LEE'S SUMMIT, Mo. — Since taking over for an injured Ben Walker in the season opener, Connor Drake has managed the Spoofhound offense well. Maryville's running game has fueled much of the team's offensive success, but in Saturday's state quarterfinal, it was the junior quarterback who provided the big plays early in the Spoofhounds' 35-9 win over Summit Christian Academy.
“He played a hell of a game today,” Kreizinger said of his quarterback. “He really stepped up, and I'm going to tell him that right after this. I'm going to go give him a hug and tell him that he stepped up.”
Maryville (10-3) and Summit Christian (8-4) exchanged punts to begin the game. Maryville appear to be headed towards another punt as the offense faced a third-and-7, but Drake found his favorite target, Kreizinger, over the middle of the field for a 32-yard gain.
“He is a leader,” Maryville coach Matt Webb said of Drake. “He put those throws on the money. … He made plays when he had to and that is what a quarterback does. He has to operate our offense. That is what we ask our quarterback to do, and Connor is doing an unbelievable job. He has improved all year, and he is determined to win a championship.”
Two plays later, senior Connor Weiss broke loose for a 36-yard touchdown run.
A fake punt helped Summit Christian go 74 yards on 13 plays for a touchdown on the next drive. Lucas Eckles finished the drive with a 6-yard touchdown run, but the Eagles missed the extra point to keep the Spoofhounds in the lead 7-6.
The Eagle defense forced another third-and-7, but Drake and Kreizinger connected again. This one was a 39-yard gain. Three plays later, Weiss scored his second touchdown of the game with a 14-yard carry and the Spoofhounds took a 13-6 lead with 10:24 left in the half.
“Recently, I haven't been throwing the ball real well,” Drake said. “So to come in this game and get those completions early, it was a big confidence boaster. I think I got our offense rolling.”
For the second-straight drive, Summit Christian executed a fake punt and drove the ball down to the 1-yard line. The Eagles attempted a quarterback sneak, but with the play stuffed, they were called for pushing the quarterback forward and aiding the runner.
“Keeping them to a field goal, that is huge on the goal line,” Houchin said.
The 5-yard penalty and ensuing incompletion led to a field goal, and Maryville maintained a 13-9 lead.
Facing a third-and-16 following a false start, Drake made his third big throw of the half. This one went into the end zone as Trey Houchin got behind the defense and Drake hit him in stride for a 49-yard touchdown. Weiss scored a the 2-point conversion to give the Hounds a 21-9 halftime lead.
“The offensive coach (Matt Houchin), my dad actually, called a pretty good play,” Trey Houchin said. “He saw the safeties with one high, so if he went with the Z, he would take him, if not he would take me. I was wide open on the play, Connor threw a great ball and it was a touchdown.”
The Spoofhound defense shut out the Eagles in the second half, a feat that has become a trend during the playoff run.
“It was a game of adjustments,” Webb said.
Weiss added his third touchdown of the game with 20 seconds left in the third quarter after Houchin broke off a 44-yard run.
Kreizinger found the the end zone next with a rare handoff to the Hounds' top wideout. The speedy senior, who worn Walker's No. 2 jersey for the game, took the third-and-14 carry 32 yards for a touchdown.
“Another key play in that game was Matt Houchin being able to call the reverse when we had to,” Webb said.
The 35-9 victory marks the Spoofhounds' fourth blowout victory in as many playoff games with wins by 40, 28, 32 and 26 so far in the postseason.
“It feels amazing, man,” Kreizinger said. “No better feeling. We are ready. We're rolling. We got the momentum. We are ready to go.”
Maryville will draw Cassville (10-2) next week at the Hound Pound in the semifinals. The game will kickoff on Saturday at 1 p.m.
“These kids have worked hard, and they have earned it,” Webb said.
Cassville beat Buffalo 41-16 to earn its semifinal spot. In Class 3's other quarterfinal games, Cardinal Ritter beat Kennett 45-7, and Blair Oaks beat Lutheran North 44-9.
“I'm really proud of our guys,” Webb said. “This is Spoofhound weather and who knows what next week holds.”