Two big turnovers late in the first half of Thursday's first-round playoff game likely turned the game around for the Jasper Eagles in their 20-6 win over McAuley in Joplin.
It was Jasper's fourth win in five games after starting the season 0-5, including a loss to McAuley in the second game of the season.
"I can't believe it, what a great job these kids did," a jubilant Eagles Head Coach Rich Adkins said. "They've done everything all year that I've asked and the coaches have asked. We've just improved every weekend, that's what our goal is and look where we are now so great job to those kids."
A fumble recovery and 32-yard touchdown run by Jasper's Jordan Adams put the Eagles up 12-0 with 2:10 left until halftime.
McAuley got the ball back and started driving hard, but after nine plays took the Warriors from their own 23 to Jasper's 22, Jasper's Logan Johnston picked off an Adam Robertson pass to stop the drive on Jasper's 7 and send the Eagles into the locker room with the 12-0 shutout.
"We were inconsistent," said McAuley Head Coach Brenden Gubera. "We just didn't play well and we didn't make the plays when we had to."
Jasper's defense held on to the shutout through the third quarter, but McAuley was able to get on the board with an 11-yard pass from Robertson to Greg Carney with 8:41 left in the game. The extra point attempt failed, making it 20-6 Jasper and after a fumble by Jasper, McAuley seemed poised to strike again quickly.
A pass interference penalty on Jasper's defense set McAuley up on Jasper's 27, but McAuley gave those 15 yard right back with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
After two incomplete passes, McAuley gave the ball back to Jasper on downs with 6:13 left in the game and Jasper's offence went on a time-consuming drive that ended with no points on McAuley's 7, but ate up all by 50 seconds of the clock.
"Our defense played outstanding," said Jasper Head Coach Rich Adkins. "Coach John Lucas did a great job of getting them ready and they're starting to play very well. We had some big interceptions and we also talked about tackling. Make sure, they're going to catch balls, but make sure we tackle and don't give up the big play and that's what happened. I thought we did a great job of not giving up the big play tonight."
On offense, Jasper's Jordan Adams rushed 19 times for 136 yards and a touchdown on top of the touchdown he scored on defense. He also had a two-point conversion.
Logan Johnston rushed 19 times for 78 yards and a touchdown, while Matt Stump rushed 13 times for 42 yards.
Johnston completed one pass to Bailey Mooney for 13 yards.
The Eagles, 4-6, travel to Lockwood at 7 p.m. Wednesday to take on the Tigers in the second round of the playoffs. McAuley ends the season at 6-4.
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