Aneyas Williams ran wild with the Jefferson City Jays, leading the Hannibal Pirates to a 53-28 win in the Jays’ home opener Friday night at Adkins Stadium.
Williams, a four-star recruit for the class of 2024 who has offers from virtually every top program in the country, had 327 total yards and a school-record eight touchdowns.
“I don’t think anything went wrong, he’s a talented young man,” Jefferson City coach Damon Wells said. “I am going to dedicate all my time to my children and I will try to train them.”
Williams started early, throwing 15 yards into the end zone to put Hannibal up 7-0 just over two minutes into the game, but Jefferson City hit the Pirates in the mouth for the next 11 minutes of the game.
The Blue Jays faced a third-and-11 on their first possession at their own 27-yard line, but Zane Wings had a big first down with a 20-yard run. Three plays later, Jacob Wilson hit Ryan Tadsen on an elevated route down the near sideline for a 38-yard touchdown.
“I was looking for it,” Wilson said. “It was there, I had faith in my receivers. We’ve got three really great receivers and it just so happened to be Ryan on that play. We planned it all week and executed it very well as a team.”
The Pirates drove into the red zone of Jefferson City on the next drive, but the Blue Jays got a big stop on fourth down to win back their own 17.
It didn’t take long for Jefferson City to score again. Rodney Wilson got a carry on 3rd-and-10 and found his way to the sideline, sped up and ran 67 yards for a home visit. It’s his second 60+ yard touchdown of the season since taking his only 69-yard rush for a touchdown in Week 1.
“It’s the offensive line,” Rodney Wilson said. “They do their job when they’re supposed to and they’re really good when we get it going. We just have to get it rolling more.”
Hannibal put the ball down to follow and Ethan Garnett picked up the fumble and returned it to the Hannibal 25. Jacob Wilson wasted no time putting the Blue Jays ahead 21-7 with a 13-yard touchdown run.
It was basically all Hannibal the rest of the way.
Williams scored his second touchdown of the game on the first play of the ensuing drive, hitting the sideline again after a pair of broken tackles and racing 70 yards home.
After Jefferson City fumbled, the Pirates had their most methodical drive of the night, rushing for 53 yards in 15 plays, ending with a 1-yard touchdown run by Williams, to tie the game at 21 with just over four minutes to play. half.
The game’s biggest turning point came after this unit.
Jefferson City was forced to take a 3-pointer and had to punt from its own 12-yard line. Joe Kuster didn’t have a clear lane to punt and his punt only traveled 10 yards before going out of bounds, putting Hannibal at the yard line. 27 for the Blue Jays.
Hannibal faced a fourth-and-12 at the 14-yard line and quarterback Waylon Anders was forced to throw a jump ball into double coverage, but Williams aimed the ball high for the go-ahead score. The Pirates would hold the lead forever.
The Pirates scored at the half after a punt by Jefferson City, but the Blue Jays never gave up.
Jacob Wilson took a sneaky 40-yard quarterback pass to put Jefferson City in scoring position and Kantrell Jordan did just that, with a 38-yard run into the end zone to bring Jefferson City within a score.
“All I know is that we competed,” Wells said. “We gave ourselves a chance in the second half to win the football game, and we’ll take it on any Friday night.”
The Pirates’ defense stiffened the rest of the night, holding the Blue Jays to just 51 yards the rest of the way.
It was a battle in the trenches all night, and the Blue Jays went toe-to-toe with one of the top Class 4 teams. Hannibal (1-1) was ranked 10th going into the game.
“It was a very physical game,” Wells said. “Our kids are young and still learning how to win consistently. While we have 94 children on the list, we still only have 12 seniors. This was a great environment and a great experience for our kids to learn and continue to improve for the rest of the season.”
After Hannibal beat Jefferson City 40-13 and 47-0 last season, the Blue Jays feel they are closing the gap against a potential district opponent, the Pirates.
“We learned that they are human,” said Jacob Wilson. “Last year, they yelled at us, but this year they are human. We know that if we go in there, we will prepare and come out ahead.”
“Oh, we’ll see them again”, Rodney Wilson. “They give the ball a lot to 22 (Williams). That’s a guy we need to stop, 33 (Markahl Humphrey) is a guy we need to stop. They have a great offensive lineman. We just have to make more tackles, we have to make more tackles and that was a big part of the loss today.”
Jefferson City (1-1) will now shift its focus to its first Central Missouri Activities Conference game on Friday against Rock Bridge in Columbia. The Blue Jays know it won’t get any easier.
“Now we have the Class 6 schools, so it certainly won’t be easy down the road,” Wells said. “But whatever it is, it’s the conference we’re in, so we’ll take all the entrants and see if we can give ourselves a chance to win next Friday night.”
“Rock Bridge beat us last year, so we’re here for revenge,” said Jacob Wilson.