney, which owns their bracket’s top seed.
The winner between Platte County and Benton faces either third-seeded Smithville (7-2) with losses to Class 5 undefeated Park Hill and Class 3 No. 1 Maryville or sixth-seeded Savannah (6-3). Smithville won the regular-season matchup between the two.
“It’s a testament to these guys and the work they put into it,” Platte County coach Bill Utz said. “(The district)’s nails. You have to look at the No. 1 seed in Kearney. What are they third in the state and came off two weeks ago and kind of gave us anything they wanted? That’s tough, and you’ve got the whole MEC, and that’s a heck of a conference, too.
“It’s going to be a fun district.”
For the second time in a charmed run, Platte County benefited from an injured standout.
Raytown South junior quarterback Jabril Cox led touchdown drives just past the midway point in each of the first two quarters, throwing for one score and running for another. Platte County responded and broke the shutout with an 8-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Justin Mitchell to senior Tyler Cooper.
Cox came up limping on Raytown South’s second touchdown drive after taking a shot to his knee on a tackle from Platte County senior defensive end Devin Perry but eventually finished the march with a 1-yard sneak. He went down for good on defense with an undetermined injury on the play that resulted in Cooper’s score.
Cox (129 yards of offense in 1½ quarters) did not return and spent the second half in shorts, his jersey and no pads nor helmet.
After a stop, Mitchell threw his second touchdown pass, hitting Reed for 18 yards on a corner route that finished with a highlight-reel grab that tied the score at 14 with 41 seconds left in the half.
Scoring was far from over.
Raytown South (6-3) marched down the field, and running back Isaiah Hutchinson (game-high 123 rushing yards) broke off a 43-yard score on a delayed draw, and after a failed two-point conversion, the Cardinals led 20-14 with 5 seconds left before the break. Then came Reed’s kick return left, which came after a 47-yard runback earlier in the game.
“I thought they were going to kick it deep so they could end the time,” said Reed, who scored twice after being held out of the end zone in three straight games since the win against Winnetonka. “I heard their coach say, ‘Kick it on the ground,” so I picked it up, we set a wedge, and I took it home.”
Mitchell added a pair of touchdown runs in the second half on his way to 180 yards of offense. The second came after his costly interception allowed Raytown South’s Henry Lanear to throw a 9-yard touchdown pass to complete a 13-yard drive and close the Cardinals within 28-26 early in the fourth quarter.
Lanear, who finished with 62 yards passing in emergency duty, struck again and added a two-point pass with 6:01 to play to close Raytown South within 35-34.
Platte County managed to run out the remainder with repeated big runs from junior running back Alex Minter (100 yards on the ground). Pirates sophomore wide receiver TJ Guillory added team-highs of four catches for 66 yards, accounting for the bulk of Mitchell’s 10-for-21, 167-yard passing performance.