COLUMBIA, Mo. — De Smet converted two Joplin turnovers into touchdowns in the fourth quarter and defeated the Eagles 35-20 Saturday afternoon in the Class 6 championship game at the University of Missouri's Faurot Field.
The Eagles (13-1) scored the first two touchdowns of the game for a 12-0 lead early in the second quarter and led 20-14 at halftime.
Joplin maintained the lead until the final stanza when the Eagles lost fumbles on consecutive plays, and De Smet (14-0) turned both into touchdowns for a 28-20 lead. The Eagles turned the ball over again on an interception to set up the Spartans' final touchdown in the last two minutes.
The Eagles were the first football team from Joplin to reach a state championship game since 1984 when Parkwood lost to Jefferson City Helias 23-13 in Kansas City.
Two other COC teams and one other area team advanced to state championships Saturday, and will play next weekend for state championships in their respective classes:
• In Class 4, Webb City shut out Ladue 35-0. They will play Platte County on Friday.
• For the first time in school history, Carthage will play for a title. With its 20-17 win over Fort Zumwalt North, it advances to the Class 5 title game Saturday against Jackson.
• Cassville in Class 3 won a semifinal game 13-0 against Trinity Catholic to advance to Saturday's championship against Odessa.