It was touted as a battle of strength vs. strength, the running offense of the Jefferson City Jays against the defense of the Helias Crusaders.
One definitely got the better of the other Friday night.
"I thought from the get-go, we were dialed in and ready to play," Helias coach Chris Hentges said after the Crusaders limited Jefferson City to 110 yards on the ground in a 51-7 victory in Central Missouri Activities Conference action at Ray Hentges Stadium.
"Credit to our coaches, we had a great game plan. They had been rushing for so many yards and we held them to 110."
For the Jays, it was a difficult night on both sides of the ball.
"Tonight was rough," Jefferson City coach Damon Wells said. "All the credit in the world goes to them. Their kids played hard. They're well-coached."
Helias got the ball first and went 74 yards in five plays, with the touchdown coming on a 29-yard pass from Drew Miller to Ryan Klahr. Vinnie Calvaruso booted the first of his six extra points and Helias led 7-0 less than two minutes into the game.
"We thought it was important to get a fast start, in a game like this, if you can score first, that's a big thing," Hentges said.
The Helias defense got into the act 90 seconds later when Crusader safety Carson Brauner intercepted a pass and returned it 29 yards for a touchdown and a 14-0 lead less than three minutes into the game.
Helias added a third touchdown in the first quarter when Miller connected with Kaden Hampson for a 28-yard touchdown and a 21-0 Crusader lead.
"Offensively, we showed them something they hadn't seen and I think it worked to our advantage," Hentges said.
Brauner got into the end zone on the offensive side of the ball early in the second quarter. His 4-yard touchdown run with 10:33 left in the first half capped a seven-play, 47-yard drive that made it 28-0.
Calvaruso kicked a 25-yard field goal on Helias' next possession to make it 31-0.
On the next play from scrimmage, David Bethune of the Jays went 75 yards around the left side for a touchdown. Jacob Wilson booted the PAT and the Jays trailed 34-7 with 4:59 left in the half.
Helias then went on a 16-play drive that started on its own 1. The Crusaders got to the Jays 14 before Calvaruso came on to kick a 30-yard field goal with :01 on the clock as Helias took a 34-7 advantage into halftime.
The Helias defense limited Jefferson City to 134 total yards in the first half — 90 on 12 rushes and 44 on 3-of-7 passing.
The Crusaders finished the first half with 322 total yards — 202 on the ground and 120 passing.
"I think it's a scientific fact that struggle is a biological requirement for greatness and we struggled tonight, we struggled pretty mightily," Wells said.
Helias scored touchdowns on its first two possessions of the third quarter to bring the running clock into play.
Miller hit Klahr for a 21-yard touchdown to make it 41-7. On Helias' next offensive play, Miller threw a screen to Cole Stumpe, who worked his way through the Jefferson City defense for a 52-yard touchdown and it was 48-7 with 7:42 left in the third quarter.
The Crusaders got their final points on a 27-yard field goal by Calvaruso with 2:01 remaining in the game.
"Fifty-one points against your crosstown rival in a high-pressure game, we're extremely happy with the way we executed tonight," Hentges said.
Bethune led Jefferson City with 78 yards on four carries. The Jays totaled 32 yards on their other 18 carries. Three Jays combined to go 5-of-14 passing for 47 yards.
Helias totaled 469 yards — 267 on 38 carries and 202 on 12-of-23 passing. Klahr, who ran for 112 yards on 13 carries in the first half, finished with 127 yards on 15 carries to lead the Crusaders.
Jefferson City (3-4 overall, 3-2 CMAC) will play next Friday at Battle.
"We hope to use this as an opportunity to learn and grow and to see if we can get better still," Wells said.
Class 5 No. 8 Helias (6-1, 5-0) has wrapped up at least a share of its second CMAC championship. The Crusaders can win the title outright next Friday night with a win at Sedalia Smith-Cotton.
With the win, Helias won the Mayor's Cup for the second straight season with victories against Capital City and Jefferson City.