The Helias Crusaders were frustrated.
The Capital City Cavaliers had something to do with that.
"They threw a couple of looks at us we weren't prepared for," Helias coach Chris Hentges said Friday night after the Cruasders defeated the Cavaliers 31-0 in a Homecoming contest at Ray Hentges Stadium. "We were searching for things offensively instead of confidently running our offense, executing our offense."
Capital City coach Joe Collier thought it was just the latest in a series of good games for the Cavaliers on that side of the football.
"The defense played their butts off, they've been like that all year," Collier said. "I know the scores may not reflect it, but they have."
It was the second shutout in three weeks for the Helias defense.
"The defense played well all night," Hentges said.
Helias got on the board midway through the opening quarter. After an exchange of punts to start the game, the Crusaders went 31 yards in 10 plays to score. All 10 plays were on the ground, capped by a 5-yard run by Carson Brauner. Vinnie Calvaruso booted the first of four PATs and Helias led 7-0.
Capital City, playing at deliberate pace, answered by running 14 consecutive plays on offense. The Cavaliers moved from their own 20 to the Crusader 28 before a fourth-down interception by Gage Wilde ended the drive.
After another exchange of punts, Helias got the ball back near midfield. The Crusaders drove as deep as the Cavalier 25 before Calvaruso came on to boot a 43-yard field goal to make it 10-0.
"Vinnie was good tonight," Hentges said.
That was the score at the half, which ended with Capital City nearly even in the stat categories. The Cavaliers had 75 total yards and six first downs in the opening two quarters, while the Crusaders totaled 81 yards and five first downs.
"What you saw in the first half, we were playing to our potential," Collier said.
"Jitters, nerves, pressing," Hentges said about the Crusaders' offense in the first half. "Then you struggle early and that just compounds the problem and makes it worse."
After forcing a three-and-out to start the second half, Helias took over on its own 19. The Crusaders drove to the Cavalier 39 before fumbling the ball after picking up a first down on fourth-and-4.
"It was an array of mistakes, credit to them for playing good defense, but we were killing ourselves," Hentges said.
Yet another exchange of punts had the Cavaliers starting a drive near midfield. On fourth-and-3, the Cavaliers opted to try for the first down, but were tackled for a 2-yard loss.
With the way his defense was playing, going for it was one decision Collier said he would like to have had back.
"Scared money doesn't make money, but sometimes you've got to put your money back in your pocket and kick the ball," he said.
Helias needed just two plays to go 49 yards for a touchdown, which came on a 37-yard run by quarterback Drew Miller to make it 17-0 with a little less than two minutes left in the third quarter.
"That was a great run," Hentges said.
The Cavaliers punted the ball back to the Crusaders on a three-and-out and Helias took over at the Capital City 41. Three plays later, Drew Miller connected with Harrison Miller for a 39-yard touchdown and a 24-0 Helias lead in the opening minute of the fourth quarter.
"We thought they would be playing deep coverage to take the long one away, so we worked on that curl route in practice," Hentges said. "Harrison did a great job of catching it and doing something with it."
After another Capital City punt, Helias took over at its own 33. After the Crusaders got two first downs and past midfield, the night was done for the Crusader starters on offense.
The second-string finished the drive with a score, that coming on a 3-yard run by Sam Wyrick to make the final 31-0.
"I don't like losing at all," Collier said. "But we earned respect tonight. Nobody thinks we laid down. We had our shots, we took them, it just didn't go our way.
"But we had fight in us and everybody saw that."
Phillip Richardson was a workhorse for the Cavaliers, picking up 98 yards on 26 carries.
"He's still growing and if he keeps working, he can be pretty dynamic," Collier said.
Capital City finished with 106 yards rushing and four yards passing. The Cavaliers had just one first down in the second half.
Helias finished with 303 total yards — 196 rushing and 107 passing. The Crusaders had 11 first downs in the second half.
Capital City (0-6 overall, 0-4 CMAC) will be back in action next Friday at home against Sedalia Smith-Cotton for Homecoming. The conference contest will start at 7 p.m. at Adkins Stadium.
Helias (5-1, 4-0) will host Jefferson City (3-3, 3-1) at 7 p.m. Friday. It will be the first-ever meeting between the programs at Ray Hentges Stadium and is Helias' final home game of the regular season.