For the second consecutive week, the Pierce City Eagles football team has outperformed its opponent in terms of yards gained on the field but ended up losing on the scoreboard. The state-ranked Greenfield Wildcats capitalized on turnovers to hand the Eagles a 37-20 defeat at Pierce City.
With an equal number of plays, Pierce City had 304 yards total offense to Greenfield's 222. Four fumbles, an interception and almost twice as much yardage lost to penalties kept the Eagles off-balance and behind in the scoring race despite promising drives.
Both teams played nearly even ball up to the last play of the first half. Greenfield scored on its opening drive in seven plays. On his second pass play of the night, quarterback Jordan Bryant connected with runningback Montana Hembree for a 28-yard gain to put Greenfield at Pierce City's five-yard line. Hembree ran in to score on the next play and Bryant kicked the field goal to make the score 7-0 with 9:50 left in the first quarter.
The Eagles and Wildcats went four-and-out before Pierce City mounted a scoring drive in eight plays. Quarterback Wayne Sooter, fullback Curtis Palmer, runningback Cody Cox and wide receiver Robert Baldwin demonstrated a varied running game, setting up Palmer's 10-yard run for the score. The extra point was blocked.
Greenfield then mounted a seven-play scoring drive, fired by a 32-yard pass to speedy wide receiver John Riley. Bryant ran in the second TD and kicked the extra point to make it a 14-6 game on the first play of the second quarter.
Neither team threatened to score until halftime. A booming Greenfield punt at one point pinned the Eagles at their own one-yard line. Getting the ball back in four plays, Greenfield got to Pierce City's 11, but defenders ran Bryant back to the 20 before he was called for intentional grounding.
Pierce City got the ball back, drove to midfield and set up a final passing play with less than two seconds on the clock. Before the play developed, however, Greenfield defenders reached Pierce City's quarterback. The ball was knocked loose, scooped up by Greenfield's Arek Grisham, who ran for the touchdown. Greenfield was then penalized for excessive celebration, putting the extra point kick out of range, leaving the score 20-6 in favor of the visitors at halftime.
Determined to get back in the game, Pierce City scored on the opening drive of the third quarter. Sooter connected on a long pass and the score to wide receiver Mitchell Gibson on the fifth play of the drive. The two-point conversion failed, bringing the home team closer at 12-20 with two-and-a-half minutes gone in the quarter.
Greenfield's next drive stalled out at midfield. Two plays later, a Sooter pass was tipped and landed in Wildcat hands at Pierce City's 26-yard line. Greenfield marched to the nine-yard line before a stiff defense forced the visitors to kick a field goal, putting the score at 12-23.
Pierce City's next drive ended in a 12-yard sack of the quarterback followed by a high snap on the punt, which turned into a failed pass play. Greenfield got the ball back on Pierce City's 23-yard line. Penalties on both teams and runs by runningback Austin Emery and Hembree led to Greenfield's TD. The extra point failed, putting the score at 29-12 for Greenfield four plays into the fourth quarter.
Two plays later Pierce City lost the ball on a fumble. Greenfield scored in four plays on a 27-yard pass play to Hembree. Luck continued for the Wildcats as a bad snap on the extra point turned into a successful run for two points by Bryant to put the score at 37-12.
Pierce City fired back with a 23-yard pass play to Gibson and a 40-yard dash by runningback Garrett Garman that took the Eagles to Greenfield's five-yard line. Sooter kept the ball twice to hammer in for the score. Palmer ran in the two-point conversion to make the score 20-37 with six-and-a-half minutes left.
Greenfield was stopped at midfield, giving the Eagles one more chance. Sooter ended up firing four consecutive incompleted passes as the clock ran down. With 46 seconds left, Bryant took a knee twice for Greenfield to end the game.
Garman was Pierce City's top running with 93 yards on eight plays. Gibson was second with 72 yards in four plays.
Hembree led the Wildcats with 85 yards in 12 plays. Jamie Gray came in next with 38 yards in 10 plays.
In other bi-county games on Friday, Miller downed Sarcoxie 21-0 in Spring River Valley Conference action. Marionville topped Pleasant Hope 16-6.
Pierce City goes on the road for the first time on Friday to play Lockwood.