Monday, September 24, 2012

THRILLER! Goal-line stand in OT clinches win for Pirates against Bonner Springs


Following Friday night's Piper-Bonner Springs game, Pirates head coach Chris Brindle and his coaching staff were winded and exhausted.

And they coached the winning team.

In what will go down as one of the best games in recent Wyandotte County football history, Piper defeated Bonner Springs 29-23 in overtime in a game that featured more swings than a baseball game.

"It was so emotional," Brindle said after the victory. "It was a super-charged game and we both played extremely hard. The kids took some big blows all night long."

Emotions were high early and often in the game.

Piper return specialist and running back Paul Jones returned the opening kickoff 88-yards for a touchdown to put Piper up 7-0.

Following the touchdown, the Pirates self-destructed, helping the Braves get back in the game.

Piper was called for three 15-yard penalties on one drive alone as Braves quarterback Jordan Jackson capped it off with a touchdown from five yards out.

The touchdown came a few plays after his 53-yard touchdown rush was wiped off the board by a holding call.

Piper continued being generous to the Braves offense as a pass interference penalty was key in Bonner's second touchdown drive of the game.

Jackson again scored from five yards out to extend the Braves lead to 12-7.

One of three Piper turnovers in the first half would lead to the next Braves touchdown. A bad snap over quarterback Tanner Eikenbary's head was recovered by Kyle Dumler.

On the next play, Jackson connected on an 18-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Thaddeus Young. A two-point conversion later, Bonner led 20-7 and appeared to seize the momentum entering halftime.

However, a key play from an unsung hero for the Pirates kept them in the game.

In an effort to keep the kickoff away from Jones, Bonner Springs pooched the ensuing kickoff. But the pooch did not prevent a big return, as Piper's Cliff Rangel returned the ball deep into Bonner Springs territory.

Matt McDonald would punch in the touchdown for the Pirates, his fourth in two weeks.

It was Rangel's return that flipped the momentum, getting the Pirates back into the game.

"Everybody contributes to a win and Cliff found a spot to make an impact," Brindle said. "Our guys found a way to capitalize off of it."

After a relatively high scoring first half, both defenses stiffened up and the physicality of the game picked up a few notches.

Both Eikenbary and Jackson took tremendous hits over and over again. Bonner Springs' defensive line put considerable pressure on Eikenbary several times. In Jackson's case, he took the majority of rushing carries in the second half for the Braves.

Finally, midway through the third quarter, it was Eikenbary who put Piper back on top.

He connected on a 36-yard touchdown pass to Maverek Dearinger. Following the extra point, Piper led again at 21-20.

A few minutes later, it was the Bonner Springs defense that had to save the game.

Bonner Springs failed to convert a 4-and-1 fake punt attempt deep inside its own territory. Bonner's defense responded, however, forcing a "four and out" and turning the ball right back over.

From there, it was Jackson once again who made some big plays.

On a fourth-and-long in Piper territory, Jackson found wide receiver Mason Roberts, who made a nice play to make the first down.

A few Jackson rushes later, the Braves kicked a field goal to put them back on top at 23-21.

Piper's offense, which was off the field a majority of the second half, began moving the ball down the field.

McDonald gained some nice yardage early in the drive, which would wind up on a fourth-and-one from the Bonner Springs five.

Once again, it was the Braves defense responding when it absolutely needed to. Piper was stuffed on fourth-and-short.

Next in the spotlight to make an impact, it was Piper's defense.

Multiple Piper defenders tackled Jackson inside the end zone a few plays after a false start penalty was called on the Braves.

Both teams failed to score in the final minutes of regulation, setting the stage for one of the most dramatic overtime periods you could imagine.

With Piper receiving the ball first, the Bonner Springs defense sacked Eikenbary for a 10-yard loss to open overtime.

Eikenbary, however, displayed the leadership and maturity required to execute well at the quarterback position.

On the very next play, Eikenbary found Sean Eskina for a 20-yard touchdown pass. The extra-point was no-good, leaving the score 29-23.

As Bonner Springs opened up its possession on the 10-yard-line, Jackson found a wide receiver for a seven-yard gain.

After two rushes left the ball at the one-yard-line, it all came down to one play - fitting for a game as wild as this one was.

Jackson took the sneak, but was hit behind the line. On a second effort, Jackson attempted to stretch the ball over the goal-line, but the officiating crew called him just short of the touchdown.

Thus, both Piper and Bonner Springs leave the week 3-1.

The game featured several physical plays from two teams that made it an effort to bulk up and get tough during the summer.

Emotions were also in high swing, according to McDonald.

"It was a really big game and tempers flared up," McDonald said. "We know we have to back each other up as a unit."

McDonald made some big plays in pass defense for the Pirates to keep Piper in the game. He also had that touchdown to cut the Bonner Springs lead in half.

"After we scored, we said they can't score," McDonald said about the overtime period. "It was no choice for us."

For Brindle, it was his team's mental toughness that also stood out Friday night.

"We talked about mental toughness during the game and at the half," Brindle said. "That was my speech. Because of our recent success, we felt like we may have been down by 20 points."

Piper stays undefeated in the Kaw Valley League, improving to 3-1 overall and 3-0 in the league. Bonner Springs falls to 3-1 in both categories.