After a tough season-opening loss on the road at Murphy last week, Pisgah football bounced back with a convincing win at home over Enka.
As the sun set over the mountains west of Canton, the Pisgah faithful filled the stands, eagerly awaiting the booming mill whistle that would signal the kickoff of the Bears’ first home game of 2019. And although Enka drew first blood, Pisgah didn’t disappoint its fans, as the team picked up steam throughout the game to walk away with the 42-7 victory.
Much to the eager fans’ dismay, Pisgah was caught off guard on just the second play of the game, when running back Jackson Smith got around the left side, broke a tackle, picked up a crucial block and went 64 yards for the touchdown. With the extra point, Enka was up 7-0 less than a minute into the game.
“We got outflanked right there,” head coach Brett Chappell said. “We didn’t get aligned correctly. They had a formation we didn’t get lined up right. They caught us out of position ... They had a good running back and he had a good run. He got loose, and we just couldn’t track him down. And then it became a battle. It woke our kids up to knowing what we were facing.”
The next drive, despite good running on a combination of inside and outside rushes by Levi Cagle, Hunter Cseledy and Eric Robinson, Pisgah fumbled on Enka’s 3-yard line and turned the ball over. However, just a couple plays later, Enka gave the ball right back to The Bears, who took back over right where they left off, leading to a 1-yard touchdown run by quarterback Korey Griffith. After a two-point conversion, Pisgah took an 8-7 lead.
After going back and forth for a couple drives, The Bears executed a long drive that wrapped up with Griffith hitting junior Cain Early for a 25-yard touchdown.
Then The Bears kept pouring it on. As the first half dwindled, Griffith led the team on another steady drive that ended when he hit an 18-yard fade on a third and 10 to Ryan Reynolds for another touchdown. Pisgah ended the half up 27-7.
As the Milltown defense held strong drive after drive, The Bears’ offense continued the onslaught throughout the second half. The first two drives both ate time off the clock and ended in touchdowns as both Griffith and Cseledy found pay dirt on 4-yard runs.
Chappell said he was especially pleased with the first drive, which lasted nearly six minutes — a whole eighth of the game.
“Probably the one statement that went beyond the scoreboard was … that six-minute drive to start the second half set the tone,” he said. “That’s what we’ve been waiting to see from our offense. I feel like we did a good job on the play calling. We distributed it really well tonight and kept them off-balance. But that six-minute drive, I’m very pleased with that.”
Griffith noticeably gained confidence as those two drives progressed, and on the second drive, he hit a beautifully thrown pass deep down the middle to speedster Jaxon Jarrell that went for 47 yards. After going just 3 for 10 in the first half, Griffith went 5 for 6 in the second and finished with 157 yards and three touchdowns. In addition, he carried the ball seven times for 22 yards and two touchdowns.
While Chappell was happy to talk about how well Griffith played, he was quick to mention the guys around him who made the offense’s success possible.
“The big thing for Korey’s confidence, too, was the blocking up front,” he said, “Our line did a really good job up front. Our back, Cseledy, who was in there helping out, did a good job. Our receivers did a good job once they got the ball in their hands. We feel like we’ve got some explosive players, we just have to get it to them.”
Cseledy also finished with 15 rushes for 79 yards and one touchdown. And by the end of the game, it wasn’t only the offense that showed its merit. The defense held Enka quarterback Logan Sanders, who was constantly under pressure, to just 3 for 12 for 10 yards.
Griffith still had more in the tank in the final 12 minutes. On the very first play of the fourth quarter, the junior hit a wide open Keegan Hudson for a 26-yard touchdown. After a missed extra point, Pisgah took a 42-7 lead, and that would be the score at the end of the game.
Early on, running back Levi Cagle suffered a left ankle injury, but it is unclear how serious it is and whether he’ll be on track to play next week.
Chappell said he was happy with the overall improvements made since last week’s game at the defending 1A champs, a game that he said was made tougher because of missed opportunities.
“We had some things we needed to clean up, not only players, but coaches as well,” he said. “There were some things that we saw that we needed to do and get better at. I think we came in with a good game plan. Our guys executed it. We had some situations where we had to put some different kids in different positions and I thought they did the best they could with it. Really proud of our offense the way we rebounded.”
Now Pisgah prepares for the week everyone has been waiting for, as the team will make the short trip to Tuscola to play in the annual county clash.