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Tuesday, Sep. 2, 2014

NMCC title hopes fall short

Monday, November 26, 2001

(Photo)
New Madrid County Central's Brian Murph tries to avoid Platte County's Zach Sherman (44), Travis Frogge (56) and Cory Williams (45).
ST. LOUIS - Two big plays by Dereke Tipler were not enough for New Madrid County Central to overcome the Platte County Pirates on Friday in the Class 3A Show-Me Bowl at the Trans World Dome in St. Louis.

The Eagles came up short in the fourth quarter to the Pirates, falling 21-14.

Platte County has now won consecutive state championships with back-to-back 14-0 seasons. They've also won 40 of their last 41 games.

After years of disappointing playoff exits, it was NMCC's first-ever appearance in the Show-Me Bowl.

Even with the loss, first-year NMCC head coach Steve Rogers was full of praise.

"I think this season may have put football on the map at New Madrid County Central," said Rogers. "I couldn't be more pleased with the guys. We have 13 seniors that gave it everything they had. They have nothing to be ashamed of. I'm very proud of the effort today. It was a treat for us to play in the dome. We just had a great time and this is a day they'll never forget."

The last two years, Platte County hadn't even been hardly challenged -- no team had come closer than two touchdowns of the Pirates.

But NMCC (12-2) appeared ready to pull off the upset of the top-ranked Pirates.

Tipler returned a punt 64 yards for a score and added a 67-yard TD reception in the fourth quarter to tie the game at 14-14.

But Platte County marched 65 yards in seven plays capped by Rob Campbell's 5-yard TD run on a quarterback sneak to give the Pirates a 21-14 lead.

One play earlier, Campbell completed a momentum swinging 46-yard pass to David Poolman on 3rd-and-13.

"We felt like we needed to take a chance there and make something happen," said Platte County head coach Chip Sherman.

It paid off.

NMCC had two possessions in the final eight minutes of the game but were held to three-and-outs both times.

The Eagles had a great chance to score when they took over possession with 4:17 left in the game at the Pirate 46. But quarterback Brian Murph was intercepted by Chase Verdoorn on 3rd-and-14 to seal the game.

"I was hoping maybe we could get a little magic that last drive, maybe get a tipped ball and score one and tie it up and maybe be co-champs," said Rogers.

The Pirates were able to run out the remaining 2:46 to clinch the title.

"All that matters to the kids is that they're standing there at the end as state champions," said Sherman. "Sometimes they're ugly, but a win's a win. When you've won 40 out of your last 41 games, and 28 in a row, the kids know how to win."

Platte County was able to shut down NMCC's big-play offense for nearly the entire game.

The Eagles gained a season-low 126 yards of offense with just 51 coming on the ground.

Tipler entered the game needing 45 yards to break the NMCC single-season record for rushing yards, but Platte County held him to a season-low 25 yards on 15 carries. He was held to four carries for minus-four yards in the second half.

But what he couldn't get done on the ground, he made up for in other areas. His 64-yard punt return down the right sideline broke a scoreless tie with 5:02 left in the second quarter.

The lead was shortlived as Platte County's Poolman returned the ensuing kick 91 yards to tie the game at 7-7. It was the first ever kick return for a score in a 3A championship.

"We had the momentum going and then we let it get away from us," said Rogers.

The Pirates took the momentum and dominated the second half, out-gaining NMCC 188 to 61.

Although the Pirates missed a 41-yard field goal to start the second half, they established superiority on the line, which may have played a part in fatigue for the Eagles late in the game.

"They just physically whipped us," said Rogers. "I think the way they dominated the second half was the telling point in the ballgame. Our kids wore down a little bit. We're in great shape but we're not used to being physically manhandled like that."

Platte County took a 14-7 lead on the first play of the fourth quarter on a 7-yard TD run by Zach Sherman, capping a four-play, 42-yard drive.

But on NMCC's ensuing possession, Tipler struck once again. On 3rd-and-15, he took a swing pass 67 yards down the left sideline for the tying touchdown.

"We talked all week long about not giving them any big plays -- and you saw how they scored," said Sherman. "When we lost discipline for one second, those kids were gone. One time we punted down the middle, boom, there he goes. Another time we don't pursue in the correct lanes, there he goes. They've got a lot of great athletes. We were trying to play our team against their great athletes. You can't give them the ball and space, especially on turf. It shows you how quick someone with that kind of speed can strike on you."

But NMCC's defense couldn't hold as Platte County scored the eventual game-winning touchdown on its next possession.

Zach Sherman, the son of the head coach, picked up 162 yards on 37 carries.

"The Sherman kid is a tough, tough kid," said Rogers. "But I guarantee he hasn't been hit like he was hit today. He earned every one of those yards he got today. We put a few pretty good pops on him. They've got a great line, they basically manhandled our defensive front with a good fullback leading the way. I'd like to see Dereke (Tipler) behind that line. We got off a couple of big plays but other than that we couldn't get much going today. They're very well-coached, well-disciplined football team. But I will say, this is probably the best game they've had to play all year."

It was certainly the closest, as no team had come closer than 24 points of the Pirates.

And most of that can be attributed to the Platte County defense which has allowed just 70 points all year. Sherman indicated he wanted his defense to use angles to cut off Tipler if he got outside, and force him to cut back into the pursuit.

The strategy worked.

"We do not run very well in between the tackles, that's not a big mystery," said Rogers. "Most of our game is off-tackle, option, outside sweep, things like that. They were coming from the outside and they were taking what we like to do best away. We were fortunate to get two scores on the board."

Murph was hounded all day by the Pirate defense. He completed 6-of-13 passes for 75 yards. But other than Tipler's 67-yard reception, Murph's five other completions netted just eight yards.

But even with a subpar game, Rogers remained high on Murph.

"Murph's the best quarterback we've ever had at our school," said Rogers. "He's got great escapability, he's got a rocket for an arm, and he can make things happen with his legs. This is the first year he's ever played quarterback. He took two snaps last year. So I think he's got a future somewhere."

Tipler ended up with 2,115 yards this season. He's also the school's all-time leader in career rushing yards (3,778), and touchdowns in a career (62) and a season (39).

"He's had a remarkable season and a remarkable career," said Rogers. "(Tipler and Sherman are) both good backs and they both deserve to be all-state. If they aren't then there shouldn't even be an all-state team. They're the (top) two running backs."