Homecoming ended in a big win for the Branson Pirates, who hadn’t seen a win since Sept. 18. A full four quarters led the Pirates to a 48-14 over Willard in front of a home crowd.
The win follows back-to-back losses against two talented programs. Head coach Anthony Hayes said he was pleased with how his team bounced back from those losses.
“I was pleased with how we came out of that,” Hayes said.
He said sometimes it’s hard for teams to bounce back from losses like that and not lose their momentum or enthusiasm.
“For us to have a good bounce back game after those two games, I was really pleased with it,” Hayes said. “I think it shows perseverance.”
The first quarter of Friday night was pretty back and forth. Neither team made it to the end zone on any of their beginning drives. The game would remain scoreless until there was just 1:13 left in the first quarter. That’s when Cristian Berumen carried the ball for the touchdown. His attempt at an extra point was good, and the Pirates had a 7-0 lead to close out the quarter.
It didn’t take quite as long for the Pirates to get things started in the next quarter. Just a minute in, David Hadaller got another touchdown for Branson. The extra point was good, and the Pirates jumped out to a 14-0 lead.
Shortly after, Tristan Pierce intercepted a pass from Willard and brought it in for another Branson touchdown. Just over a minute into the second quarter, the Pirates were out to a 20-0 lead. The Pirates would mainly rely on their defense for the rest of the half as Willard drove the ball closer to their end zone. The Pirates defense was successful, and didn’t allow Willard to score at all in the first half.
The Pirates led 20-0 after the first half.
To start the second, Willard had control of the ball. They were unable to score off their first drive of the half, which got the ball back to Branson. With just over eight minutes left to play in the third quarter, Berumen scored his second touchdown of the game to put Branson up 27-0.
The teams would battle for the next few minutes. With just under five minutes to go in the third, Willard scored their first touchdown of the game. With the extra point good, Willard had put 7 up on the board.
Branson came back and answered with one of their own. Berumen scored his third touchdown of the game with 1:12 to go in the third quarter. His attempt at the extra point was good, and the Pirates led 34-7 to close out the third.
Willard put the first points on the board in the fourth quarter, but it took a few minutes. They still trailed 34-14.
Hayes said the Pirates didn’t let the game get away from them, and that was proved with Berumen’s fourth touchdown of Friday’s game. With just over 5 minutes left to play, he scored the touchdown and the attempt at the extra point was good. The Pirates were up 41-14.
The Pirates would score once more in Friday’s game with the help of a Colby Cogdill interception. The ball found its way into the hands of Hadaller, who brought it into the end zone. With 2:44 to go, it would be the last score of the game.
Hayes commended both the Pirates offense and their defense.
“It felt like we were really building off each other’s momentum on both sides of the ball and finished strong at the end of the game,” Hayes said. “Our kids really put the gas pedal down and finished strong to get a win. Every win in our league is a good one.”
The Pirates are now 3-4 on the season, and the team will hit the road next Friday to face the Joplin Eagles who are also 3-4 on the season after falling to Carthage in Week 7.
Hayes said they’re going to enjoy tonight before watching some footage of Joplin tomorrow.
“They’re a really, really good football program,” Hayes said. “We’re going to have our work cut out for us. But we’re going to have a good week of preparation and focus on us and cleaning up our mistakes so we can play some good football next Friday.”
In other area news, Forsyth beat Strafford 48-34; Hollister fell 23-20 against Logan-Rogersville; and Reeds Spring fell 40-13 against Kearney. Reeds Spring was originally scheduled to play McDonald County, but ended up playing Kearney due to quarantine for McDonald County.