JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Belleville East had Jefferson City right where it wanted at halftime. The Lancers led 14-7 and had controlled the game on the ground.
But the momentum didn't carry over to the second half as the Lancers had just one first down and dropped a 22-14 decision to Jefferson City.
"They got the opening kickoff and took it right down on us and we just were out of position on a few plays," Belleville East coach Tim Funk said. "You've just got to give them credit. It's a good football team and they put you in tough spots and tough positions."
The Jays outscored the Lancers 13-0 in the third quarter and put the game away with a safety with 2:33 left in the fourth quarter.
The Lancers had just 27 yards of offense in the second half after picking up 188 in the first half.
"We had some big plays on both sides of the ball that could have gone one way or another and they didn't," Funk said. "But that's football and that happens."
Even with the offense unable to move the ball in the second half, the Lancers only trailed 20-14 and had a chance to drive for the winning score with slightly more than three minutes left.
That's when a Jefferson City punt appeared to be in the end zone for a touchback, as a Jay touched it with his foot on the line.
But the rule in high school football says as long as the ball does not cross the line, a player can be in the end zone to down the ball.
Instead of having the ball at the 20-yard line, Belleville East had to go 99 yards.
Two plays later, a fumble went out of the back of the end zone for a safety. Jefferson City then ran the clock out after picking up one first down on its next possession.
"The ball wasn't in the end zone but the player was," Funk said. "We looked it up and the official is correct. But the problem I guess I have is that for the last 11 years as Belleville East head coach, we've got that called against us.
"So I just was thinking that's a touchback, he was in the end zone, which I think the rule should be. I don't know why anyone can stay in the end zone and the ball be out. Once again, the official was correct."
Belleville East tied the score at 7 with a 46-yard run by DeMarius Ward, who had 140 yards on 20 carries, late in the first quarter. The Lancers took a 14-7 lead on a 4-yard touchdown run by Lawrence Butler Jr. late in the first half.
But the momentum didn't hold up.
Jefferson City scored on its opening possession of the second half and J.T. Bohlken added two more field goals for the Jays, who improve to 2-0 on the season.
"I was a really proud of our special teams," Jefferson City head coach Ted LePage said.
Funk said he was proud of how his team battled all the way to the end.
"We were just a little step slow on some of the stuff we were doing," Funk said. "I still think there were some things that were there for the taking. But like I said, instead of saying we did anything wrong for our offense you give them credit."