Pirates use three goal-line stands to clear another hurdle
For the second straight week, a young inexperienced Pirate team showed the poise of a veteran team to come away with a win against a Southwestern A foe.
Friday night in Polson as the offense struggled to find its rhythm, it was the defense that stepped up for the Pirates. They started the scoring with a pick six and forced the Blue Devils to go away empty handed all three times they had the ball inside the 10-yard line to help preserve a 28-7 win.
“It’s says a lot about the kids, the fact that they’re doing some things that with young teams it usually takes a little momentum and a few games to get to that point,” Polson coach Scott Wilson said of the Pirates’ goal-line stands. “Hats off to all those kids, to where their mindset is at this point.”
After the Pirates turned the ball over on their opening possession after failing to convert a fourth-and-goal at the 10, Vince DiGiallonardo got the Pirates on the board by picking off a pass that was tipped by linebacker Jake Skelton and returning it 23 yards to the end zone. DiGiallonardo had a hand in all four Pirate touchdowns, connecting with Sheldon Fisher for a 3-yard TD with about five minutes to play in the half. About four minutes later, a bone-crushing block from Noah Hoffman cleared the way for a 21-yard TD score and in the third quarter he put the game out of reach by bursting up the middle and outrunning all Blue Devil defenders for a 53-yard touchdown.
After DiGiallonardo’s first touchdown, the Blue Devils drove the ball 61 yards and were threatening to tie the game with a first-and-goal at the 4-yard line, but after two incompletions, an illegal motion penalty and a tackle for a loss on third down, the Blue Devils missed a 20-yard field goal.
On their next possession to start the second quarter, the Blue Devils had a third-and-1 on the 3-yard line, but a delay of game penalty pushed them back to the 8. Corvallis QB Logan Connors ran the ball to the goal line, before a crowd of Pirate defenders crashed into him and forced a fumble to keep them scoreless.
The Pirates also stopped a Corvallis drive in the third quarter. With the Blue Devils at the doorstep to make it a one-score game, Pirate defensive end Josiah Clairmont pounced on a loose ball to end the Blue Devils’ last threat of the night.
“We just all stick together and don’t chew each other out and do the best we can,” Clairmont said was the key to Pirates’ goal-line stands. Clairmont had three solo tackles, three assisted tackles and two sacks. The Pirate defense had five sacks and caused four turnovers.
The only blemish for the Pirates’ defense was giving up a 42-yard TD pass with just 35.7 seconds left in the first half.
The Blue Devils focused on shutting down the Pirates’ passing game after their 269-yard aerial attack last week. They doubled Kyle Bagnell and brought pressure from everywhere. After DiGiallonardo threw his third pick of the night, Polson abandoned their passing game all together and ran right over the Blue Devils defense.
The Pirates finished with 326 yards on the ground, averaging 7.24 yards a carry. DiGiallonardo, who went 8 for 18 for 84 yards in the air, led the ground attack finishing with 114 yards on 14 carries. Skelton, the Pirates fullback, carried the ball seven times for 86 yards and Chris Cote finished with 56 yards on nine carries.
The Pirates host Hamilton Friday.
“They’re going to spread you out and they have some real good skill kids and they’re pretty big up front,” Wilson said. “They’re going to be a tough test.”
Polson 28, Corvallis 7
Corvallis 0 7 0 0 –7
Polson7 14 7 0 –28
P - Vince DiGiallonardo 23 interception return (Kyle Bagnell kick)
P - Sheldon Fisher 3 pass from DiGiallonardo (Bagnell kick)
C - Rodee Anderson 42 pass from Logan Connors (Turner Zsupnik kick)
P - DiGiallonardo 21 run (Bagnell kick)
P - DiGiallonardo 53 run (Bagnell kick)