The Pierce City Eagles (3-4) traveled to Class 2 El Dorado Springs Bulldogs (2-5) on Oct. 5.
The game started well for Pierce City.
On the first play from scrimmage, senior Cedric O'Hara, took the hand-off and found a big hole in the line off the right side following the blocks of seniors Jacob Smith and Garron Cantrell.
O'Hara ran 56 yards for the game's first score to give the Eagles an early 6-0 lead.
El Dorado's first drive was three and out due to good defense by O'Hara and Dalton Boykin. Pierce City began their second offensive set at their own 21.
Nine plays later the Eagles were at the Bulldogs 21 with 36 more rushing yards by O'Hara. The drive stalled and, on fourth and long, Eagles' quarterback Kole Kelly was intercepted by El Dorado Springs safety Tanner Hixson.
On the Bulldogs' next series, the Pierce City defense was tough again, lead by Cantrell and Sam Crow. One first down and then a punt gave the ball back to the Eagles at their 28-yard line.
After a delay of game penalty, the drive took off. Kelly and Caleb Lasswell each had 8-yard runs, but once again it was the Spring River Valley Conference leading rusher, Cedric O'Hara, carrying five times for 52 yards and ending the drive with a 1-yard touchdown run. Pierce City led 12-0 at the end of the first quarter.
On El Dorado's next drive, the Bulldogs came out with a different offensive look. They lined up with two wingbacks and one running back. The offense was constant misdirection with wingbacks coming around on counters on every play.
"This was the same offense we saw against Sarcoxie," said Pierce City coach Matt Holt, "It gave us problems there, too."
The drive of 58 yards, 44 of those on one wingback counter play by Bulldogs' James DuBois, led to a 4-yard touchdown run by Hixson with 10:30 in the half. The kick by Kyle Collins was good and El Do -- as their cheerleaders called out -- was on the board.
Boykin fielded an on-side kick by El Dorado, but the Pierce City offense couldn't capitalize on the good field position and had to punt.
El Dorado started from their own 30-yard line.
On the first play, the pitch on a reverse to Derrick Taylor was fumbled. But after a mad scramble by both teams, Bulldog lineman Jacob Bowman recovered the ball for a 10-yard loss. Four minutes and eight plays later, quarterback Kason Schwalm took the ball across the goal line to give the Bulldogs a 13-12 lead.
Another on-side kick gave the Eagles good field position at the 44-yard line with 4:30 left in the half.
Nineteen yards by O'Hara and two pass completions from Kelly, one to Lasswell, the other to Colin Garner for a 9-yard touchdown pass and Pierce City regained an 18-13 lead heading into halftime.
The third quarter began with a drive by the Bulldogs that started after the opening kickoff was run back to the Pierce City 42-yard line.
Out of the double-wing formation, El Do threw a screen pass to DuBois for 19 yards and on the next play, Hixson broke several Pierce City tackles to go 25 yards for a touchdown to give the Bulldogs a 21-18 lead.
Pierce City's next drive stalled quickly and El Dorado then threw an interception to Zack Hyde who returned the ball to the Bulldogs 28.
This Eagles drive featured alternating carries by Kelly and O'Hara; with Kelly taking the last few yards to pay dirt. The extra-point kick was blocked, but another lead change gave the Eagles a 24-21 advantage.
El Dorado fumbled on their next drive and it was recovered by Hyde. The Eagles started the new drive with a 26-yard run by O'Hara, and a completion from Kelly to Caleb Lasswell ended the drive with a 26-yard pass over the middle to an open field and Pierce City extended their lead to 30-21 with 5:49 remaining in the third period.
But El Dorado, who had scored 55 points the previous week in a 61-55 loss, was not finished scoring and with 13 seconds left in the third quarter they would reach the end zone and take the lead back.
The rest of the game showed off the Bulldogs misdirection offense and two more touchdowns by James Dubois, once on the ground and once on a pass, leading to a final score of 50-30.
"They had the cut back all night on offense," said coach Holt. "Our defense did not play with much urgency tonight. We didn't chase or play well on the back side of the defense. We have a good team, but we have to play harder on the defensive side of the ball. El Dorado was a good team who has played a very tough schedule, but we can't let anyone hang 50 points on us again."
Next week Pierce City (3-4) hosts McAuley Catholic.
"We are battling McAuley and Lockwood for a 2 or 3 seed in the playoffs, and those are the next two games," said Holt. "We have to play well to finish this season." Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.