Black Bears shutdown Black HawksPisgah’s defense records first shutout since Sept. 3, 2010
WEAVERVILLE — The Pisgah varsity football team did not have a very good defense a year ago. As a matter of fact, the 39.2 points allowed per game average was one of the worst in Western North Carolina.
So it was without question they had something to prove in Friday night’s 2013 season opener at North Buncombe and it appeared the 11 members of the unit have grown some teeth.
Pisgah’s “D” stole the show as the unit contributed eight points, allowed just 80 yards in total offense, picked off three passes, caused three fumbles, recovered one, recorded 18 plays that went for negative yards and shutout its first opponent since Sept. 3, 2010 as the Black Bears began the “Brett Chappell Era” with a 44-0 thrashing of North Buncombe.
Oh, and the Pisgah offense (271 yards in total offense) wasn’t too bad either, despite shooting itself in the “paw” several times with a fumble inside the five, an interception in the end zone and several drive-killing penalties.
“Our defense set the tone for the game,” said Pisgah Head Coach Brett Chappell. “I really felt good that our defense was going to do a good job, but we wanted to be able to prove it on the scoreboard. To shutout North Buncombe and sub as much as we did all game says a lot about this group of young men. For the defense and for our team as a matter of fact, it has become a pride thing. Now, as for the effort and energy, it was outstanding. But obviously, we weren’t as sharp as we wanted to be and there are some things we have to clean up on the offensive side. I thought the special teams had a great game (tonight). But we are very encouraged because we are 1-0.”
One of the top defensive performances, and definitely not the only one, were turned in by defensive back Vadrey Crouch, who recorded 6.5 total tackles including three for loss.
“I am trying to do whatever I can for my team,” said Crouch. “It’s my senior year and I know there are not too many more Friday nights to play football. So I play all out and if my play can inspire my teammates or it helps the team win, then that’s how I will make my contribution.”
Another defensive gem turned in was by senior linebacker Dylan Hannah.
“It felt good to finally get the season kicked off and get after it,” said Hannah. “We won and it’s a good feeling knowing I made a contribution to the win. But we have a lot of things to work on before next week’s game with Enka. All we are going to do is work hard this week, get better and put all our focus on Enka.”
In the opener, Pisgah managed to score five different ways en route to its 44-0 win and it was its defense which scored first and gave the Black Bears a 6-0 lead (two-point conversion failed) halfway through the first quarter.
Having pinned North Buncombe inside the five yard line, the Black Hawks elected to attempt a pass into the flats on a third down play, but junior cornerback Trevor Johnson undercut the intended receiver, picked off the pass at the North Buncombe 12 and returned it for a touchdown.
Following a interception at the North Buncombe 37 by senior Hunter Wike, who returned it to the Black Hawks two, senior Dustin Messer scored on the next play and senior quarterback McKinley Brown completed a pass to Hannah for two points, giving Pisgah a 14-0 lead with 3:56 left in the first quarter.
With 1:50 left in the first quarter, Wike again became a thorn in the Black Hawks side when he hauled in a 57-yard TD pass from Brown and Nathan Higdon’s PAT gave Pisgah a 21-0 lead.
“It feels great to open the season with a win,” said Wike. “As for that TD pass, I can’t say enough about McKinley, who just aired it out and put it right on the money. I didn’t even have to move my arms. You can’t ask for anything better than that. We have worked hard all summer and it looks like it is paying off. But we are still hungry.”
The lead stayed at 21 until senior Jesse Anderson returned a punt for 42 yards for six points with 2:50 left in the second quarter and Messer ran in the two-point conversion to give the Black Bears a 29-0 halftime lead.
Pisgah had 183 yards in total offense at the half compared to North Buncombe’s 31.
Late in the third quarter (2:56), the Black Bears marched 65 yards to the North Buncombe three, but lost a fumble on a exchange miscue between Brown and Messer.
But on the next play, a North Buncombe’s running back was tackled by a host Kyle Terrell in the endzone for a safety. Pisgah led, 31-0.
On North Buncombe’s ensuing possession, junior defensive back Lucas Hall intercepted a long pass inside Pisgah’s territory and sophomore Jesse Martinez gained 43 yards on a sweep and then capped the four-play drive with a three-yard TD run with 10 seconds left in the third quarter.
Messer scored on a five yard run early in the fourth to give Pisgah a 44-0 lead.
The Black Bears finished with 159 yards on the ground and were led by Messer, who rushed for 65 yards on 11 carries and scored twice. Martinez had 51 yards in seven carries and Hannah picked up 25 yards on five carries.
Brown was 9-of-20 for 116 yards and threw one TD and was picked off once. Wike hauled in two passes for 65 yards, Anderson caught two passes for 20 yards and Martinex had two receptions for 16 yards.
Pisgah also finished with 480 all-purpose yards.
Starting the season with a win and considering it will be the first home game under Coach Chappell, Pisgah is expecting a sellout crowd on Friday, Aug. 30, when rival Enka invades Memorial Stadium for its annual 7:30 p.m. non-conference battle with the Jets.