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Kearney Romps to State Title, 68-28

By 810 Varsity, 12/02/23, 2:15PM CST

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Bulldogs rack up yards, TDs for first title since 2015


Kearney's Cohen Jacobs hauls in a 47-yard touchdown pass during the Bulldogs' 68-28 romp in the Missouri Class 4 title game. (David Smith, Special to 810 Varsity)

Kearney’s formula for a state title seemed simple – score a touchdown on every possession, and bring home the trophy.  

The Bulldogs pretty much did just that in the Missouri Class 4 title game, and rolled to a 68-28 romp over Hillsboro at Faurot Field in Columbia on Saturday afternoon. Kearney brings back the state hardware for the fifth time in school history - the first since 2015.  The Bulldogs’ point total was just one off the Show-Me Bowl record set in 2012 by Lamar, which beat Blair Oaks, 69-41.

Kearney (13-2) and Hillsboro piled up 996 yards – the second-most in a Missouri title game, only to Friday night’s Class 3 game of 1,070. But the Bulldogs found the end zone every trip aside from the last possession of the first half (:05) and the final possession in running out the clock.

Senior running back Cameron Emmons scored four rushing touchdowns while quarterback Casey Rooney threw for four scores and 229 yards, and rushed for 91 yards as well.

While the big plays lit up the scoreboard, the defense was even more huge with two goalline stands in the first half. The first came immediately after kickoff, as on the second play of the game, Hillsboro quarterback Preston Brown connected with brother Payton Brown out of the backfield for a 79-yard pass, but Brown was brought down at the 1. A penalty and four plays of Kearney stuffing the Hawks kept Hillsboro out of the end zone.

From its own 2, Kearney took its opening drive and marched 98 yards on 13 plays, capped 6:03 later by a Cameron Emmons 1-yard scoring plunge. Emmons finished with a game-high 93 rushing yards, while brother Corbin added 56 en route to KHS piling up 279 on the ground.

At the end of the high-scoring half, Hillsboro looked to be stopped on 4th-and-2 at its own 28, but an offsides extended the drive with less than two minutes to go. The Hawks connected on a halfback pass from Payton Brown for 54 yards to the Kearney 4. The Bulldogs appeared to stop Hillsboro, but a pass interference put the ball at the 2 with :14 left. However, Preston Brown fumbled the ball into the end zone on a keeper, and Kearney preserved a 34-14 halftime lead.

Kearney built its lead from the outset as on the second possession for Hillsboro, a fumble by Preston Brown gave KHS the ball at the 34. On the next play, Rooney fired a 34-yard touchdown pass to a streaking Manny Linthacum, and a quick 13-0 lead. Linthacum hauled in five passes for 96 yards and two receiving scores on the day.

Hillsboro countered with a big play of its own, as Payton Brown ripped off a 55-yard touchdown run to pull to 13-7. But Kearney came right back after a big kickoff return across midfield, then a Rooney 34-yard pass to Bryce Page along the right sideline for a 20-7 margin.

Following a Hillsboro punt, Kearney took over at its own 14 but a 24-yard keeper by Rooney, a 26-yard run by Cameron Emmons, and a 36-yard bomb to a wide open Linthacum in the end zone ballooned the deficit to 27-7. Another Cameron Emmons touchdown from three yards out capped a seven-play drive for a 34-14 halftime lead.

The Bulldogs opened the second half in the same fashion, starting at its own 48 and scoring five plays later with Cameron Emmons in the wildcat formation from seven yards out, and a 40-14 laugher. Cameron Emmons scored his fourth touchdown of the day after a nine-play, 79-yard drive with four minutes left in the third period.

Kearney kept the gas pedal down with a 47-pass touchdown pass to Cohen Jacobs from Rooney with just 2:08 into the fourth quarter for a 54-28 margin.

Later in the fourth, an interception of Hillsboro by Grant Noland set up Linthacum’s third score on an end-around from 21 yards out, for a 61-28 lead midway through the final period. On the ensuing play, Kearney forced a Hillsboro fumble and scored two plays later courtesy of a 11-yard run by Jacobs, for the final 68-28 total.

Kearney previously captured championships in 2002, 2003, 2009 and 2015. The Bulldogs last played in the state title game in 2016, losing 21-14 to Harrisonville. Greg Jones, who led KHS to the 2009 and 2015 crowns, is now the defensive coordinator at Central Missouri.

The Bulldogs reached this year’s state championship game by beating Jefferson City 42-7 in last weekend’s semifinals. Emmons scored two first-half touchdowns in that game, too.


Cameron Emmons scored four touchdowns on Saturday in Kearney's 68-28 win over Hillsboro in the Missouri Class 4 title game. (Photo: David Smith, Special to 810 Varsity)

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