Sept. 13 Game Recap: Marquette 42, Kirkwood 23


Natalie Sweesy

Senior wide receiver Melvin Simmons (23) beats Marquette’s defense to score a 43-yard touchdown to give KHS a 14-7 lead late in the first half. Photo by Natalie Sweesy/Pioneer Yearbook.

Tom Mueller and Hayden Davidson

KHS varsity football lost 42-23 to the Marquette Mustangs on Friday, Sept. 13. The Pioneers (now 1-2) got off to a strong start in the first half against the Mustangs (now 3-0), but their offensive momentum disappeared in the second half. 

KHS scored the first points of the game with a 76-yard touchdown pass from Kannon Nesslage, junior, to junior Jackson Fortner — Fortner’s fifth receiving touchdown through three games — with 3:13 remaining in the first quarter. With 10:12 remaining in the second quarter, however, the Pioneers experienced their first miscue of the game, with Nesslage throwing an interception that was returned 25 yards for a touchdown. KHS responded with a 34-yard touchdown pass from Nesslage to Melvin Simmons, senior, with 2:02 remaining in the second quarter, giving the Pioneers an eventual 14-7 halftime lead. 

“I was just trying to play my best [and to] bring everybody else [together] so we could keep fighting,” Simmons said. “I [tried to] keep the same energy from the jumpas soon as the coin was tossed–[throughout the game].”

Apart from a 27-yard field goal by David Bregande, senior, less than four minutes into the second half, neither team gained a definitive advantage in the third quarter, which ended with the Pioneers holding a 17-7 lead. The fourth quarter significantly reversed the game’s narrative. Characterized by Pioneer turnovers, the fourth quarter also saw a statistical explosion from junior Marquette running back Chris Kreh. He amassed four consecutive touchdowns (11:31, 8:21, 6:10 and 3:59 minutes remaining, respectively, for each touchdown) that gave Marquette a 35-17 lead. Although a second touchdown connection between Nesslage and Simmons with 3:03 remaining in the game halted the Mustangs’ offensive onslaught momentarily, the Pioneers lacked the energy they displayed in the first half, and Kreh rushed for another touchdown on the ensuing possession. 

“The number one stat that determines wins and losses in high school football is turnovers, and when you lose the [turnover battle] three to nothing —with one of them being a pick-six — [then it’s hard to win],” Farrell Shelton, varsity head coach, said. “All [winning] football [games] comes down to [for] us is blocking and tackling, and we’re not doing either of them very well right now.”

One recurring bright spot for the Pioneers throughout the game, however, was their defensive pass rush. Linebackers Cameron Macon, senior, and Jack Matousek, junior, each recorded two sacks, and defensive lineman Devrin Williams Jr., senior, had a sack as well.  In addition to continuing to effectively pressure the opposing quarterback, Matousek believes that the team needs to show more toughness when faced with adversity. 

“People just gave up,” Matousek said. “We let ourselves get blocked, let ourselves get too emotional [and] let the other team just run all over us and do what they wanted to do.”

KHS’s next game is an away game against the Rockwood Summit Falcons (3-0) on Friday, Sept. 20. Containing the opponent’s rushing attack could be the game’s deciding factor, as the Pioneers have allowed 415 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns in the past two games. Shelton said that executing the game plan is critical for the team to have success throughout the rest of the season. 

“We executed our game plan, we stuck with our game plan, and Marquette did not do one thing that we hadn’t prepared for, just like with Francis Howell,” Shelton said. “As a coach, I’ve got to find out what’s happening there. Why is it not translating over to the kids?”


*Full game stats courtesy of (see box score and scoring summary here)