WENDELL — Corinth Holders
roared to a 37-7 triumph in the Two Rivers 3A opener for both teams.
The victory improved the Pirates overall record to 6-1, while the Eagles departed 2-5.
The Pirates broke the game open with a trio of third-quarter touchdowns, taking advantage of short fields afforded by the Corinth Holdersdefense.
After stopping the Eagles on downs to start the second half, Corinth Holders marched 46 yards in seven plays culminating the drive on a 14-yard Cole Sakowski completion to Hampton Smith for a 13-7 lead, one oftwo scoring connections between the duo in the period.
The Pirates defense rose up at the outset of the second half, when the Eagles gambled on fourth and one from their own 38, throwing Darius Walston for a nine-yard loss, giving Corinth Holders the ball at Western Harnett 29-yard-line.
It took only one play for the Pirates to make the Eagles pay for their gamble, with Sakowski connecting with Smith on a 29-yard bomb, and Matt Good ran the two-point conversion in for a 21-7 cushion and command of the game for the Pirates.
"In the second half, we stopped making the mistakes we made in the first half," said Pirates coach Barry Honeycutt. "We scored a lot of points, but it was the defense. They went out and stopped them (Eagles) several times on fourth down."
Honeycutt said the defense did its job, setting up the offense with the short fields.
Corinth Holders’ defense gave the offense the ball in great field position on Western Harnett's next possession, throwing Laron Gilchrist for a loss of eight yards, stopping the Eagles on downs at their 27.
Two plays later, the Pirates were in the end zone again, courtesy of a 26-yard connection from Sakowski to Tony Kirkwood, followed by a one-yard plunge by Elliot Lindley,
Sakowski completed 19-of-28 passes for 256 yards and three touchdowns. Smith had five catches for 83 yards while Kirkwood had 65 yards on five catches and Tori Carmichael 65 yards and a touchdown on four catches.
Carmichael's scoring reception came on the Pirates' first drive of the night, a three-play, 48-yard drive that culminated with a 31-yard catch and run of Sakowski's first heave of the evening.
But the Eagles answered, with the help of an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after snuffing Alston on fourth down at the 18-yard line.
Western went on to score in 16 plays covering 79 yards to knot the game at 7-7 with 3:23 left in the first quarter.
"Their (Western Harnett's) first drive, we were guilty of a 15-yard penalty that gave them a first down," Honeycutt said. "They shouldn't have been moving the ball on that drive, they should have been punting early."
The Pirates had several scoring opportunities in the first half, but bogged down due to penalties, after driving inside the Eagles’ 25 three times.
Darris Grandberry topped the Pirates' running attack, gaining 55 yards on seven carries, while Carmichael added 42 on five carries.