Connor Drake

Maryville senior quarterback Connor Drake watches the handshake line after his team's 49-23 loss in the Class 2 quarterfinals. Drake is one of eight seniors on the team.

Maryville senior quarterback Connor Drake stood gazing at midfield. With tears in his eyes, he watched the handshake line take place on the uneven field at the ’Hound Pound, seemingly trying to soak in each and every memory he’s created on the grass that was his fall home for the past four years.

Drake was standing there in freshest of moments during the aftermath of a 49-23 loss to Richmond in the Class 2 quarterfinals, one that effectively put the punctuation to his career as a Spoofhound.

“Your four years go by really fast, and to just have it end like that — it hurts,” Drake said.

The game didn’t start well for the ’Hounds (7-5), and after a quick three-and-out, the Spartans (11-1) were able to strike first off a 7-yard carry from Richmond senior quarterback Keyshaun Elliot. 

Elliot, officially listed at 6-foot, 3-inches tall and 215 pounds, bludgeoned the Spoofhounds defense throughout the entirety of the afternoon, rarely — if ever — being taken down by a single Maryville defender. Elliot’s stiff-arm on the subsequent 2-point conversion put Richmond up 8-0 with 5 minutes and 9 seconds left in the first quarter.

The rest of the first half followed a similar pattern, as Maryville struggled to string together a drive and often failed to muster a first down. The Spartans did everything Maryville couldn’t, capitalizing on the Spoofhounds’ offensive woes with touchdowns.

By halftime, the Richmond lead had ballooned to 22-0 off of a double pass hauled in by Spartan senior receiver Jordan Alexander and another touchdown run from Elliot.

“When you get to this point in the season, where there’s only eight teams left, you’ve got to play your best,” Maryville coach Matt Webb said. “And I don’t think we did that for the first half.”

Webb credited the Richmond offensive line for setting the tone for the game. The unit, which was significantly larger than Maryville’s defensive front, helped the Spartans establish the run early and gash the Spoofhound defense. 

“They did a really good job on the offensive line and really pushed us around,” Webb said.

Prior to the second-half kickoff, Webb walked up and down the sidelines telling his players that the score was 0-0, reminding them they had a lot of football left to play.

The ’Hounds came out of the locker room determined to make it a game in the latter half, and for a while, they did just that. The Spartans fumbled two minutes into the half, allowing Maryville senior linebacker Drew Spire to tack on the team’s first points with a scoop-and-score. The Spoofhounds added a 2-point conversion to cut the deficit to 14.

“All the momentum was on our side at that moment,” Drake said.

Maryville later forced a Spartans punt before driving down the field and scoring a touchdown off a Drake bootleg, making it a one-possession contest with roughly two minutes left in the third quarter.

Less than a minute and a half of game time later, Elliot put the Spartans back up by double digits with a 56-yard frozen rope hauled in by senior wide receiver Layne Cavanah.

The Spoofhounds’ hopes of getting back in the game were dashed on the first play from scrimmage in the fourth quarter, when Drake’s pass to the home sideline was picked off by Alexander, setting up an 11-yard touchdown run from Elliot.

The Spoofhounds came down on the field the next possession with an 8-yard touchdown run from Cooper Loe, leaving the ’Hounds trailing 36-23 with 10 minutes left in the fourth. 

Maryville’s offense didn’t breach the goal line for the rest of the contest, and Elliot ran in two more scores, putting the game sufficiently out of reach.

After the game, Drake hugged family, friends and teammates, or “brothers” as he calls them, all while keeping his helmet on, trying to savor his last moments as the quarterback of the Maryville football program.

“We really grew as a group and tried to lead this team the best we could,” Drake said of the seniors.

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