Pleasant Grove Stymies Late Pittsburg Comeback to Win, 44-41
FRISCO -- Pleasant Grove showed Friday that playoff experience can make a huge difference late in games.
The Hawks were twice faced with an onside kick and twice recovered late Friday.
They held a small lead throughout the final quarter, but couldn't stop Pittsburg from scoring. The special teams came up clutch, recovering the final kick with seconds remaining to secure a 44-41 victory against the Pirates in a 4A D-II state quarterfinal at the Ford Center in Frisco.
The victory marks the second time in as many seasons that Pleasant Grove (13-2) has advanced this far into the postseason. It won its first state championship in 2017, defeating West Orange Stark in the 4A D-II game.
“I couldn’t be more proud of them," coach Josh Gibson said. "If we would have come out on the other side of it, I’d still be saying the same thing. They worked their tails off. They invest so much. It’s just a special group. We only returned two kids on offense, so this is a huge deal for us. That team is so athletic and talented. Our kids came back again and found a way to get it done.”
The game appeared to be over with 1:10 left in the fourth. Bruce Garrett, who had burned the Pirate defense all game, broke loose for a 49-yard touchdown to give PG a 44-35 lead.
But the Pirates (10-4) weren't ready to give up so easily.
They drove downfield in a flash, first with a long pass to Keontae Burns, who broke a few more tackles to put the Pirates in the red zone. Pittsburg scored when Desmond Allen took a pitch and tossed it back to Burns, who hit a wide open Jimmerson for a 11-yard touchdown with 12 seconds remaining.
After the two-point conversion failed, Pittsburg set up for the onside kick. The ball bounced and for a moment appeared as if it might fall into the Pirates' hands. However, PG recovered and took a knee to end the game.
The Pirate defense had no answer for Garrett, who finished with 220 yards rushing and three touchdowns. After Jimmerson scored a touchdown with 10:17 remaining to make it a one-possession game, the Hawks used Garrett and James Wiggins to methodically run nearly seven minutes off the clock, as the drive ended with a 22-yard field goal from Dillon Williams to make it 37-28 lead with 3:19 left.
“They’re tough kids," Gibson said. "They get after it. We needed to burn some clock. To have them running the way they do, I think it was wearing their defense down with that style of running.”
Pittsburg got off to a hot start, with Keontae Burns opening the scoring on a 29-yard catch. He threw a Hawk defender off of him early, juking a couple of more players on his way to the end zone.
Jaylon Jimmerson scored next, showing off his speed on a quarterback keeper that went 35 yards. That gave the Pirates a 14-0 lead after the first quarter.
That began the Pleasant Grove comeback.
Bruce Garrett scored the Hawks' first touchdown, a 14-yard run around the corner. That seemed to spark something in PG. Jackson Cobb followed up with a 43-yard touchdown catch on the ensuing possession, but a missed PAT allowed Pittsburg to hold on to a slim 14-13 lead.
It wouldn't have it for long. Tyler Kelley returned an interception 47 yards for a touchdown to give Pleasant Grove a 20-14 lead that it would carry into halftime.
“That’s who he is," Gibson said. "He missed a play earlier. He comes back and he’s resilient. Comes back and takes that to the house. That was a game-changing play.”
Jimmerson led the Pirates with 278 total yards, five total touchdowns and two interceptions on defense.
The victory marked the second time this season that Pleasant Grove defeated Pittsburg. The two came out of the same district and the Hawks won 45-20 earlier in the year.
Pleasant Grove will face Iowa Park in the state semifinals at 7:30 p.m. Friday back at the Ford Center in Frisco.
Pleasant Grove 44, Pittsburg 41
Class 4A Division II, Region II Final
At Ford Center, Frisco
Pittsburg 14 0 7 20 – 41
Pleasant Grove 0 20 14 10 – 44
PITT – Keontae Burns 29 pass from Jaylon Jimmerson (Giovanny Rojas kick), 3:59.
PITT—Jimmerson 35 run (Rojas kick), 0:27.
PG—Bruce Garrett 14 run (Dillon Williams kick), 8:44.
PG—Jackson Cobb 43 pass from Ben Harmon (kick failed), 4:13.
PG – Tyler Kelley 47 interception return (Williams kick), 2:36.
PITT—Desmond Allen 1 run (Rojas kick), 10:39.
PG—Ben Harmon 1 run (Williams kick), 7:32.
PG—Garrett 27 run (Williams kick), 0:42.
PITT—Jimmerson 12 run (Rojas kick), 10:17.
PG—Williams 22 field goal, 3:19.
PITT—Keithlen Griffin 68 pass from Jimmerson (Rojas kick), 2:38.
PG—Garrett 49 run (Williams kick), 1:10.
PITT—Jimmerson 11 pass from Burns (two-point failed), 0:12.
First Downs 11 17
Total Yards 368 380
Rushes-Yards 24-143 48-297
Passing Yards 225 83
Comp.-Att.-Int. 10-17-2 4-11-2
Punts-Avg. 3-35.3 2-46.5
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 0-0
Penalties-Yards 6-60 4-25
RUSHING—Pittsburg, Desmond Allen 15-93, Jaylon Jimmerson 7-53, Keithlen Griffin 1-2, Team 1-(-5). Pleasant Grove, Bruce Garrett 27-220, James Wiggins 12-47, Ben Harmon 6-24, Ryan Pickleman 2-5, Will Cullipher 1-1.
PASSING— Pittsburg, Jimmerson 9-16-2--214, Keontae Burns 1-1-0--11. Pleasant Grove, Harmon 4-11-2--83.
RECEIVING—Pittsburg, Burns 5-113, Griffin 4-101, Jimmerson 1-11. Pleasant Grove, Jackson Cobb 2-56, Dylan Hopkins 1-14, Braydon Pyron 1-13.