ANDERSON, Mo. — McDonald County’s historic season came to an end on Saturday when the Mustangs came out on the wrong side of a 31-28 hard-fought loss to Jefferson City in the Class 4 state quarterfinals.
It was a tale of two quarters in the first half. The Mustangs jumped out in front with a pair of touchdowns in the first 12 minutes of play before the Jays answered with 21 unanswered points in the second quarter to take a 21-14 lead into the intermission. The second half was a shootout, with each team trading blows and the lead before the Jays took the advantage back with two minutes left in the game and never relinquished it.
The Mustangs, who won their first-ever district title last week, finish the season with an 8-5 record and graduate 13 seniors.
Jeff City won the toss and elected to receive the ball with eyes on taking the lead first but McDonald County’s defense allowed the Jays to pick up one first down before forcing a punt.
With the ball, the Mustangs used a big play on the ground from QB Destyn Dowd, who picked up 43 yards on a keeper up the middle before being brought down at the 2-yard line. After a false start pushed MCHS back, RB Sam Barton took the handoff and made a couple of cuts on the way to a 7-yard touchdown to give the Mustangs a 7-0 lead with 7:24 to play in the first quarter.
Jeff City put on a strong drive the second time with the ball, but McDonald County showed a bend-don’t-break mentality and stalling the drive for a turnover-on-down at the MCHS 31-yard line.
Dowd kept the ball to the left and ripped off a 20-yard game before keeping it up the middle a couple plays later for a 6-yard touchdown with 26 seconds left in the first quarter to give the Mustangs a 14-0 lead.
Jefferson City struck with a big play to get on the scoreboard when RB Bradarious Lewis ripped off a 78-yard touchdown on a rollout draw in a form of the Statue of Liberty play to cut the Mustangs’ lead to 14-7 early in the second period.
After forcing McDonald County to punt for the first time, the Jays took the ball down the field with a methodical drive on the ground that was capped by a 6-yard rushing touchdown from Lewis to tie the game at 14-14 with four minutes left in the first half.
The Jays went big through the air to take the lead for the first time in the game after QB Jacob Wilson went deep up the far sideline to find WR Kendrick Johnson for a 43-yard touchdown and a 21-14 advantage with a minute to play in the first half.
McDonald County put on a long drive to open the second half, chewing up more than seven minutes of game clock before RB Malosi Sosef punched it in for a short-yardage touchdown to tie the game at 21s.
Jeff City jumped back out in front when Wilson found RB Zach Barnes for a 42-yard gain to set up a 30-yard field goal from Johnson for a 24-21 lead.
Early in the fourth quarter, McDonald County found the end zone to take the lead back from Jeff City on a 2-yard touchdown from Dowd to close the ensuing drive to make the score 28-24 with 9:28 left in the fourth quarter.
Jeff City used a 23-yard completion from Wilson to Johnson to get the ball down to the 6-yard line with two minutes left. Barnes took the ball in on the next play for a 6-yard touchdown to give the Jays a 31-28 lead with 1:58 to play in the game.
McDonald County’s ensuing drive to tie or take the lead ended short of the 50-yard line when a fourth-down pass fell incomplete for a turnover-on-downs.