Pittsburg Avenges Last Year’s Blowout Loss + Upsets Ninth-Ranked Gladewater
[By Anthony Hawthorne, Special to ETSN.fm]
PITTSBURG -- Just a year removed from a 63-point defeat at the hands of the Gladewater Bears, the Pittsburg Pirates were out for revenge Friday night at Pirate Stadium.
The Pirates jumped out to a 28-0 lead, withstood a third-quarter rally, and pulled away for a 49-36 victory over ninth-ranked Gladewater.
Senior quarterback Brian Baca lead the way for the Pirates, completing 16 of 21 passes for 425 yards and four TD’s, while adding two scores on the ground. Baca's favorite target on the night was Damien Porter, who caught six passes for 232 yards and three TD’s, including a 92-yarder late that put the game out of reach.
“He’s a great leader,” head coach Brad Baca said of his quarterback, and brother, Brian. “He’s doing a phenomenal job of leading us. He’s never going to get down on himself or his teammates. I’m proud of the way he played tonight.”
It was a game of runs, as the Pirates (2-0) erupted for a 28-0 lead, only to have the Bears answer with 29 consecutive of their own.
Opening the second half trailing, 28-8, Gladewater used a late first-half score to develop momentum heading into the third quarter. The Bears scored on their first three possessions of the period to turn the game around.
Sophomore quarterback Dadrian Strickland connected with Caleb Williams twice on the opening drive, for 38 and 14 yards, to set up Marcello Jackson for the first of his two scores on the night.
The Bears forced a thee-and-out on the next Pirates possession, and struck quickly.
After a 22-yard punt gave Gladewater great field position at the Pirates 32-yard line, Justice Centers carried for 10 yards, and Jackson did the rest. A 5-yard run set up the 17-yard score, cutting the Pittsburg lead to 28-22.
The Pirates' only turnover on the night on their next possession allowed the Bears to take their first lead.
Baca connected with Deldric Shields for 23 yards, but the ball was knocked loose and recovered by Gladewater’s Austin Hawley, setting the Bears up once again with a short field, and the chance to grab the lead.
A 15-yard completion from Strickland to Cameron Callaway Jr. on third-and-12 kept the drive alive, and Strickland found his favorite target on the night, Williams, for a 9-yard TD to give the Bears a 29-28 lead.
With all the momentum on Gladewater's side, it looked as though the Bears might be primed for a big comeback.
The Pirates offense, led by Baca had a big response, scoring the game's next 21 points.
“They never wavered,” said Coach Baca of his team’s response. “They trusted us as a coaching staff, and I’m proud of my coaches and kids. They kept playing and never wavered.”
It took just four plays for the Pirates to regain the lead, as after a penalty, Baca hit Noah Thames for 13 yards, and then connected with Porter once again, this time up the sideline for a completion that went to the house from 70 yards.
The Bears' next drive was promising, reaching the Pirates' 28, before a fumble -- their third lost on the night -- gave the ball back to Pittsburg.
A personal foul penalty on Gladewater moved the ball across midfield, and Baca connected with Shields for 43 yards on third-and-6 to the Bears' 2-yard line. The QB called his own number on the next play, scoring his second rushing TD on the night, which gave the Pirates a 42-29 lead.
Pittsburg forced a three-and-out once again, led by linebacker Fre’Zarian Harrison, who was all over the field, forcing a sack and several tackles for loss.
The Pirates essentially finished things off two plays later as Baca hit Porter on a quick hitch that went up the sideline for a 92-yard touchdown.
The Bears used a solid kickoff return by Clint Starling to start at the Pirates 22-yard line, and five plays later Strickland hit Williams for a 9-yard score.
The Bears' (1-1) onside kick attempt was recovered by Shields, and the Pirates were able to run out the clock.
“I’m so proud of these boys, the way they fought through” said Coach Baca. “We came out fast, had some adversity hit, got down a point but the guys never quit. They kept believing, and they did what we tell them to do all the time, and that’s control your attitude and effort. They did just that.”
Pittsburg jumped out to a quick start in the first half, scoring on three of their first four possessions.
