Pleasant Grove Headed Back to State Following 49-14 Rout
FRISCO – Last season, the Pleasant Grove Hawks won their first-ever football state championship.
Fast forward 12 months, and Pleasant Grove is the first school from the city of Texarkana that will have an opportunity to defend the title.
Pleasant Grove dominated from the start, rolling past Iowa Park, 49-14, in their Class 4A Division II semifinal Friday night at the Ford Center.
With the win, Pleasant Grove (13-2) will meet Cuero (14-1) at 11 a.m. Friday from AT&T Stadium in Arlington for the championship.
“It’s unbelievable, you know how hard it is,” said Pleasant Grove coach Josh Gibson. “It’s the first time it’s happened in our city, and we have unbelievable football programs in Texarkana. To be going back-to-back, it’s a blessing. It’s a great reward for the effort these guys put in the program.”
Ben Harmon tossed three first-half touchdowns, and Pleasant Grove churned out 341 yards on the ground.
“It’s incredible,” said junior receiver Jackson Cobb, who had three catches for 110 yards and two touchdowns. “Everybody thought we were going to have a down year, and we just had to prove them wrong.”
Harmon completed 6 of 8 attempts for 150 yards, and has now thrown for 30 touchdowns on the year.
“He just does his thing,” Gibson said of Harmon. “We just try to keep people off balance with the pass and the run, and he’s done that all year, just being accurate.”
Bruce Garrett ran for 108 yards, James Wiggins added 88, and Nick Martin, Ryan Pickelman, and Will Cullipher added scoring runs for Pleasant Grove.
While the Pleasant Grove offense was doing its thing, the defense did a number on Iowa Park, limiting it to 284 yards and forcing two turnovers – an interception and fumble recovery from senior safety Tyler Kelley.
“We’ve got a new defensive coordinator this year and he’s my childhood friend,” Gibson said. ‘His dad and my dad coached together in college for over 20 years. For him and our defensive staff to do what they did this year with so many new starters, and work together that way … first and foremost, I’m proud for our staff.
“They had to put egos aside because we were bringing in somebody from the outside after winning state. Ultimately, super proud of the kids because they’re the ones that carry out the assignments and make the plays.”
The Pleasant Grove special teams also had a hand in the win.
Kam Woods blocked a punt and teammate Dylan Hopkins picked up the loose ball, returning it 14 yards for a touchdown and a 21-0 lead in the second quarter.
That came after Wiggins fumbled the ball out of the back end zone at the end of a 28-yard run, resulting in a touchback.
“We fumble going into the end zone, but they don’t panic, they pick each other up,” Gibson said. “We get a special teams play and my brother is the special teams coordinator. And he does a great job.”
Harmon’s 2-yard touchdown pass to Brett Walker on fourth down gave Pleasant Grove a 7-0 lead. PG made it 14-0 with 17 seconds to go in the quarter on a 44-yard pass from Harmon to Cobb.
Following the special teams touchdown, Harmon found Cobb again for a 49-yard touchdown, and Pleasant Grove went up 35-0 at halftime on a Pickelman 38-yard scoring run.
“I’ve got a lot of confidence in the receivers around me,” Harmon said. “They make me look a lot better than I am, and we had great protection up front. (The offensive line) dominated the line of scrimmage and made my job a whole lot easier.”
No. 8 Pleasant Grove 49, Iowa Park 14
Class 4A Division II Semifinal
At Ford Center, Frisco
Pleasant Grove 14 21 7 7 – 49
Iowa Park 0 0 7 7 – 14
PG—Brett Walker 2 pass from Ben Harmon (Dillon Williams kick), 7:06.
PG—Jackson Cobb 44 pass from Harmon (Williams kick), :17.
PG—Dylan Hopkins 14 blocked punt return (Williams kick), 4:29.
PG—Cobb 49 pass from Harmon (Williams kick), 1:19.
PG—Ryan Pickelman 38 run (Williams kick), :32.
IP—Brendin Fallon 14 run (Kase Johnson kick), 8:49.
PG—Nick Martin 17 run (Williams kick), :52.
PG—Will Cullipher 8 run (Williams kick), 4:43.
IP—Fallon 2 run (Johnson kick), 2:23.
First Downs 21 17
Total Yards 491 284
Rushes-Yards 42-341 36-168
Passing Yards 150 116
Comp.-Att.-Int. 6-8-1 12-21-1
Punts-Avg. 0-0 2-43.0
Fumbles-Lost 1-1 1-1
Penalties-Yards 2-15 0-0
RUSHING—Pleasant Grove, Bruce Garrett 16-108, James Wiggins 10-88, Will Cullipher 5-46, Ryan Pickelman 1-38, Ben Harmon 1-24, Nick Martin 1-17, Antonio Watkins 2-9, Andrew Legrand 2-6, Hayden Koller 2-5, Jackson Cobb 1-2, Team 1-(-2). Iowa Park, Brendin Fallon 13-69, Trent Green 13-61, Kaden Ashlock 2-21, Slayton Ochoa 4-19, Cirby Coheley 3-7, Team 1-(-9).
PASSING—Pleasant Grove, Harmon 6-8-1—150. Iowa Park, Green 12-21-1—116.
RECEIVING—Pleasant Grove, Cobb 3-110, Garrett 1-32, Wiggins 1-6, Brett Walker 1-2. Iowa Park, Ashlock 7-84, Coheley 2-30, Fallon 2-7, Reid Lalk 1-(-5).