WHITNEY — Early mistakes helped Kerens stay close early, but the Crawford running game could not be stopped as the Pirates exploded for a 49-14 victory Friday night over the Bobcats in the Class 2A Div. I bi-district playoffs at Wildcat Stadium in Whitney.
The matchup was mainly decided by the Pirates’ ability to effectively run the ball against the Bobcats’ defense while holding Kerens to very little offense all game. Crawford’s methodical drives were able to trim time off the clock and allow the Pirates control over the flow of the game.
Kerens opened the game looking to make an impact, as Bobcats running back Josh Brown returned the opening kick 70-plus yards, setting Kerens up with an easy scoring opportunity. Two plays later the Bobcats relied on Brown again as he broke through the Pirates front line for the first points of the night.
Crawford responded with the same methodical approach it has in every game — pick up yards, take time off the clock and score. The Pirates did just that as quarterback Tanner Merenda helped Crawford respond to Kerens opening TD with a 1-yard quarterback sneak. The Pirates missed the extra point, allowing the Bobcats to hold on to a one-point lead.
Any momentum Kerens had all but diminished on the Bobcats’ next drive as Crawford flooded the backfield with pressure, resulting in a loss of yards on two consecutive plays. The Pirates came up big on the next play as defensive tackle Carter Hooser helped stuff the Bobcats’ offense, forcing a safety and giving Crawford the lead.
Crawford was also bit by the turnover bug as Merenda fumbled late in the first quarter, allowing Kerens defensive back Ryan Priddy to scoop up the fumble and take the ball 90 yards for a touchdown. But this would be the Bobcats’ last score of the night.
The Pirates’ rushing attack took over the game as Crawford running backs Breck Chambers and Garrett Pearson routinely found ways to score. Pearson broke the century mark before halftime with 111 yards rushing and finished the game with 14 carries for 129 yards and a touchdown. Chambers finished the game with 12 carries for 100 yards and three touchdowns.
Crawford opened up the second half receiving the ball and needed only four plays to score as running back Camron Walker strolled in from four yards out to increase the Pirates’ lead. Kerens continued to struggle as its opening drive of the second half ended with a turnover, giving the Pirates fantastic field position which they were unable to capitalize on.
The Bobcats offense couldn’t find much free space against the Crawford defense. Chambers added another score late in the third quarter as the Pirates had the game firmly in hand starting the final quarter. The score remained the same until the buzzer sounded, ending the game.
Crawford will take on the Rivercrest Rebels in the area round of the Class 2A Division I playoffs. Rivercrest advances after a 20-14 win over Collinsville Thursday night.