Starting at their own 34-yard line it took the Pirates just five plays to score. Baca hit Billy Kimble for 12 yards, then Dejour Dowell for 52 yards to the Bears' 1-yard line. Two plays later, Baca kept it himself, bulldozing his way into the end zone for the early 7-0 lead.
Just two plays later, the Pirates got the ball back following a strip of Jackson that was recovered by Dalton Ernest.
Baca hit Porter for 19 yards on third-and 17, moving the ball to the Bears' 32-yard line. After a sack by Quanterius Turner forced third-and-20, Tray Walker ran for 9 yards to set up fourth-and-11. Baca then hit Porter in stride for a 33-yard strike to put the Pirates up 14-0.
A Centers run for 46 yards to the Pirates' 5-yard line set the Bears up with first-and-goal. After consecutive stuffs by the Pirates' defense, the quarterback-center exchange was fumbled and recovered by Ernest -- his second on the night.
The Pirates consumed nearly four minutes of clock as they marched 88 yards in 11 plays, with Baca going 4-of-5 on the drive for 49 yards, and adding a 24-yard scamper. The drive finished with a 22-yard score from Baca to Dowell, putting the Pirates on top, 21-0.
The Pirates pushed their lead even further late in the second quarter, with Walker taking the first play of the drive 49 yards to the house, stunning the Bears and giving the Pirates a commanding 28-0 lead.
Gladewater finally found the scoreboard on its final drive of the half. Strickland hit Callaway Jr. for 45 yards to the Pirates' 5-yard line, and Centers scored on the next play, and tacked on the 2-point conversion for the 28-8 halftime deficit.
Centers lead the way for the Bears with 116 yards on 19 carries and a TD, while Jackson added two scores and 58 yards on 11 carries. Strickland completed 8 of his 17 passes for 127 yards and a score.
The Bears return to action next Saturday when they travel to Independence Stadium in Shreveport to take on Bossier City Parkway. Pittsburg will host New Boston next Friday at Pirate Stadium.
Pittsburg 49, No. 9 Gladewater 36
At Pirate Stadium, Pittsburg
Gladewater 0 8 21 7 -- 36
Pittsburg 14 14 7 14 -- 49
PIT--Brian Baca 3 run (Alex Rodriguez kick), 8:48.
PIT--Damien Porter 33 pass from Baca (Rodriguez kick), 5:21.
PIT--Dejour Dowell 22 pass from Baca (Rodriguez kick), 11:30.
PIT--Tray Walker 49 run (Rodriguez kick), 1:49.
GLA--Justice Centers 2 run (Centers run), 1:12.
GLA--Marcello Jackson 8 run (Fernando Serrano kick), 8:21.
GLA--Jackson 17 run (Serrano kick), 5:54.
GLA--Caleb Williams 9 pass from Dadrian Strickland (Serrano kick), 1:53.
PIT--Porter 70 pass from Baca (Rodriguez kick), :38.
PIT--Baca 2 run (Rodriguez kick), 7:20.
PIT--Porter 92 pass from Baca (Rodriguez kick), 5:06.
GLA--Williams 9 pass from Strickland (Serrano kick), 2:34.
First Downs 13 12
Total Yards 330 576
Rushes-Yards 41-203 34-151
Passing Yards 127 425
Comp.-Att.-Int. 8-17-0 16-21-0
Punts-Avg. 3-34.0 3-30.0
Fumbles-Lost 5-3 1-1
Penalties-Yards 2-16 10-79
RUSHING--Gladewater, Justice Centers 19-116, Marcello Jackson 11-58, Dadrian Strickland 10-28, Darnell McKnight 1-1. Pittsburg, Tray Walker 17-91, Elijah Boyd 5-36, Damien Porter 2-16, Brian Baca 9-11, Dalton Warrick 1-(-3).
PASSING--Gladewater, Strickland 8-17-0--127. Pittsburg, Baca 16-21-0--425.
RECEIVING--Gladewater, Caleb Williams 6-67, Cameron Callaway Jr. 2-60. Pittsburg, Porter 6-232, Dejour Dowell 5-93, Deldric Shields 3-85, Noah Thames 1-13, Billy Kimble 1-12.