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BONNE TERRE – A productive opening drive by the North County football team forced a more deliberate Potosi attack to play from behind as a steady drizzle continued to fall on Friday night.

Jaelen Reed provided two scoring runs, and Kolten Poorman threw a touchdown pass to Cole Ziegler as the Raiders honored their seniors and prevailed 22-7 in their scheduled home finale.

Poorman was 15-of-24 passing for 216 yards, and added a team-high 88 rushing yards on 17 carries as North County (5-3) remained in position to potentially host a first-round district game.

Senior lineman Pacen DeClue anchored a defense that allowed no play gaining more than 10 yards all evening as Potosi (4-4) attempted only two passes – both in the fourth quarter.

The Trojans generated just 75 total yards before halftime, but 63 of that occurred during a methodical 18-play march that consumed nearly eight minutes off the clock.

North County picked up 19 yards during its initial snap on a catch by Noah Mesey, and later overcame a high snap and broken play that pushed them back considerably.

Reed moved the chains with a run on 4th-and-3, then scored from the 4 less than four minutes into the game. Karter Kekec notched the ensuing two-point conversion on a sweep.

Three of the first four Potosi possessions concluded three-and-out, but the visitors gradually turned modest positive runs into their only points during their second possession.

Demond Guthrie had a 10-yard gain, and eventually broke a tackle to score from 5-yards out, but the work of sophomore fullback Brayden Isgriggs was also crucial.

Isgriggs got the call each time to follow his hefty line as Potosi successfully converted four separate short-yardage situations on fourth down.

Zach Haynes kicked the extra point to make it 8-7, and displayed his ability as all-state punter by pinning the Raiders inside their 20 on four occasions.

But the Raiders answered the Potosi scoring drive with one of their own, featuring three receptions from Ziegler along the way.

His 36-yard catch on a post route went for a touchdown as Guthrie lost sight of the football in single coverage. North County lead increased to 14-7.

Poorman delivered a 23-yard scramble just before halftime, but was later tackled in the middle of the field with no timeouts before losing more time on a fumbled snap.

Potosi had possession to begin the third quarter, and moved the chains once on second effort by Isgriggs. But Reed recovered a fumble by quarterback Andrew Coleman near midfield.

Ziegler picked up 23 yards after taking a short throw in the flat, and Reed capped the pivotal drive from the 2 ahead of Kekec’s second two-point conversion with 8:39 left in the period.

DeClue stuffed the next run by Potosi, and Reed added a tackle well behind the line of scrimmage that eventually resulted in another defensive stop.

While no more scoring occurred, the Raiders executed a big 27-yard strike from Poorman to Mesey after taking over at their own 4.

Potosi switched to freshman Blake Missey at quarterback in the fourth quarter. Ziegler broke up his first pass attempt deep, and Kekec made a leaping interception with less than four minutes to play.

Ziegler ended with six receptions for 111 yards, and Mesey compiled 86 yards while matching Kekec with four catches apiece. Reed tallied 72 yards on 16 carries in the win.

North County will close the regular season at John Burroughs next Saturday. A victory there combined with a Sikeston loss against Kennett would likely clinch a No. 4 district seed.

Potosi will face De Soto in week 9. Isgriggs had more than half of his team’s total yards with 56, and Guthrie added 31 yards on 15 attempts.

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Matt King is the sports editor for the Daily Journal. Contact him at mking@dailyjournalonine.com

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