Written by SportsDayDFW.com
Football: Indians hold off Pilot Point rally
PILOT POINT -- For at least the past two seasons, Pilot Point has been the powerhouse while Sanger has played the role of scrappy underdog.
This time, though, those roles were reversed -- and it almost played out very badly for the Indians.
Despite nearly giving up a three-touchdown lead late in the fourth quarter, Sanger managed to remain unbeaten on Friday after knocking off Pilot Point 35-28 in its District 9-3A opener at Massey Stadium.
"We knew this one had the potential to be a high-scoring game going into it," Sanger head coach Chuck Galbreath said. "That's how it turned out, but our kids made the plays when it counted to pull out the win. I'm proud of them for that."
Although these teams aren't strangers on the football field, Pilot Point has traditionally been the state powerhouse while Sanger has been the scrappy team looking to pull an upset.
In 2008, Sanger knocked off Pilot Point 8-7 to give the Bearcats their only blemish of what would go on to be a one-loss regular season. In 2009 meanwhile, during Pilot Point's undefeated state title run, Sanger actually led the Bearcats by three at halftime before falling behind and eventually losing 29-10.
"That's been kind of gnawing on us for over a year," Galbreth said. "We had something to prove tonight -- something to finish. I'm proud of our team for the way they came over here and fought to finish." Even during a rebuilding year, though, it's tough to finish off the Bearcats (2-4, 0-1).
Sanger (6-0, 1-0) started the game fast, scoring on two of its first three offensive plays on passes of 72 and 73 yards from quarterback Dane Evans to receiver Nathan Rotter.
Pilot Point bounced back and pulled within a touchdown after a one-yard run by Mason Guthrie, but the Indians looked to be in firm control after scoring again on another 10-yard touchdown pass from Evans to Rotter right before the half.
In the second half, though, Pilot Point just wouldn't go away.
The Bearcats scored midway through the third on a 26-yard pass from quarterback J.P. Price to Austin Balderas, but seemed to be done for good after giving up 14 straight points - including a 61-yard score by Sanger running back Hayden Thomas.
Trailing 35-14, Pilot Point marched down and scored two touchdowns in three minutes -- both coming on passes from Price to Guthrie. Trailing by just a touchdown, Pilot Point kicked deep with two timeouts, but couldn't slow Sanger down enough to save time for a comeback.
"After the first three plays of the game, they had 14 points," Pilot Point head coach Blake Feldt said. "We'll fight to get back in it, and then they'll score on a couple of plays again. It's kind of been the same song and dance all year long. We just have to get better on defense."
The game ended with Sanger taking a knee inside the Pilot Point 10-yard line.
"They're not going to give up," Galbreath said. "Pilot Point is a team that will play you down to the end, and you have to give credit to them. I'm just proud of our kids because they made the big plays when it counted to get the win."
While Galbreath was happy with the win, Feldt continued to bemoan his team's struggles on the defensive side of the ball.
Although there were some positives, including picking off Evans twice and forcing a total of three turnovers, the Bearcats' defense gave up 482 yards of offense on the night, including 322 passing and four touchdowns from Evans.
Sanger also got 104 yards on just nine carries from Thomas.
"We've struggled on the defensive side of the ball all year," Feldt said. "When you're struggling against good football teams, like they are, you're going to have a hard time.
"We've done everything we can think of doing. We've changed schemes, we've changed the way we've taught things -- we're just having a hard time on that side of the ball right now."Pilot Point was led on offense by J.P. Price, who had 295 yards passing and 103 yards rushing in the loss. Balderas, meanwhile had 11 catches for 128 yards while Guthrie had 90 yards on 15 carries.
MARSHALL MOORE can be reached at 940-566-6869. His e-mail address is email@example.com.
Sanger 35, Pilot Point 28
Sanger 14 7 7 7 -- 35
Pilot Point 7 0 7 14 -- 28
S - Nathan Rotter 72 pass from Dane Evans (Gage Hundley kick), 11:47
S - Rotter 73 pass from Evans (Hundley kick), 6:20
PP - Mason Guthrie 1 run (Ruben Martinez kick), 1:04
S --- Rotter 10 pass from Evans (Hundley kick), :24
PP - Austin Balderas 26 pass from J.P. Price (Martinez kick), 5:47
S - Ryan Scott 20 pass from Evans (Hundley kick), 4:30
S - Hayden Thomas 61 run (Hundley kick), 10:52
PP - Guthrie 1 pass from Price (Martinez kick), 6:02
PP - Guthrie 15 pass Price (Martinez kick), 3:43
First downs 16 27
Rushing yards 20-160 37-195
Passing yards 322 295
Total yards 482 390
Passes 13-25-2 27-46-2
Fumbles-lost 1-1 0-0
Punts-avg. 2-36.5 4-29.0
Penalties-yds 8-55 5-52
Rushing: S - Hayden Thomas 9-104, Brock Squier 8-64, Jon Garza 1-4, Team 2-(minus 12). PP - J.P. Price 21-203, Mason Guthrie 15-90, Conner Camacho 1-2.
Passing: S - Dane Evans 13-25-2-322. PP - J.P. Price 27-46-2-295
Receiving: S - Nathan Rotter 4-165, Ryan Scott 4-66, Zane Paddack 3-46, Hayden Thomas 1-31, Hayden Smith 1-14. PP - Austin Balderas 11-128, Mason Guthrie 7-66, Daniel Berry 3-66, Ryan Hagenbucher 1-16, Ricky Campbell 1-5 Willie Davis 1-5 , Clay Laughrey 2-4, Conner Camacho 1-4.