Penalties, turnovers doom Black BearsPisgah commits five turnovers, penalized 13 times in loss
Leicester — At some point in most athletic contests, a game-changing, momentum-swinging event occurs.
In Erwin’s 46-31 victory over the Pisgah varsity football team Friday evening at Kerr Stadium, that moment came as the Black Bears were driving in the Warriors’ territory with 1:37 left in the second quarter.
Pisgah had the ball at Erwin’s 31 and a 24-20 lead when the center-quarterback exchange between seniors Cody Lamb and McKinley Brown was fumbled.
Erwin recovered the ball and the momentum.
The Warriors covered the 69 yards in four plays, helped along by three major infractions against Pisgah’s defense, as quarterback Austin Brown fired a four-yard pass to Jordan Tiger with 42 seconds left on the clock.
Erwin jubilantly went into halftime with a 26-24 lead. Pisgah left the field stunned.
“I thought our coaches put together a really good game plan for us to try to combat their speed,” said Pisgah Head Coach Brett Chappell. “The defense hung tough, did the things we needed to and I thought the last minute or so before halftime and that kickoff returned for a touchdown to start the second half just killed us.”
To make matters worse for Pisgah, Erwin’s Chavis Williams ran back the second half’s opening kickoff 82 yards for a touchdown to pad the lead to 32-24.
The Warriors scored again a few minutes later (9:27) on a Austin Brown 11-yard run. The final Erwin TD came with 5:37 left in the game when Kelman Simpson scored on a three-yard run.
The shell-shocked Black Bears finally answered when McKinley Brown threw an 18-yard TD pass to Hunter Wike with 3:36 left in the fourth quarter.
In the first half, the Warriors had trouble stopping Pisgah’s offense. Senior Dustin Messer scored on a two-yard run with 7:08 left in the first quarter to give the Black bears a 6-0 lead after the two-point conversion failed.
McKinley Brown fired a 14-yard TD pass to Wike and Messer threw the two-point conversion pass to senior Dylan Hannah to give Pisgah a 14-7 lead with 3:15 left in the opening quarter.
The Black Bears extended its lead to 21-7 with 47 seconds left in the first quarter when Brown and Wike hooked up on a 63-yard touchdown pass and senior Nathan Higdon kicked the PAT.
Midway through the second quarter, Higdon nailed a 23-yard field goal to give Pisgah a 24-14 lead.
From that point, Erwin scored 32 consecutive points before Pisgah’s final touchdown late in the game.
Erwin finished with 373 yards in total offense compared to Pisgah’s 363.
For the Black Bears, Brown was 17-of-32 for 256 passing yards with three scoring strikes of 14, 63 and 18 yards to Wike, who finished with eight catches for 195 yards. The receptions, receiving yards and three TDs were career-highs for Wike.
Pisgah managed only 104 yards on the ground as Messer, who left in the second half with a knee injury, led the Black bears with 51 yards on 15 carries.
Early in the first half, Pisgah senior wide receiver, defensive back and punter Jesse Anderson was helped off the field after suffering an ankle injury. At press time, the status of Anderson and Messer were not known.
The yellow flags were out in abundance as Erwin had 10 penalties (three major) for 90 yards and Pisgah was flagged 13 times (four major) for 120 yards. The Black Bears had five turnovers (three fumbles, two interceptions), which didn’t help their cause.
“I am not going to fault the outcome of the game on the officials,” said Chappell. “That had nothing to do with it. This team is a good team, who lost to a very good team. We certainly have to deal with and fix the excessive penalties if we are going to be a great team.”
The Black Bears fell to 2-1 overall and will host the 2-1 Hayesville Yellow Jackets at 7:30 p.m. Friday night at Memorial Stadium.