PITTSBURG — Defense was a big part of the Pittsburg High School football team’s 39-29 win over Bonner Springs on Friday, as the Purple Dragons blanked the Indians in the second half and overcame a four-point deficit deficit to earn the fifth win of the season.
Trailing by 10 with nine minutes remaining in regulation, the Indians took over on their own 19-yard line and drove into the red zone, but missed a field goal to give the ball back to the Purple Dragons.
Pittsburg started the new drive with five minutes remaining and sustained it long enough to drain the clock.
“We were able to score more points thankfully, but it seemed like we were trying to everything we could to get in our own way at times,” PHS head coach Tom Nickelson said. “We wanted to win it for the seniors, but it was disappointing to see a lack of execution on the offensive side. The offense gave them 14 points in the first half, but the defense was pretty good job. We just can’t have the turnovers and dropped passes. We came back in the second half and played better offensively and the defense just played lights out.”
Prior to kick off, Pittsburg took a moment to recognize its seniors on the final home game of the season.
The PHS seniors are Alex Kafka, Landon Conrad, Tye Cicero, Chase Johnson, Chris Wood, Patrick Sullivan, Chase Curtis, Corbin Jefferson, Drew Roelfs, Jhalani Long, Caleb Blansett, Marcus West, Crispin VonWinklepleck, Tatum VonWinklepleck, Reese Willis, Dalton Gromer, Nathan Neef, Daniel Eichenberger, Ethan Tomasi, P.J. Monsour and Zach Kunkler.
“They’re a tremendous class for us,” Nickelson said. “They’re all two or three-sport athletes and do a great job of representing Pittsburg the best way possible. I just wish we could have executed a little bit better for them tonight.”
Pittsburg drew first blood in the opening drive of the series, going up 3-0 at the eight-minute mark of the opening quarter on a 25-yard field goal by Neef.
Bonner Springs took a 7-3 lead one minute later on the strength of a 76-yard touchdown run.
The Purple Dragons responded with an eight-play touchdown drive to regain the lead at 10-7 with five minutes remaining in the first quarter.
The drive was highlighted by a 16-yard run from Long and was capped off by a four-yard touchdown run by Dylan White.
Bonner Springs went up by four with a touchdown in the next drive, but Brandis Evans gave the Purple Dragons a 16-14 lead on the first play of the next possession, scoring on an 80-yard touchdown run.
PHS increased the lead to 22-14 after Curtis connected with White on a 40-yard touchdown pass.
The momentum swung in favor of the Indians in the second quarter, as they scooped up a fumble and took it 45 yards into the end zone before converting the two-point conversion to tie the score at 22-all.
Bonner Springs went on to score one more touchdown, but Pittsburg ended the first half on a 30-yard field goal converted by Neef to cut the PHS deficit to 29-25.
The Purple Dragons came out refocused in the second half and forced the Indians into a three-and-out on the first drive, before scoring on a two-yard touchdown run by Long to take a 31-29 advantage.
Long found the end zone again in the early going of the fourth quarter to score the Purple Dragon’s final touchdown of the contest.
PHS will hit the road to take on Wichita North at 7 p.m. on Friday.
— Jordan Buckamneer is the sports editor of the Pittsburg Morning Sun. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @jbuckamneer.