Sept. 6 Game Recap: Francis Howell 24, Kirkwood 14

Hayden Davidson and Tom Mueller

KHS varsity football fell to the Francis Howell Vikings by a score of 24-14 on Friday, Sept. 6. The Pioneers entered the game with a 1-0 record following a 61-35 win against the Jefferson City Jays, but their offensive drought against the Vikings ultimately led to their defeat.

Hayden Davidson
Senior Cameron Macon, linebacker/running back

Howell’s unanswered scoring in the first half created a deficit too large for the Pioneers to overcome. Juniors Reid Weber and Jackson Hetzel scored 54-yard and 31-yard receiving touchdowns, respectively, giving the Vikings a 14-0 lead over KHS in the first quarter. Although Cameron Macon, senior, stole a possession from the Vikings with an interception early in the second quarter, the Pioneers couldn’t capitalize on their ensuing possession. They eventually allowed a Howell field goal with six seconds remaining in the first half that gave the Vikings a 17-0 halftime lead. 

“Heading in, we knew they had a good offense [and that] their running back was good, so we were trying to key off him [and] their quarterback,” Macon said. “We knew their tendencies, [but] sometimes they didn’t [follow] those tendencies. We just didn’t play our best.”

Energized by the halftime intermission, the Pioneers displayed their big-play capability through junior Jackson Fortner’s 59-yard punt return touchdown in the middle of the third quarter. KHS’s defense provided a critical stop on the following possession, forcing the Vikings to punt the football. Fortner returned the punt for 19 yards, which gave the Pioneers starting field position in Howell territory. Gerald Jackson, junior, capped off the drive with a one-yard rushing touchdown with just over a minute remaining in the third quarter. 

Hayden Davidson
Junior Jackson Fortner, defensive back/wide receiver

“I visualized [creating] big plays for the team during the day, [so] I feel like that prepared me for the game,” Fortner said. “When we went into the half down 17-0, I knew that we were going to have to get a big play. I wanted to get our team [fired] up.”

After Jackson’s rushing touchdown cut Howell’s lead to 17-14 heading into the fourth quarter, the Vikings’ star running back Gideon Niboh, senior, responded with a 44-yard receiving touchdown that restored their 10-point lead and squashed the Pioneers’ hopes of coming back. 

Although they lost, the Pioneers defensive unit consistently showed toughness and the ability to manufacture stops when needed. Jason Petty, junior, recorded six tackles, with three of them coming on consecutive Howell plays in the second quarter. 

“[The] best part about the game was facing adversity and [our team] not giving up when the odds were against us,” Petty said. “We need to improve on not coming out dry; we need to come out of the gates [aggressively] like we always do.” 

KHS hosts Marquette in their home opener (which was originally scheduled for the first game of the season against Jefferson City but was relocated due to inclement weather) on Friday, Sept. 13. Stimulating more offensive rushing production must be a focal point for the Pioneers in this game, as the rushing attack combined for -6 yards on 18 carries against the Vikings. Last year, the Pioneers beat the Mustangs 58-20 in their week three matchup, but, according to Macon, the team needs to follow the process that they always do. 

“We’ll get into our film, we’ll watch what they do,” Macon said. “It’s a new week, we’ll come back with a new mentality, and hopefully get a win against them.”


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