For 24 minutes the Pierce City Eagles football team (5-0) played a complete game of football enroute to a 49-0 win over the Jasper Eagles on Friday.
The Pierce City squad played with a chip on its shoulder, remembering a one-point loss last season to Jasper and tired of being told that they were undefeated only because they play a weak schedule. The Eagles only needed 12 seconds to set the tone for the game and for the remainder of their season.
Pierce City's Cody Cox took the opening kick off and raced untouched 86 yards down the middle of the field to score.
"I saw a big hole open up, and I just ran through it," Cox said. "We thought they would squib the kick down the field. I was kind of surprised when they kicked it to me."
The Eagles' defense forced Jasper to punt on its first drive, allowing the Pierce City offense to go back to work.
The Eagles would cover 70 yards in five plays, capped by fullback Curtis Palmer's six-yard touchdown run with 7:28 to play in the first quarter. Palmer would find the end zone again on a short pitch and catch from quarterback Cedric O'Hara. That made the score Pierce City 21, Jasper 0 with 1:55 to play in the first quarter.
"I am very proud of my team tonight," said Head Coach Mac Whitehead. "They were focused and ready to play. We have an opportunity to be a special team. If we can play with the intensity we had tonight, good things will happen."
On the ensuing drive, Jasper's quarterback lobbed a pass toward the Pierce City sideline. Eagles' defensive back Robert Baldwin picked it off and raced 40 yards to make the score 28-0 with 41.3 seconds left in the first quarter.
"The secondary played great tonight," added Pierce City Assistant Coach Kenny O'Hara. "They got better as the game progressed. I love to coach these guys."
Chance Chapman blocked a Jasper punt with 10:28 to play in the second quarter. The blocked punt marked the fourth consecutive game Pierce City has achieved this rare feat.
After the blocked punt, Pierce City would need one play to score. O'Hara would find wide receiver Mitchell Gibson on a 28-yard touchdown pass to make the score 41-0 with 10:10 remaining in the second quarter.
Baldwin would get another pick with 4:55 to play in the second quarter to round out the scoring. Teammate Colton Dunn also had an interception for the game.
In the second half, Pierce City started to gash Jasper's defense with big runs, prompting the Eagles' coaches to implement a play that is usually reserved for the end of each half -- the kneel-down. Thirteen of the Eagles' last 15 snaps were kneel-downs.
"I am not here to embarrass an opponent," Whitehead said. "I felt it was more sportsmanlike to run that play than continue to run up the score. Jasper played hard the entire game. We had the game well in hand, and I meant no disrespect in running those (kneel-down) plays. If I had to do it all over again, I would do it the same way."
The Eagles scored in all three (defense, offense and special teams) phases of the game. It was truly a dominating effort.
Offensively, Pierce City scored on its first four possessions. Defensively, they held Jasper to negative 14 yards of offense, excluding Jasper's return yardage.
The Eagles return home this Friday for a match up against the McAuley Warriors.