From the opening kick-off, Warrior football seemed like business as usual Friday. The seven-play, three-minute drive looked as though the 2-0 team would cruise to a victory. Quarterback Braxton Kyle orchestrated the series, which began on the Warriors 24, and included runs by Brooks Hodges and Clayton Philpott. On third-and-17, Kyle connected with Kevin Baatrup who headed for the end zone for the first score of the contest. The 53-yard run was followed by a keeper from Kyle for the two-point conversion. PBHS was up 8-0 with 9 minutes, 11 seconds on the clock but then things got much harder for the team.
Despite four more Warriors offensive series in the first half, there would be no more trips to the end zone for Peabody-Burns.
Little River’s offense, however, found the end zone with a short third-and-goal run from the 2-yard line with 25 seconds left in the half. Peabody-Burns held on the conversion attempt, but the PBHS lead was trimmed to two just before the break.
“Sometimes you win ugly,” head coach David Pickens said. “We had chances for more points in the first half but things happened that kept us out. One score was called back because of a flag and then we could not punch it in. We had several flags that are completely on me. Dead ball flags are a coaching mistake. We will be working on that.”
The home team’s troubles continued in the third quarter. One series ended in a fumble. The Warriors turned over the ball on a Redskins sack on another series. Even a punt return became a flurry of yellow flags.
The fourth quarter began with an interception of a Warriors pass.
Despite all of the offensive woes, however, PBHS kept making plays on defense and halting Little River. They forced three punts and did not allow any points in the third.
With three minutes off the clock in the final quarter, PBHS put together a drive that began at the Warriors 15-yard line. Philpott and Kyle had carries on the drive that covered the length of the field. On first-and-goal at the Little River 8, Kyle improvised on a broken play and headed for the end zone. He added the conversion on a keeper. PBHS was up 16-6 with 8:02 left in the fourth.
“The play blew up and I had to do something. One guy had my leg but I got out of it and ran for the score,” said quarterback Kyle. “Tonight was crazy. We really had to play as a team, a brotherhood.”
The Redskins weren’t finished, though, and got a score to close the gap to 16-12. The touchdown came on a pass play with 6:20 left on the clock.
PBHS then put together a final drive that started at its own 15. Philpott and Kyle combined with runs on a 14-play drive that ended with 6-yard run from Philpott for the score. The conversion failed but the drive that gave the Warriors the 22-12 lead consumed almost six minutes and left just a minute and a half in the contest.
One big catch on first down moved the Little River offense to the PBHS 23. The Redskins had four incomplete pass attempts and turned the ball over on downs. With one minute left in the game, PBHS ran out the clock for the win.
“Our team figured out their blocking scheme and we started getting to their backs,” Pickens said. “Shutting down the run was crucial to the win. When our defense took control, our offense felt the energy and picked up their game. Little River is a good football team. This was a big win for us.”
Up next for the Warriors is a trip to Solomon.
Kyle was 4-for-8 in the passing game for 87 yards and one touchdown, and added 18 carries for 112 yard and 1 score on the ground. Philpott had 22 runs for 156 yard and one score. Baatrup led the defense with seven tackles and one interception.