Oct. 11 Game Recap: Eureka 21, Kirkwood 6

Daniel Tobias and Tom Mueller

The Kirkwood Pioneers varsity football team lost 21-6 to the Eureka Wildcats Friday, Oct. 11. Eureka didn’t allow a Kirkwood point, on a wet, 40-degree night, for the final 45 minutes of the 48-minute contest. As a result of their defensive effort, Eureka, now 6-1, managed to snap the Pioneers’ three-game winning streak.

Kirkwood struck first on a 1-yard run from Cameron Macon, senior, just under 3 minutes into the game. Receptions by juniors Will Lee and Jackson Fortner, 32-yards and 23-yards, respectively, on passes from Kannon Nesslage, junior, highlighted the opening drive. The Pioneers managed only six points on the drive, however, as an off-target snap resulted in the Pioneers’ failure to kick the PAT. This would be a sign of things to come for the offense.

The slick turf from two days of rain resulted in four fumbles for turnovers throughout the game. Kirkwood’s first recovery came at the 49-yard line on Eureka’s first drive of the game, recovered by Mekhi Macklin, junior. Towards the end of the first quarter, though, the Pioneers turned it over deep in the red zone. Eureka recovered the Kirkwood fumble, thwarting one of the Pioneers’ few opportunities to score in the red zone.

“We killed ourselves,” Macon said. “We made too many mistakes. We didn’t execute [when we had] opportunities.”

In the second quarter, the Pioneers’ offense continued to struggle and fumbled again as time wound down in the second half. The Wildcats’ first points came shortly after, passing for a touchdown with just 19 seconds left in the first half. Asher Weinberg, junior, said Eureka’s offensive line was a key to some of their offensive success.

“Their offensive line was probably the best offensive line I’ve ever faced at any time in my life,” Weinberg said. “Those guys are big and physical.”

Eureka opened up the third quarter with a 33-yard rushing touchdown that put them up by eight. Kirkwood’s offense proved shaky in the second half, with Nesslage throwing an interception to cap off a long night of turnovers. As Kirkwood’s offense remained dormant, Eureka added another touchdown in the fourth quarter on a 35-yard pass, which marked their final score of a productive offensive night.

“On the defensive side, we just needed to be more focused and wrap up on our tackles,” Macklin said. “[That way] there are fewer big plays like the ones Eureka had towards the end of the game.”

We killed ourselves. We made too many mistakes. We didn’t execute [when we had] opportunities.”

— Cameron Macon

The Pioneer offense once again relied on Fortner as he managed to tie his season-high in receiving yards with 132. On the ground, the Pioneers counted on Nate Jones, junior, who ran for 41 yards, also tying a season-high. Although he didn’t throw any passing touchdowns, Nesslage also recorded 339 yards, which, according to Macon, shows his potential for improvement. 

“I think Kannon did a great job of composing himself,” Macon said. “This was a huge game. They were a really good team. I give a lot of credit to that kid. He’s young and he’s still learning, but he did a great job.”

Kirkwood will have a bye next week before facing the undefeated Ladue Rams on Friday, Oct. 25. Many players believe the Pioneers will have to make some improvements if they are going to be ready for the game in two weeks.

“We’ve got a bye week this week, but we need to play with a lot of effort in practice — maybe even practice extra,” Macklin said. “We need to be mentally focused for the game.”

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