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Warriors can’t overcome slow start

Second-half surge holds promise for future

News editor

A strong second half wasn’t enough for the Peabody-Burns football team to overcome an early 14-0 deficit Friday against Rural Vista, but the Warriors had plenty to be encouraged about in a 40-26 loss.

Peabody-Burns opened impressively by using a steady dose of Jess Philpott runs to move from its own 36-yard line to the Rural Vista 13, where an interception abruptly ended the drive.

The Heat drove the length of the field, breaking on top 6-0 when 240-pound running back Eli Fleming barreled 13 yards through Warriors defenders for the score. Rural Vista scored again after a Peabody-Burns four-and-out, driving 57 yards in 11 plays, and a two-point conversion made the lead 14-0.

The Peabody-Burns offense remained stalled until they got on the board late in the with a 57-yard drive that took just 22 seconds.

Philpott took the ball from quarterback Bryant Young and surprised everyone by lofting a 28-yard strike to receiver Rocco Weertz at the Rural Vista 29. Young rolled right on the next play and found Weertz at the 5, who took it for the score. Philpott’s two-point conversion drew the Warriors within 14-8, and the slugfest was on.

Rural Vista took less than a minute to jab back on a 43-yard scoring pass and two-point conversion.

Peabody-Burns took the hit and fought back with a quick strike of its own. Rolling and scrambling, Young found Weertz twice with passes to get to the Rural Vista 1, and Philpott finished off the 63-second 52-yard drive with a scoring run to make the score 22-14 with just :49 remaining in the half.

The Heat needed just 16 of those seconds to score again. Setting up at their own 29 after the kickoff, receiver Josh Sandow streaked past Warriors defenders and hauled in a 51-yard touchdown pass that put Rural Vista up 28-14 at the half.

A 34-yard Heat touchdown run to open the third quarter had the Warriors staring at a 34-14 deficit. Philpott took the ensuing kickoff back for a touchdown, but the play was nullified by a Peabody-Burns penalty.

The defense stepped up its intensity, forcing Rural Vista into a fourth-and-15 at its own 15. Peabody-Burns defenders smothered the kicker at the 1 after a bad snap, and Young capitalized two players later on a quarterback keeper to pull the Warriors back to within 34-20 with 2:29 left in the third quarter.

Rural Vista was forced to punt on its next series, then coughed up the football on its next possession, with Tyler Entz recovering for the Warriors at the Heat 11.

Two plays later Young was in the end zone again, and with 10:58 remaining in the game Peabody-Burns was back within 8, 34-26.

The Warriors wouldn’t score again, as Fleming tacked on an insurance touchdown to nail down the Heat’s 40-26 win.

“The first half our inexperience and youth showed because we made a lot of mistakes and gave them chances they shouldn’t have had,” coach David Pickens said. “In the second half, I think if we play that way for four quarters, that’s probably a real nail-biter.”

Pickens was encouraged to see his team get tougher and play smarter as the game went on.

“They’re learning, they’re figuring things out,” he said. “We got better as the game went on, we got more aggressive as the game went on. Any time that happens you’ve got something to build on.”

The Warriors take the field Friday at home against Wakefield. The Bombers opened the season with a 68-20 rout of Goessel.

Last modified Sept. 6, 2017

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