Pisgah football was shut out in its first game of the season, losing a 12-0 defensive slugfest at Murphy.
Staying true to their brands of football, both Murphy and Pisgah opted to run the ball far more than going to the air, and as would be expected, the game was plenty physical. However, it was also clear that both teams had some jitters, with mistakes hampering their offenses throughout the game.
“Any time you have a first game like that and you’ve got two really good football teams going after each other, you’re going to have that,” said head coach Brett Chappell. “I think probably the biggest thing in my mind as we watched, was missed opportunities on our part.”
The first half was largely uneventful, as neither team was able to put together a long drive. While Pisgah had two possessions that looked promising, both were brought to an abrupt halt by fumbles.
Although the Bears were able to consistently win the field position battle in the first two quarters, the Bulldogs entered halftime with lead when, with only about 45 seconds left, running back Devonte Murray broke through the line and got past Pisgah’s safeties for an 82-yard touchdown. After botching the extra point, Murphy entered the half up 6-0.
After stopping Murphy on the opening drive of the third quarter, Pisgah punt returner Devan Dodgin found the end zone on a tremendous runback, but the touchdown was voided by an illegal block in the back, and Pisgah instead started the drive on its own 29.
“Sometimes, when you’re cutting back and making moves, guys will get put in a position where they think they need to make that block, and sometimes you don’t really have to, especially when you have a good athlete jitterbugging around,” Chappell said of the return, adding that he thinks Dodgin and the rest of his special teams played well throughout the night.
After going back and forth for a few drives, with Pisgah facing a third and 8 deep in its own territory, Griffith rolled right, found some time, and hit a wide open Eric Robinson at about midfield, giving Pisgah first and 10 at the Murphy 47. However, two plays later, Griffith was picked off when he threw a bullet right into the middle of the field.
“I thought we had the momentum when we finally got across the 50 and had that big pass, and it came right back,” Chappell said. “We didn’t get lined up right on that play, and that hurt us. It drew one of the defenders over there, and he was sitting right where he shouldn’t have been, but that’s part of football.”
Griffith finished the game completing nine passes on 18 attempts with the one interception.
From there, Murphy was able to rush the ball effectively enough to run the clock down without giving the ball back to the Bears, and even as head Chappell burned his timeouts, Murphy maintained a steady drive that ultimately allowed Murray to again find the end zone, securing the win for the Bulldogs.
Murray racked up 145 yards on 17 carries and two touchdowns.
“I thought their running back did a good job running downhill,” Chappell said. “We thought that matchup was going to be really good up front, and I think you saw that.”
Although The Bears’ offense finished the game with only 158 yards total offense and struggled with penalties and turnovers, Chappell said he was happy with his defense.
“I thought our defense played really well,” Chappell said. “They were really prepared. I think our coaches did a really good job of preparing our guys. [We watched] a lot of game film. Murphy, even though it’s simple what they run, it can be complex with all their motions and movements and trades and things. I thought our guys did a really good job.”
Chappell reiterated that he believed fans got to see two evenly-matched teams Friday night, and the outcome ultimately boiled down to which team took advantage of its opportunities.
“We’ve got to be able to find a good mix between the run and the pass,” he said. “I thought up front, we protected [Griffith] pretty good. We had some open lanes. Again, we played a really good football team. That’s a team that won 15 games last year. They’ll make another good run at it this year I’m sure. There are some things we have to clean up, but I still feel like we have a really good football team. I think we’ll learn from this and move on.”
Pisgah will hit the field again Friday at home against Enka.