It’s a good thing that Harrisonville had a 14-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Because Missouri River Valley West conference foes Excelsior Springs came roaring back, and the Wildcats just survived a 35-14 victory for homecoming Sept. 27 at Memorial Stadium.
“We started out well, then we got a little flat,” Harrisonville senior running back Mason Saffels said. “It was a good start but I think we got too comfortable. We picked it back up in the second half.”
Harrisonville started things of in the first quarter with a 15-yard touchdown run by Saffels. The point after kick by Ben Styron failed, but the Wildcats led 6-0.
After the Tigers turned over the ball on downs on the 40-yard line, Harrisonville got a quick first down on a pass from senior quarterback Zach Davidson to Saffels on the 5-yard line. Davidson carried the ball to the 2-yard line and senior running back Austin Hopper made it to the 1-yard line. Davidson pushed the ball into the end zone for a touchdown at the 2:12 minute mark. Davidson carried the ball in for a two-point conversion and the Wildcats led 14-0.
In the second quarter, Excelsior Springs once again turned the ball over on downs, this time on the 34-yard line. After a delay of game penalty to the 29-yard line, Saffels took the ball 71 yards for a touchdown at the 7:35 minute mark.
“It was good blocking on the back side of my cutbacks and being able to see the field,” Saffels said. “I had good blocking on a lot of my back door cuts.”
The Wildcats didn’t hang on to that 21-0 lead for long though as less than a minute later, Excelsior Springs senior quarterback Austin Creason connected with senior running back Nick Masoner for a 49-yard touchdown. The Tigers cut the lead to 21-7 at halftime.
In the third quarter, Harrisonville junior defensive lineman Tucker Schlesener picked up a fumble caused by senior defensive lineman Brock Kliewer sacking Creason on the 42-yard line. The Wildcats took advantage of the possession with Hopper and Saffels carrying the ball down the field to the 20-yard line. Junior running back Sherman Hartzler carried in the touchdown at the 2:16 minute mark to put Harrisonville ahead 28-7.
In the fourth quarter, the Wildcats scored again, this time on a 46-yard carry by Saffels with less than five minutes left to play. Excelsior Springs responded with a 21-yard pass for a touchdown to make the final score 35-14.
Saffels led on the ground with 187 yards on 10 carries. Hopper had 106 yards on 19 carries.
Brance Neal had 13 total tackles and one pass break-up. Landon Hern had nine tackles and Schlesener had nine tackles and one fumble recovery. Kliewer had seven tackles and one sack and Mathew Bartlett had six tackles and one sack.
The Wildcats, 4-1, travel to Grain Valley to take on the Eagles in a conference battle at 1 p.m. Saturday.