ST. LOUIS -- Try as he might, even the best player in the state couldn’t do it by himself.
That’s the feeling fans and observers left the Edward Jones Dome with Friday afternoon, after John Burroughs running back/receiver/kick returner/defensive back Ezekiel Elliott turned in the single greatest individual yardage performance in Missouri football state championship game history, but still had to walk off the field in tears, following his team’s 35-22 loss to Maryville in the 2012 MSHSAA Class 3 Show-Me Bowl game.
“It just hurts so much,” Elliott said, after amassing an incredible 419 all-purpose yards and scoring three touchdowns for the Bombers. “I really don’t know how else to put it. We put in so much work, and to get here and fall short again, just hurts.”
The loss was Burroughs’ first defeat of the season, and gave the Bombers the dubious record of the being the first team in MSHSAA Show-Me Bowl history to lose the state title game three years in a row.
“I hope nobody holds that against those guys,” Maryville head coach Matt Webb said. “That’s a great team. And that running back, Elliott, is unbelievable. He’s quite a player.”
The JBS senior, who’ll head to Ohio State on a full scholarship to play football next year, and had 218 rushing yards, 72 receiving yards, and 129 kickoff return yards to become the first player ever to amass more than 400 all-purpose yards in one Show-Me Bowl game.
Elliott, whose three touchdowns on the day gave him 50 for the season, began his spectacular day on JBS' first play from scrimmage, when he broke through the line and raced up the right sideline for a 79-yard touchdown that tied the score at the time at 7.
Later, Elliott had a 21-yard catch and a 42-yard run to help set up a field goal for the Bombers just before halftime.
Unfortunately, Maryville’s three-man run game of Brody McMahon, Derek Stiens, and Jonathan Blake combined for 289 yards in the first half to help the Spoofhounds build a 21-10 lead.
JBS’ Rushil Sheth had hit a 26-yard field goal with 28 seconds left before halftime to pull the Bombers to within 14-10. But McMahon broke free for a 59-yard score with 12 seconds left for a back-breaking touchdown that left Burroughs stupefied.
“That play was a killer,” Burroughs head coach Gus Frerotte said. “We just had one guy not fill a gap like he was supposed to, and then two other guys missed the tackle, and the next thing you know the guy’s in the endzone.”
Maryville increased its lead to 28-10 early in the third quarter, when Stiens plowed his way in for his second touchdown of the game.
Burroughs was in dire straits at that point, but that’s one Elliott came to life again.
First, he managed to field a kickoff that was supposed to go away from him, and weaved his way through the entire Maryville coverage team, for a sensational 82-yard touchdown that kept the Bombers in the game.
Then, after a defensive stop gave Burroughs the ball again, Elliott capped off a 10-play, 89-yard drive, with a 1-yard plunge into the end zone that made the score 28-22 Maryville.
“They got that kid the ball every which way they could,” Webb said. “We tried to keep it out of his hands, but they kept finding ways to get him the ball.”
On Maryville’s next possession, seniors linebackers Cruz Riley and Christian Bledsoe teamed up to produce the turnover break the Bombers needed.
Riley stuffed Maryville’s Stiens on a run play and knocked the ball out of his hands, and Bledsoe pounced on it at his own 29-yard line.
Burroughs then moved the ball into Maryville territory, but the Spoofhounds were able to hold on fourth down to get the ball back with 5:41 left in the game.
Baker capped off a brilliant drive, which included two third-down conversions and a fourth-down conversion, with a 35-yard touchdown run that gave the Spoofhounds their final 35-22 lead with only 37 seconds left in the game.
“It was like deja vu,” Elliott said, of falling in the state championship game for the third straight year. “I don’t know what to say. It just hurts.”
Score by Quarters ... 1 ... 2 ... 3 ... 4 -- Final
John Burroughs ...... 7 ... 3 .. 12 .. 0 -- 22
Maryville .................. 14 .. 7 ... 7 ... 7 -- 35
Maryv - Derek Stiens 4 yd run (Boston Schneider kick) -- 8:01 .............. 0-7
JBS - Ezekiel Elliott 79 yd run (Rushil Sheth kick) -- 7:38 ...................... 7-7
Maryv - Brody McMahon 65 yd run (Boston Schneider kick) -- 5:50 ... 7-14
JBS - Rushil Sheth 26 yd field goal -- :28 ............................................. 10-14
Maryv - Brody McMahon 59 yd run (Boston Schneider kick) -- :12 ... 10-21
Maryv - Derek Stiens 1 yd run (Boston Schneider kick) -- 5:27 .......... 10-28
JBS - Ezekiel Elliott 82 yd kickoff return (kick blocked) -- 5:11 ......... 16-28
JBS - Ezekiel Elliott 1 yd run (kick blocked) -- :12 .............................. 22-28
Maryv - Jonathan Baker 35 yd run (Boston Schneider kick) -- :37 ...... 22-35