HANNIBAL — After about 15 minutes of play, the Jefferson City Jays led the Hannibal Pirates 14-6.
During the remaining 33 minutes and change, the Jays outscored the Pirates 13-6, and those two scores only required 21 yards of offense.
So with the Jays leading 14-6 at halftime, head coach Terry Walker got out the pen and paper to jot down a few notes during the second half that could be useful come Saturday morning and beyond.
"We just have to be cleaner," Walker said after the Jays defeated Hannibal 27-12 on Friday night. "It was a sloppy game in some regards in the sense that we had a couple different opportunities offensively to really put some pressure on them, and I don't know that we executed real clean in that regard. And then defensively, I thought we had couple of the same opportunities. I'm very proud of the kids for their effort, and what they did to win the football game, but we have to improve."
The game couldn't have started much better for Jays quarterback Cole Gresham, who completed an 18-yard pass to Darrell Jones before delivering a perfect ball for Devin White, who caught a 47-yard touchdown pass in stride in the middle of the field.
After Ben Folz's first of three made PATs, it was 7-0 Jays less than 2 minutes in.
The Jays' only other scoring drive that began in their own territory started early in the second quarter at their own 33-yard line and ended just five plays later with Jones catching a 30-yard touchdown pass.
Jones led the Jays with four catches for 61 yards and that touchdown.
At that point, Gresham was 5-of-7 for 105 yards and two touchdowns. He was 5-of-16 for 27 yards and a pair of interceptions to Hannibal safety John Clubine the rest of the way.
"I knew Cole could execute, as well as the receivers could, in the passing game," Walker said. "What I didn't like early on, and actually throughout the entire first half, was our inability to really sustain anything in the running game. Because if we're going to be a good football team, we've got to be able to run the football. We show flashes every now and again, but then again that comes back to the consistency piece of it. We've got to be more consistent and that goes back to preparation."
The Jays ran it five times for 36 yards on their first three drives combined, but 22 of those came from a Gresham 22-yard scramble on the first play of the second scoring possession.
Take away that run, and the Jays averaged 3.44 yards per carry in the first half.
Jefferson City went three-and-out and threw two interceptions after taking the 14-6 lead.
The first interception came on a deep shot to White on third-and-10 from the Jays' 46. Clubine leaped into the air and wrestled the ball away, adding a 27-yard return.
The second pick ended the first half when Clubine tipped a deep ball intended for Nick Williams and was able to come down with it.
"I think Cole was taking a chance a little bit on a couple of the plays, but like I said, we'll look at the film and evaluate it and assess it," Walker said.
Gresham was the leading rusher for the Jays with 53 yards on 10 attempts, including a 2-yard sneak for the final score of the game with 5:02 remaining.
That scoring drive began 21 yards from the end zone after a high snap went over the punter's head for a loss of 27 yards.
Hannibal defensive end Dante Reading had recovered a fumble at the Jays' 49 to set up a potential game-tying drive before Jefferson City (1-1) stuffed two straight run plays and forced an incompletion to put the Pirates (0-2) into a punting situation.
"We always talk about finishing a football game," Walker said. " I know we did many things good and then we'll work to improve on the things we need to improve on."
Jefferson City was able to limit Hannibal's rushing attack enough to force four punts.
Jefferson City also recovered two fumbles, including one that turned into a 40-yard touchdown return for defensive back Marshaun Dye.
Late in the third quarter, Hannibal quarterback Courtland Watson pitched the ball to running back Damien French, but the ball ended up bouncing on the turn and being grabbed by Dye, who had a clear path to the end zone to increase the lead to 20-6.
"It looks like their pitch relationship might have been off a little bit," Walker said. "And the pitch caught him up in the chest and fortunately our corner was there playing the pitch and the ball just kind of bounced up to him and we got a free six points."
But French and the Pirates made up for that with a 15-play, 82-yard drive that ended with French scoring from a yard out to cut it to 20-12 with 8:29 remaining in the game.
French ran it 10 times for 42 yards on the drive, including converting a fourth-and-4.
French tallied 30 carries for 105 yards.
Watson ran it 22 times for 66 yards with a 3-yard touchdown to make it 7-6 just 34 seconds into the second quarter.
Watson also completed 6-of-17 passes for 96 yards, including a 43-yard catch and run by Joey Worthington on that scoring drive.
The Jays will go for their second straight road win Friday when they face the Hickman Kewpies, who dropped their Week 2 contest 24-0 at Helias, in Columbia.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.