The Phoenix Pirates could do nothing wrong early in the game as they flew out to an early lead en route to a convincing 34-12 victory over the Crook County Cowboys in non-conference football action.
"Watching film it wasn't one group, it was all groups that were not executing," Crook County head coach Ryan Cochran said. "We had breakdowns across the board especially in the first half. I don't know if it was nerves or what, but the first half was kind of a meltdown in certain situations. Talking to some kids they were amped up, nerved up and kind of put us out of whack, so that was an execution thing. So that is definitely something we need to work at is executing our jobs."
The Friday evening game was originally scheduled to be played in Phoenix, but was moved to Sutherlin due to heavy smoke in the Phoenix area.
The move didn't seem to faze the Pirates, who amassed 331 total yards of offense.
With most of the yardage coming through the air, the Pirates threw for 244 yards and two touchdowns in the contest.
Things started well enough for the Cowboys, who kicked off to start the game, and quickly forced the Pirates into a punting situation.
A short punt went out of bounds on the Cowboy 38 yard line. However, Crook County was unable to move the ball.
The two teams traded punts, with the Cowboys gaining field position.
When Crook County punted for the second time in the quarter, the Pirates were backed up to their own 10-yard line.
An incomplete pass set up a second and 10.
Phoenix quarterback Javan Gail dropped back to pass and hit Joey Wilson coming across the middle on a short pass.
Two Cowboys hit Wilson, but neither one wrapped him up. Wilson bounced off the would be tacklers and raced 90 yards to the end zone for the first score of the game.
Chase Courtney kicked the extra point and the Pirates led 7-0 with 5:43 remaining in the first half.
Once again, the Cowboys were unable to move the ball and were forced to punt.
Phoenix took over on their own 35-yard line and quickly went to the air again.
However, this time the Cowboys were ready.
Colton Burkhardt reached high in the air and picked off Gail's pass, rushing down the sidelines 48 yards for a touchdown.
After a fake kick, Burkhardt attempted to pass for a two-point conversion, but the ball fell incomplete and the Cowboys trailed 7-6 with 2:27 remaining in the first quarter.
Dylan Knudson returned the ensuing kickoff to the 27-yard line, where the Pirates took over.
A 13-yard pass followed by a Crook County personal foul moved the ball to the Crook County 48-yard line.
A late hit on the sideline gave the Pirates another first down, this time on the Crook County 12-yard line.
Knudson carried the ball to the seven, where time ran out on the first quarter of play.
A series of incomplete passes left the Pirates with a fourth and six.
The ensuing pass was incomplete, but the Cowboys were called for pass interference, giving the Pirates new life. With a fourth and two from the three-yard line, the Pirates ran the ball up the middle with Gail picking up a first down on the one-yard line. One play later, Cori Romig plunged up the middle for a touchdown. Courtney's kick was good and the Pirates led 14-6 early in the second quarter.
Once again the Cowboys, who gained just 26 yards in the first half, were unable to move the ball and were forced to punt.
Burkhardt blasted a 54-yard punt, and Phoenix took over on their own 24-yard line.
After a near interception and a false start penalty, the Pirates were forced to punt and the Cowboys took over on the 33-yard line. However, once again Crook County was unable to get their offense rolling and were forced to punt.
Once again, Burkhardt boomed a long punt, which went out of bounds on the Phoenix 14-yard line.
A 20-yard pass completion gave the Pirate a first down. Two consecutive runs by Romig and Tharon Gail moved the ball all the way to the Crook County 40-yard line.
Javan Gail then scrambled for a first down to the Cowboy 25-yard line. On the next play, Gail dropped back to pass and hit Dalton Samis in the corner of the end zone for a touchdown, giving the Pirates a 20-6 lead.
However, the Crook County defense stiffened, leaving the Pirates with a fourth and 11.
On fourth down, Gail dropped back to pass and hit Courtney in the end zone. Courtney made an acrobatic catch, with just his tip toes coming down in bounds.
Courtney's kick was no good, but with just 25 seconds remaining in the first half, the Pirates had a 20-6 lead.
Crook County ran out the clock to end the half, then received the kick to open the second half.
Dominic Langley returned the kick to the 50-yard line, giving the Cowboys their best field position of the game.
However, the Cowboys were unable to capitalize and were forced to punt.
A low snap on the punt attempt left Burkhardt scrambling. Running to his left, he was able to get the punt off, but the ball went backward, finally going out of bounds on the Crook County three-yard line.
After a series of incomplete passes, the Pirates had the ball fourth and six on the 26-yard line.
Once again Gail dropped back to pass, this time hitting Jonathan Halligan, who went out of bounds on the two-yard line with a first down.
Two plays later, Romig punched the ball in from the one-yard line. Knudson carried the ball across for the two-point conversion and the Pirates led 28-6 with eight minutes remaining in the third period.
Once again, Langley had a good return, taking the ensuing kick to the 31-yard line. This time, the Cowboys did a better job of moving the ball, as they drove all the way to the Phoenix 30-yard line before the drive stalled.
Phoenix took over on downs, but was unable to move the ball as the third quarter ended.
The Cowboys started the fourth quarter with the ball on the 50-yard line and quickly drove down the field, scoring on a two-yard run by Kyle Brady. The two-point conversion attempt failed as the Cowboys trailed 28-12 with 10:02 remaining in the contest.
The Cowboys held and quickly got the ball back. However, a Burkhardt pass was intercepted by Knudson, who returned the ball 70 yards for the final touchdown of the game, giving the Pirates a 34-12 lead.
Crook County was able to move the ball the remainder of the contest, but was unable to find the end zone as Phoenix held on for the win.
The Cowboys gained just 207 yards of total offense in the game including 51yards passing and 146 yards rushing.
Jacob Kasberger led the Cowboy offense with 54 yards on nine carries, while Jacob Kleffner carried the ball five times for 45 yards and Brady had eight carries for 24 yards and a touchdown.
Burkhardt was just 4-18 passing with a pair of interceptions, while Langley caught three passes for 31 yards.
Kasberger led the Cowboys in tackles with four, while Will Combee and Kleffner each added three.
"We played defense good enough to get them to quite a few fourth down situations," Cochran said. "It seemed like quite a few times, especially fourth down, we would give up giant plays. It's not as much what they are doing it's what we are doing. So those opportunities to get them off the field we have to take advantage of that."
The Cowboys, 0-1, are at home on Friday as they take on the Sweet Home Huskies, a 35-6 winner over Hidden Valley last Friday.
Game time is set for 7 p.m.
Crook County 6 0 0 6 — 12
Phoenix 7 13 8 6 — 34
Phoenix — 90 yard pass from Javan Gail to Joey Wilson, Kick good, Chase Courtney
Crook County — Colton Burkhardt 48 yard interception return. Burkhardt pass incomplete
Phoenix — Cori Romig, one-yard run. Courtney kick good.
Phoenix — Gail 25-yard pass to Courntey, kick failed.
Phoenix — Romig one-yard run, Knudson run good
Crook County — Kyle Brady two-yard run, two-point conversion attempt failed
Phoenix — Knudson 70-yard interception return, kick failed