In a stunning reversal of fortune, Pierce City turned its worst start of the season into its best performance on Friday against the Lockwood Tigers. After tying the game as the first half ended, the Eagles charged to a 33-13 win on the road.
Pierce City mustered only four yards in four plays in the first quarter. The Eagles returned the favor by holding Lockwood to a negative two yards in the fourth quarter despite 15 plays by the home team. The difference in the game was the freedom Pierce City gave Lockwood quarterback Blake Abbiatti to complete 12 passes in the first half with very little pressure. In the second half, the Eagles stormed the Lockwood offense and held Abbiatti to only two completions.
Lockwood appeared to be in control for much of the first half. The home team drove for its first touchdown on a 12-play opening drive, using five ball carriers. Abbiatti connected on three passes in the series and ran in the final five yards himself to score.
Pierce City lost the ball in three plays to an interception. Lockwood ran out the quarter with 10 more plays before Pierce City's Mitchell Gibson knocked away a fourth-down pass to give the Eagles the ball back. However, the Eagles' offense still could not move.
In four plays Lockwood was on the march again. In eight plays the Tigers scored again, carried by long pass plays to wide receivers Joseph Preston and Dylan Urtado. Abbiatti again ran in the score, but this time the extra point attempt failed, leaving Lockwood ahead 13-0 with a little over nine minutes left in the half.
Pierce City's fortunes changed on the next play. Wide receiver Jordan Saffer took the kickoff and ran a weaving pattern 78 yards for a touchdown. The extra point kick was off the mark, bringing Pierce City back 6-13.
The Eagles' defense now began to gel, resulting in three incomplete passes by Abbiatti to give Pierce City the ball back. This time Pierce City got through five plays before a deflected pass was grabbed by Lockwood's Preston. Two plays later the ball got loose and Pierce City recovered the fumble.
Pierce City quarterback Wayne Sooter then connected on a 30-yard pass play to runningback Cody Cox to get the Eagles moving. Cox ran a pitch down to the Lockwood 10-yard line, after which Sooter connected on a 10-yard pass to Gibson to tie the game with two and a half minutes left to halftime. An interception ended the Eagles' next drive as time wound down.
As the third quarter started, Pierce City mounted an eight-play drive the moved down to the Lockwood 13 before a sack and incomplete pass ended the drive. The Eagles' defenders then began to squeeze Lockwood, forcing a scrimmage line fumble and an incomplete pass to force the punt. On Lockwood's next possession, another fumble was recovered by Pierce City.
Pierce City appeared to score two plays later when Sooter ran 53 yards surrounded by blockers but the ball was called back for having an illegal man downfield. Two plays later, Lockwood defenders closed in on a scrambling Sooter, who pitched the ball to runningback Garrett Garman. With a head of steam Garman outraced defenders 57 yards up the sideline to score. The extra point kick was short, leaving Pierce City ahead 19-13 with a little over three minutes left in the quarter.
Lockwood moved into the fourth quarter on an eight-play drive that reached Pierce City's 17-yard line. Then the Eagles foiled three pass attempts to take over possession. Behind the running of fulback Curtis Palmer and Cox, the Eagles marched 83-yards in eight plays to score on a scrambling 19-yard run by Garman. The run for a two-point conversion failed, leaving the score at 25-13 with 7:28 left in the game.
Pierce City's defenders were so fired up that on Lockwood's next series, runningback Patrick Whittington lost ground on a pitch play, then Abbiatti was sacked for a nine-yard loss and threw a incomplete pass. The next time the Tigers got the ball, Abbiatti was sacked, threw one incomplete pass and an interception to Pierce City defensive end Chance Chapman.
Chapman's touchdown run was called back on an illegal block. But three plays later, with runs by Palmer and Garman, Sooter ran than last 11 yards in to score. On the extra point, ball holder Wayne Joe Sooter turned a place kick into a successful pass to Garman to raise the score to 33-13.
Lockwood ended the game with a run for a loss and three incomplete passes before Pierce City sent in the junior varsity team for three plays to run out the clock.
Garman was Pierce City's leading rusher with 89 yards on seven carries. Cox had 83 yards on eight carries.
Preston led Lockwood with 80 yards on seven carries. Whittington had 61 yards on 14 carries.
In other bi-county games, Greenfield came from behind in Spring River Valley Conference play to beat Miller with a fourth quarter touchdown, 20-18. Strafford shut out Marionville 40-0.
Pierce City hosts Liberal for homecoming this Friday.