Before the season began Pierce City Coach Mac Whitehead stated that the Eagles' identity was going to be forged on the defensive side of the ball. Last Friday the Pierce City defense fulfilled Whitehead's promise as the Eagles held off the Marionville Comets 14-7.
"Offensively, we played well enough to win," said Whitehead. "We are still fighting some fundamental errors that should have been eliminated by this stage in the season."
Hitting the field one week after the teams first loss of the season, the Eagles were looking to dominate and get rid of the sour taste of defeat. Holding Marionville to a three and out, Pierce City would drive the ball 44 yards in five plays and scored at the 8:08 mark of the first quarter, on running back Cody Cox's eight-yard run. The drive took 1:57 off the clock. The point after touchdown was blocked.
"Initially we had all the momentum," said Whitehead. "We started our first three drives in Comet territory and only came away with one score. We needed to do a better job of taking advantage of the short field."
Capitalizing on Eagles' mental mistakes, the Comets were able to take their first possession of the second quarter and extend the drive on a Pierce City running into the kicker penalty.
"All night we struggled with mental mistakes," said Whitehead. "Penalties that allow opponents to continue drives make coaches grow old very quickly."
Defiant to the Eagles' wishes the Comets marched 85 yard, in 11 plays chewing up 4:23 of the quarter and scored on a 10-yard quarterback keeper with 4:39 left in the half. The extra point was good and Marionville took a 7-6 lead.
"Our boys were faced with an important decision at that stage of the game," added Assistant Coach Kenny O'Hara. "They could fight though the frustration of the evening or just give up."
Urged on by the partisan crowd at Don Keebaugh Stadium, Pierce City on the ensuing procession moved the ball 61-yards in four plays to take the lead for good. Cox once again supplied the score, racing 50-yards to pay dirt. The two-point conversion was good and the Eagles took a 14-7 lead.
Guarding a seven-point lead in the second half, Pierce City's defense dialed up the pressure. Marionville only managed 55 total yards and three first downs in the second half.
"We blitzed more in the second half," said Assistant Coach Doug Weatherly. "I thought we were too passive in the first part of the game and we allowed the Marionville quarterback too much time in the pocket."
The Pierce City Eagles travel to Urbana to face Skyline in a must win game this Thursday. A win and Pierce City will claim second place in the district and advance to the Missouri playoffs. A loss and the season is over.