A two-point conversion was the difference in the Friday home loss for the Peabody-Burns High School football team.
The Warriors were down 20 points to Little River in Peabody at the end of the first half. Three Hunter Pickens touchdown runs tied the score at 20 in the third quarter, part of a five-touchdown night for the PBHS quarterback. Pickens ran for another score with 2 minutes, 27 seconds left in the game to bring PBHS within two at 34-32. However, the Warriors could not haul in a Pickens pass to tie the game.
Braxton Kyle took the opening kickoff to the Warrior 28-yard line to set up the offense. A holding penalty on first down set the tone for an ineffective series that included a 1-yard gain and an incomplete pass. A third-down PBHS fumble set up Little River in Warrior territory.
Despite stops from Hunter Pickens, Kyle, and Tommy Morris, the Redskin offense moved the ball downfield and scored on a first-and-10 from the Warrior 15. The two-point conversion was stopped by Pickens. Little River took a 6-0 lead with 9:23 left in the first quarter.
The Warriors’ offensive troubles continued in the second series that began at the PBHS 15-yard-line. Kyle caught a Pickens pass to earn a first down at the 27-yard line. It took four downs to move the ball 11 yards with two Pickens runs and a completion to Christian Gard. The drive halted at midfield when a completion was fumbled for another Warrior turnover.
The Warrior defense stopped Little River on the next series. Plays from Gard, Xavier Jabary, Jayden Miller, Kyle and Lucas Larsen forced a fourth-and-10 at the Warrior 39-yard line. Miller sacked the Little River quarterback on the play and the Warriors took over at the Redskin 31.
Little River intercepted a Pickens pass on the next play for the third PBHS turnover of the half. The Little River drive began late in the first quarter and ended in the second quarter with a Redskin score from the 3-yard line. The conversion pass was on target and Little River led 14-0 with 9:06 left in the half.
Jan Liska took the kickoff on the next series to set up the offense at midfield. One completion on the drive to Morris moved the ball into Redskin territory, but the Warriors could not convert on fourth down at the Little River 31.
Larsen, Gard, Kyle, Seth Topham, Morris and Liska recorded tackles on the ensuing Little River drive, but the defensive plays did not keep the Redskins from another score in the quarter. The Redskins led 20-0 with 4:55 left in the second.
Pickens kept the next PBHS drive alive with a 46-yard completion to Morris at the goal line. Pickens scored on a 1-yard run up the middle. The conversion pass failed but PBHS was on the board with 2:52 left in the half.
The last Little River drive of the half covered 42 yards but ended at the Warrior 13. PBHS trailed 20-6 at the break.
The Warriors kicked off in the second half and Liska tackled the return man. That stop, coupled with a Redskin block in the back penalty, pinned the opponent at its own 5-yard line. A pitch from the Little River quarterback was dropped and Larsen recovered the fumble.
A first-down run by Pickens moved the ball to the Little River 3-yard line. On second-and-goal, Pickens punched the ball through the middle for the score. Pickens also ran in for the conversion. PBHS cut the margin to 20-14 just two minutes into the third quarter.
Kyle and Miller stopped the ensuing kickoff at the Redskin 4-yard line. Tough defense from Morris, Gard, Pickens, Jabary, Larsen and Kyle kept the Little River squad on its end of the field and forced a punt.
A first-down catch by Gard gave the team second-and-inches at the 40-yard line. Pickens moved the chains with a 12-yard run. A catch by Morris set up the team at first-and-goal from the 8. Pickens scored on a 3-yard run into the right side of the end zone. The conversion pass was dropped but the Warriors tied the game at 20 with 4:42 left in the third period.
Little River scored on the next drive that started at their own 20-yard line. The first-and-goal touchdown from the 4-yard-line made the score 26-20. Morris stopped the conversion.
Two possessions later, Liska recovered a Redskin fumble to set up the Warrior offense at the Little River 14. A first-down pass fell incomplete. Pickens gained 8 yards on the next two downs, After a PBHS timeout, Pickens tied the contest on a fourth-and-goal run. The conversion pass was incomplete but it was all even, 26-26, early in the fourth.
The Little River offense put together one more drive that went from their own 11 to the Warrior 11. The 5-minute series ended with a score on third-and-1. The conversion run through the middle scored two. PBHS trailed 34-26 with 4:32 left in the game.
Morris took the kickoff to the Warrior 27-yard line. Gard caught a first-down pass for 3 yards but the next two passes fell incomplete. After a time out, Morris earned a first down with a 28-yard catch on fourth-and-7 at the Warrior 30. A penalty and two missed passes brought up third-and-15 at the Redskin 28. Pickens ran the ball up the middle of the field to the end zone for the long touchdown run. A holding penalty on the first conversion run moved the second attempt back 10 yards. The tying conversion pass fell short. With 2:27 on the clock, PBHS trailed by two 34-32.
Despite tackles from Miller, Liska, Jabary, Morris and Pickens, Little River held the ball to the end of the contest.
“Mistakes made the difference in this one,” Coach David Pickens said. “This was a tremendous effort by these players. The team could have given up considering they were down 20 points in the first half but they didn’t. They fought back. Now we move on and prepare for a next road challenge at Burlingame.”
Pickens went 12-for-30 on passes for 166 yards. Morris had six catches for 123 yards. Gard caught seven balls for 31 yards. Kyle had two catches for 12 yards.
Pickens had 21 rushes for 115 yards and 5 touchdowns. Kyle had 3 carries for 4 yards.
Morris led the squad with 13 tackles. Gard and Kyle recorded 12 each. Pickens had 11 and Miller had 10. Larsen recorded 8, Liska 7, Jabary 6 and Topham 5.