Black Bears take down rival JetsPisgah’s defense holds Enka’s Holloway to just 78 yards
CANTON — Offense wins games and defense wins championships.
So this wasn’t the state championship game. It wasn’t even a playoff game. It was just the home opener for the Pisgah varsity football team with their new head coach Brett Chappell. But most of the crowd of 7,633 made it feel as if it were a playoff game. They even started a new tradition of jumping up and down in the stands before the Black Bears roared onto the field through their new tunnel before the opening kickoff.
That being said, Pisgah had a lot to prove, even if it was against Enka.
They did just that by beating the Jets, 28-7, improving to 2-0 and shutting down the Jets’ talented running back Tommy Holloway.
“Consistency seams to be a good thing for us right now,” said Coach Chappell. “We are consistently flying around on defense. We are consistently moving the ball and scoring enough points. Unfortunately, we have been consistently getting too many penalties. You like for your kids to be aggressive and certainly ours are, but sometimes it’s a little more than they should be and certainly we have to address those because we have some really good teams coming up, beginning with Erwin next week.
“So we have some things to take care of and continue to clean up, but I am very proud of our team. We are 2-0 and moving in the right direction.”
Four the last four years, the Pisgah defense has been something to laugh about or look over when it comes to Black Bear football. But this year’s Pisgah defensive unit has quickly changed that perception.
The Black Bears held Enka to 79 yards in total offense for the first half, 197 for the entire game and more importantly, held Holloway to just 78 yards on 23 carries.
As for Pisgah’s offense, they still haven’t found their stride running the ball, finishing with only 139 yards. But the passing game is beginning to find its rhythm as senior quarterback McKinley Brown finished 9-of-14 for 166 yards and threw an 83-yard scoring strike to senior Hunter Wike to give the Black Bears a 6-0 lead (two-point conversion run failed) with 11:46 left in the second quarter.
“We are making plays all the time and we are going to keep grounding and pounding,” said Brown. “I can’t take any credit, it’s the guys up front that are doing their job and the running backs and receivers doing theirs that makes me look good. Our defense is looking awesome. They are flying to the ball and making some tackles.”
On the receiving end of Brown’s passes was Wike (two for 94 yards), senior Jesse Anderson (three for 48 yards), sophomore Jesse Martinez (one for 17 yards), senior Dustin Messer (two for four yards) and senior Dylan Hannah (one for three yards).
With the defense putting the clamps on Holloway, Pisgah was able to take a 14-0 lead into halftime after Martinez scored on an 11-yard run with 2:02 left in the second quarter and Brown flipped a pass to Hannah on the conversion.
Pisgah was able to win a fifth consecutive season opener and send the crowd home happy. It’s going to take a little more execution on both ends of the ball to continue an undefeated season.
Two touchdowns by senior Dustin Messer in the third quarter allowed the Black Bears to take a commanding 28-0 lead before Chappell’s staff subbed freely in the fourth quarter.
Messer, who finished with 92 yards on 18 carries, scored on a two-yard run with 10:40 left in the third and bowled over an Enka defender at the one, knocking him back into the end zone, on his five-yard TD run. Senior placekicker Nathan Higdon kicked both PATs.
Pisgah’s defense had not allowed any points through the first seven quarters this season. But a slip on the turf allowed Enka to stop that streak.
With 10:44 left in the fourth quarter, the Jets’ backup QB Hunter Graham, who was subbing for senior Tyler Pressley after he went out with a knee injury in the first quarter, threw a 25-yard TD pass to Zane Capps in the corner of the end zone.
At Memorial Stadium Friday night, Pisgah honored all the the branches of the military with “Active and Veteran Armed Serives Appreciation Night.”
A special award was presented prior to the game’s opening kickoff by representatives of the United States Army to a Pisgah senior football player, who they believed best represented the branch’s seven core values.
At mid-field, the U.S. Army presented Messer its Seven Core Values Award.
By the Army’s standards, it was determined that Messer is the best example of a young man who lives by their seven codes of loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage.
“Instead of thanking the soliders who presented me with this honor, I just thanked them for serving our country,” said Messer.
Messer’s father echoed the feelings of the fans packed in Memorial Stadium.
“We are so proud of Dustin,” said Dewayne Messer. “That was a great honor for the Army to give him that award.”
Pisgah travels to Erwin Friday, Sept. 6.