PITTSBURG — A week-six matchup against Carl Junction on Friday was an uphill battle for the Pittsburg High School football team, as the Purple Dragons couldn’t find an offensive rhythm against the Bulldogs in the 37-17 loss.
It was a tough game for Chase Johnson and Brett Wiemers to fill in at quarterback for the injured Chase Curtis and Ty Roark, but despite the effort, the Bulldogs’ defense had the upperhand.
“We had a few key players who weren’t able to play tonight, but I thought the kids that were on the field played very well,” PHS head coach Tom Nickelson said. “The quarterbacks were just thrown into a bad situation. That’s one of the toughest defenses you’re ever going to face, so considering your first game against that, I thought they did really well. Chase [Johnson] did a lot of good things in the running game and Brett did a lot of good things in the passing game. They both have their strengths and that’s why we played both, but I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
Although the Bulldogs were in control for a majority of the contest, the Purple Dragons drew first blood to go up 7-0.
After Pittsburg’s defense forced a punt in the opening drive of the contest, Corbin Jefferson returned the punt 35 yards to put the Purple Dragons at the Bulldogs’ 40-yard line.
Jhalani Long took over from there, as he hauled in a 23-yard pass from Johnson and followed it up with a 12-yard run before crossing the goal line from five yards out.
Carl Junction answered on the first play of the next possession, tying the game at 7-all on an 80-yard touchdown run.
The Bulldogs went on to take the lead at 14-7 with less than a minutes remaining in the first quarter on a seven-yard touchdown run.
Pittsburg forced a three-and-out to begin the second quarter, but a near perfect punt pinned the Purple Dragons down at their own one-yard line.
Carl Junction capitalized on the field positioning, as a sack resulted in a safety to increased the Bulldogs’ lead to 16-7 and put the ball back in their hands.
Carl Junction couldn’t put points on the board after taking over at the PHS 40-line following the kick, but went on to find the end zone in the final minute of the second half on a three-yard run to push the score to 23-7.
The game began to slip away from PHS when Carl Junction extended its lead to 30-7 on 19-yard touchdown pass halfway through the third quarter.
A long, 13-play drive by the Purple Dragons — which began in the third quarter and ended in the fourth — was capped off by a 32-yard touchdown pass from Wiemers to Dylan White, bringing PHS to within 31-14.
The Bulldogs got the points right back in the next possession, going 77-yards in eight plays and scoring on a nine-yard touchdown run to go back up by 23 at 37-14.
A 40-yard field goal converted by Nathan Neef with three minutes remaining in the contest decreased the deficit to 37-17, but the Purple Dragons couldn’t recover the onside kick following the score.
The Purple Dragons will host Bonner Springs at 7 p.m. on Friday.
— Jordan Buckamneer is the sports editor of the Pittsburg Morning Sun. E-mail him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @jbuckamneer.