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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

PC Eagles get back on track, rout Jasper 44-0

Monday, September 26, 2011

Crunch time. Pierce City's Garron Cantrell, at left, Curtis Palmer, at center, and Sam Crow converge to sack the Jasper quarterback. [Photo by Traci Osborn]
This was a different Pierce City Eagles football team. It was the same players and same coaches in the same stadium, but you could see the difference from the first series as Pierce City (4-1) routed the Jasper Eagles (0-5) in a 44-0 battle of the Eagles.

"Last week was a wake-up call for our guys," said head coach Mac Whitehead. "It showed them that nobody is going to lay down for us just because we're Pierce City."

Jasper certainly didn't lay down, but they couldn't match the Pierce City speed on the outside.

A flying Eagle. Senior Wayne Joe Sooter scoots down the field during the third quarter of Pierce City's 44-0 win over Jasper. [Photo by Traci Osborn]
The return of Wayne Joe Sooter after a two-week absence was a huge part of Pierce City's success. Sooter had 128 all-purpose yards on the night, including a punt return of 42 yards for a touchdown and another run of 38 yards for a touchdown.

Missing starting defensive tackle Zach Crouch, out for the season with a torn ACL, the Pierce City defense came up big.

After winning the coin toss and deferring to the second half, the Pierce City defense forced Jasper into a three and out on its first possession.

Pierce City took over after the punt and marched the ball 71 yards for a Cedric O'Hara 10-yard touchdown run. The PAT kick was low, and Pierce City led 6-0.

Pierce City again forced Jasper to punt after three downs led to a net loss of three yards.

Pierce City took possession on its own 47-yard line. This time they struck quickly. Six plays saw fullback Curtis Palmer rumble 24 yards up the middle for the touchdown. Pierce City went for two and Sooter went in untouched. Pierce City was up 14-0.

After the ensuing kick, Jasper took over on its own 27. Two Pierce City penalties, one for pass interference, helped the Jasper cause but an interception by Cedric O'Hara ended the Jasper drive.

Pierce City ran only three plays before a miscommunication between O'Hara and Sooter on the hand-off led to a fumble, and Jasper recovered on the Eagle 42.

Two runs for no gain and a Jason Cutbirth tackle for a loss brought Jasper to fourth and 14. They decided to go for it, but the pass fell incomplete and Pierce City took over on downs.

After a personal foul penalty gave Pierce City 15 yards, it took only two plays to score on a 14-yard run by O'Hara. Palmer completed the two-point conversion, and Pierce City led 22-0.

Jasper again found themselves in long yardage on second down and attempted a pass, which was again intercepted by O'Hara and run back to the Jasper 17-yard line. Three plays later O'Hara scored from three yards out. The two-point conversion was good on a pass from O'Hara to Cody Fitchpatrick. The Pierce City lead was 30-0.

Jasper was unable to advance the ball and again turned it over on downs.

Pierce City put together a drive that included passes of 17 yards from O'Hara to Caleb Laswell and nine to Sooter and Pierce City was threatening to score again. A fumble on a shotgun snap that sailed over O'Hara's head was recovered by Jasper.

Jasper's ensuing drive stalled after four plays, and they were forced to punt. Sooter fielded the punt at the Jasper 42 and returned it for a touchdown. The PAT was good.

Pierce City went in at the half up 37-0.

The second half would be no different for Jasper. Inability to move the ball effectively against the Pierce City defense caused short field situations that the Pierce City offense was quick to take advantage of.

Jasper attempted an on-side kick to open the second half but the ball failed to travel the required 10 yards, and after the penalty, Jasper again tried the on-side kick. The special teams unit for Pierce City mishandled the kick, but the ball went out of bounds.

With a short field, it took Pierce City only three plays to score. Palmer took a hand-off up the middle for 14 yards. Jasper moved eight men into the box to stop Palmer, and Sooter took the pitch on the outside for 39 yards and the touchdown. The PAT was good and Pierce City was in command 44-0.

With the big lead late in the third period, Coach Whitehead took out most of his starting offense. Neither team was able to gain much ground, and the game ended without either team scoring again.

"This is the team I've been waiting to see," said Whitehead. "I thought both units played well. Getting Wayne Joe back was big for us. That kind of God-given speed can't be coached, and it adds another dimension to our game on offense."

The defensive backfield play was also greatly improved. Jasper only completed one pass and was picked off twice.

"Coach O'Hara challenged them this week in practice," said Whitehead. "You have to remember that our corners are just sophomores. They have only had four varsity games. They have the physical tools but not the experience. They worked really hard in practice this week, and it showed on the field."

Pierce City travels to Joplin Friday to play McAuley.

"They like to throw the ball around a lot," said Whitehead. "It will be a good test for us to see how ready we are for district play against teams that like to sling it around."

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

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