PLATTE CITY, Mo. -- After staying close for almost two quarters, Platte County's offensive weapons finally became too much for Benton in a 58-13 blowout win in a Class 4 District 8 first-round game Friday night at Pirate Stadium.
The Pirates (9-1) scored 44 points in the second and third quarters to pull away from the Cardinals (3-7).
"I thought for the most part for a half we played with them," Benton coach Matt Tabor said. "Our inability to run the ball is ultimately what cost us. I knew coming in we were going to have a hard time running the ball, and we only had 12 rushes for 16 yards in the first half."
The game started slow, with the first three possessions resulting in punts. Platte County broke the deadlock on the fourth possession when sophomore quarterback Justin Mitchell scrambled to the right sideline and ran 46 yards untouched to the end zone.
Senior wide receiver Aliek Reed tacked on a two-point conversion run to make it 8-0 with 6 minutes, 31 seconds to play in the first quarter.
Looking to answer, Benton mounted a drive that included passes of 25 and 16 yards from senior quarterback Dominic Hill to senior running back Rye'll Dydell and freshman wide receiver Cooper Burton, respectively. However, the Cardinals stalled on the Platte County 21-yard line, giving the ball back on downs.
Benton got the ball back with 1:05 remaining in the quarter when Pirates' sophomore running back Micheal McNair fumbled. On the first play of the second quarter, Hill was intercepted by Platte County's Kevin Neal. The sophomore defensive back returned the interception 61 yards for a touchdown to make the score 15-0.
"Any play like that is a momentum play," said Platte County coach Bill Ulz, who was named the Kansas City Chiefs coach of the week. "Especially in this game momentum is huge. Our team seems to feed off momentum really well."
The Cardinals answered two possessions later on a 28-yard pass from Hill to Cooper Burton to make it 15-6, but that was their final score of the half. Platte County took a 22-6 lead into the break following a 30-yard pass from Mitchell to Reed with 4:52 left.
Mitchell threw four more touchdown passes in the second half, including one more to Reed on a 42-yard screen pass, two to sophomore wide receiver T.J. Guillory (15 and 20 yards) and another for 38 yards to junior wide receiver Zach Hamilton.
Mitchell finished 14-of-20 for 228 yards and five touchdowns. He was also Platte County's leading rusher with 53 yards on five carries. Reed led the Pirates in receiving with 93 yards on three catches, while senior wide receiver Tyler Cooper (five catches, 50 yards) and Guillory (4/44) combined for 94 more.
"I can go to anyone," Mitchell said. "I can go to anyone who will make a play on the ball. They'll just go and make a play."
Benton scored its second and final touchdown of the day on a 28-yard strike from Hill to sophomore wide receiver Devon Burton that made it 38-13 with 7:17 left in the third quarter.
Hill finished 19-of-34 for 214 yards, two touchdowns and an interception, and Devon Burton had seven catches for 65 yards.
It was the final game for 15 Cardinals seniors who went from snapping a 19-game losing streak to finishing with three wins in a schedule filled with brutal Midland Empire Conference opponents.
"I'm proud to say that I got to coach every single one of them," Tabor said. "They persevered through a lot every day and they're loyal."
The Pirates move on to play another former MEC foe in the Warriors.
"We really don't have anything to compare them off of with common opponents or anything like that," Ulz said. "It will be fun, it's going to be a challenge for us. We need a good week of preparation as well as film study."