Pirates hold on to beat Holden 13-6 for first win of 2021 season
After dropping last week’s season opener to the Pleasant Hill Roosters 43-35, Boonville Pirates football coach Greg Hough called Friday night’s game against the Holden Eagles as gut check time.
Although the Pirates still have some work to do after finishing 1-1 against non-conference opponents, Hough knows the weeks ahead against the likes of Southern Boone, Blair Oaks and California will test his squad to the fullest.
Of course, the Eagles weren’t too bad Friday night while battling the Pirates for 48 minutes. But just like the previous week’s game against Pleasant Hill, which came down to the final minute, Boonville had a little luck come its way while holding on to beat a much improved Holden team 13-6.
Last year, the Pirates dominated the Eagles in every facet of the game for a 74-2 victory.
“It’s been a long seven days for us as coaches,” Hough said. “We knew Holden was much improved and big up front and that made us a little bit nervous because we’re a little undersized defensively at inside linebacker. We feel like those kids can run sideline to sideline but they’re not scared of physicality by no means. I thought our kids showed a lot more heart. Last week when we faced adversity and things got tough, we rolled over and didn’t play very hard. Do I wish the score board looked different? Yes. But a win is a win, especially the first one.”
Hough knows the third game of the season will be just as tough, as the Pirates travel to Ashland to face the Southern Boone Eagles. Although the Eagles fell to Mexico Friday night 32-7 to open the season at 0-2, Southern Boone is 3-0 against Boonville since the Pirates joined the Tri-County Conference in 2018.
And if that wasn’t tough enough, Boonville will face the Class 3 defending state champions, Blair Oaks Falcons, in Week 4 in the Pirates home opener at Gene Reagan field.
Friday’s game was also a reversal of the game against Phill. While the Pirates out-gained the Roosters, Phill came away with the win on the score board. However, in the game at Holden, the Eagles out-gained Boonville 187-185 but lost 13-6.
Holden also finished the game with eight first downs compared to four for Boonville. And while the Pirates out-gained the Eagles on the ground 115-111, they had six fewer yards in the air 76-70.
The Pirates will also have to clean it up penalty-wise, as they finished with nine flags for 90 yards compared to four for 30 yards for Holden.
“We just keep facing a lot of challenges,” Hough said. “We kind of bring them on ourselves. Penalties kill us. We lined up offsides defensively three times tonight, and offensively we had two big holding calls and a big roughing the passer call late. We do something decent and then boom bad snap, so we just felt that we really couldn’t get anything going offensively.”
The game also had that same feel as the previous week as Holden came out on the opening kick off with a good run and then drove it all the way down to the Boonville 14 before an interception by senior Luke Green.
The Pirates, meanwhile, punted the ball on their first-three drives and then turned it over on downs on the fourth to closeout the first half.
Boonville and Holden finished the first half tied at 0-0.
As for the second half, Boonville and Holden both went three and out on their first drives. However, after taking over at their own 25 after a Holden punt with 8:00 left in the third quarter, senior DaWan Lomax put the Pirates up for good on a 75 yard run to make it 7-0.
With 175 yards on the ground last week, Lomax added another 110 and one touchdown Friday night to lead all rushers for the second week in a row.
Hough talked about effort from Week 1 to Week 2. He said he didn’t feel like the players battled in the season opener against Pleasant Hill but saw more effort and heart in the win against Holden. “I think our kids learned some lessons over the last couple of days,” Hough said. “We’ve got to have every kid on our team play at a high level for us to be successful.”
The Pirates showed that effort and heart after Holden took the ensuing kick off after the Boonville score to cut the lead to one at 7-6. Although the Eagles had to go only 50 yards to get the score, the 31 yard pass from quarterback Aiden Morarity to Garrett Smith was kind of a wake up call to Boonville’s defense-who had played surprisingly well up until that point.
The Pirates next drive, meanwhile, had a little bit of everything from a personal foul call by Holden to a Boonville fumble and back to back interceptions. Luke Green picked off his second interception of the game at the Eagles 36. Three plays later after moving the ball to the 27, junior quarterback Colby Caton found senior receiver D.J. Wesolak across the middle for a touchdown to extend the lead to 13-6 with 11:48 left in the game.
As it turned out, the 11 minutes and 48 seconds seemed like an eternity. But imagine how the players and coaches felt after the Eagles picked up a first down on a pass and then had another 15 yards tacked on due to a roughing the passer call. At that time only four minutes and 12 seconds remained with the ball resting on the Boonville 32. However, on the ninth play of the drive, the Pirates’ defense held on fourth and 10. Boonville took over on downs after that with 1:35 left and lined up in victory formation to closeout the rest of the game.
Offensively for Boonville, Caton completed 5 of 12 passes for 70 yards and one touchdown. Wesolak had two receptions for 54 yards and one score, while Lomax hauled in one pass for 9 yards, and Jackson Johns one for 6 yards.
On defense, sophomore linebacker Xavier Flippin led the Pirates with 17 tackles, one tackle for loss and one sack. D.J. Wesolak finished the game with 11 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss and one sack, while Travis Dell added nine tackles and one tackle for loss, Nash Mckenzie nine tackles and one half sack, Jamesian McKee six tackles, one tackle for loss and one half sack, Tyson Ellison five tackles, two tackles for loss and one sack, Connor Acton four tackles, Abram Taylor three tackles and one half sack, Ethan Watson two tackles and one half sack, DaWan Lomax two tackles, Luke Green one tackle and two interceptions, Colby Caton one tackle and one half sack, and Will Stock and Eli Stock each with one tackle.
For Holden, 1-1, Reco Jenkins finished with 19 carries for 54 yards. Danny Hartzler had eight for 42 yards, while Jayden Davis-Hacker added six for 15 yards.
Morarity completed 6 of 15 passes for 76 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. Smith hauled in four receptions for 71 yards and one score.