GRANDVIEW, Mo. — Platte County not only lost a fifth fumble late in the third quarter, but the Pirates were called for a block in the back on the play and a personal foul in the scrum for the loose ball. On the very next play, Grandview running back Ja’Kori Bell ran smack into a pair of Pirates’ defenders, spinning to a wide-open left side of the field.
Bell sprinted to the pylon untouched for his second touchdown in two minues, and Platte County’s hopes of stopping its losing streak at two were in severe jeopardy. Grandview went on to a 32-12 win Friday, Oct. 2 at Grandview High School.
“Definitely frustrating,” Platte County coach Bill Utz said. “We didn’t necessarily do bad things. We moved the ball, but we just turned it over.”
For the second time in three weeks, Platte County (5-3) committed five turnovers in a loss. The Pirates have fallen to 1-3 in Suburban Conference Blue Division play, one year after a large portion of the current roster helped earn them a share of the league crown.
Platte County’s reshuffled defense, now prominently featuring former offensive contributors Conner Welch (defensive end) and Willie Smith (linebacker), again showed flashes of potential. However, the Pirates’ offense under senior cornerback-turned-quarterback Lloyd Lockett continued to show inconsistency in his third start since replacing injured junior Justin Mitchell.
Two late touchdown drives, including Lockett’s 66-yard run on the game’s final play, accounted for 177 of Platte County’s 343 yards of offense.
“It looked better. We moved the ball. We did things we could do,” Utz said. “That’s been evolving. In a week’s time, I thought our offense looked a lot better, except for the turnovers.”
Platte County’s best two drives of the first half failed to produce points and helped continue a scoreless stretch that started in the fourth quarter of a five-turnover, 50-24 loss to Belton and continued in last week’s 36-0 loss to Kearney.
Grandview took a 6-0 lead when Marshaun Swift took a punt snap late in the first quarter and opted not to kick. Instead, he rolled right and weaved down the vistor’s sideline before cutting back to the middle to finish off a 74-yard touchdown run.
Platte County running back Mike McNair, who finished with 116 yards on 25 carries, responded by driving the Pirates to the Bulldogs’ 2, but he fumbled on the next play. After the teams’ exchanged punts, Platte County again reached the red zone on a 23-yard run from McNair.
Four plays later, Grandview stuffed McNair for a loss on fourth and 2 from the 4 to halt another scoring opportunity.
“I think we needed (the touchdown),” Utz said. “There was an opportunity where we probably could’ve hit a field goal, decided to go for it. I felt we needed momentum. I think that’s what we’re lacking. If we just have a little bit of positive stuff, I think that’s what we need.
“It forces us to take chances you don’t necessarily want to take.”
Platte County safety Johnny Blankenship — at that spot for a second straight week in the wake of injuries to junior quarterback Justin Mitchell and senior safety Tyler Clemens — intercepted a long pass at the Pirates’ 38 and returned it 3 yards. On the next play, McNair fumbled an exchange with Lockett that Grandview recovered with 1 minute, 29 seconds left in the first half.
Grandview then negotiated a 39-yard, 2-minute drill drive, capped with a touchdown pass from Reginald Collier to Ronny Johnson, Jr. to go up 12-0 at the break.
The score remained there until Alex Minter’s fumble set up Bell’s first touchdown run, and Lockett fumbled three plays later at the end of a long third-down run that would’ve given the Pirates a first down in Bulldogs’ territory. Platte County’s Zach Hamilton came out of the pile with the ball, but the referees ruled Grandview possessed the ball prior to the senior wide receiver coming up with it.
After the personal foul penalty, Bell pinballed into the end zone to make it 24-0 with Grandview’s second touchdown in a span of a minute and a half.
“Actually, defense played pretty good — pretty good the first half, pretty good most of the second half,” Utz said. “But we can’t have turnovers the way we did, and they were costly. They’re just costly turnovers.
“I don’t care who you are. You have five turnovers, you can’t win.”
Platte County scored its first points in eight quarters on the next drive with Lockett gaining 53 of his game-high 147 yards rushing on quarterback draws and making four of his six completions. McNair finished the drive with a 4-yard run, but Grandview stuffed Lockett on the two-point try to keep the lead at three possessions with only 10:37 to play.
Lockett’s late touchdown dash came after Grandview extended its lead out rather than take a knee, leaving Platte County reeling entering the regular season finale at home against Raytown South (3-5), a winner last week against Winnetonka and competitive in every game this year behind star senior quarterback Jabril Cox.
Platte County, still No. 3 in the most recent Class 4 District 8 standings behind Kearney and Smithville, needed a late flurry of points last year to fend off the Cardinals playing without Cox. The Pirates won 35-34 to clinch part of a three-way share of the Blue Division title.