It was a tale of two halves in Piper on Friday night as the home Pirates unleashed a barrage of points on bitter rival Bonner Springs for a 69-20 victory.
Early on, the contest was hardly as lopsided as the two enemies traded haymaker after haymaker on a near possession-by-possession basis.
The Pirates struck first on a Dalton White zone read keeper to go up 7-0 at the end of the first quarter. Then came the offense.
“We started off hot this season and kind of fell off the path,” senior quarterback Dalton White said afterwards. “We’ve been working really hard to get back to our identity and doing what we do.”
What Piper does is wear down a defense with an explosive rushing attack and they showed glimpses of how good they can be, even without future K-State Wildcat Cooper Beebe in the lineup.
Just under the 5:00 mark before halftime, the Pirates led 21-8 on a pair of electric touchdowns. The first came on the heels of the shifty Ethan Walker, who juked two Braves on his way to a score from just outside the red zone. The second strike landed in the hands of receiver Devon Marshall, a 43-yard play action pass from White up the middle of the field.
Then the momentum shifted, and the Braves took control of the wheel.
Within a span of two minutes, Bonner had cut the deficit to just one point at 21-20 thanks to plays on both sides of the football. Offensively, LindoMar Guzman-Carpio started things off with a 21-yard touchdown reception, breaking tackles on his way over the goal line. A Johnathan Tapia interception on Piper’s next possession would then lead to a Bryce Krone rushing touchdown with just under a minute left before half.
Piper would not let the game slip away so easily though, as the Pirates were aided by a penalty that put them in position for a perfect strategic pass play that saw White rollout to the home sideline and find Marshall again, as the senior tip-toed inside the pylon to send the game to break at 28-20.
“We’re finally starting to hit on cylinders that we need to hit on,” Piper head coach Rick Pollard says. “Our kids have done what they’ve needed to do to get to that point.”
“Dalton’s also a very smooth player and a great athlete as well,” Pollard continued when asked the importance his quarterback made down the stretch. “But he’s a good leader on top of that because, even if something doesn’t happen right, he does a great job lifting our other guys up.”
Maybe it was White or perhaps the entire class of 2019 who sparked Piper’s second half surge, but the leadership clearly clicked into gear out of the gate in the second half because Piper never looked back.
45-seconds into the third quarter, it was White who scrambled around the Braves defense, hitting the visiting hash marks for a 60-yard touchdown scamper to increase the lead to 15 points. Then, after a second interception by junior Brandon Ahart, Piper threw down the throttle and stomped the gas with a LeJames White touchdown that took all of two plays and spanned over 50-yards.
It was far from the last score in the game, but certainly one that sealed the deal.
“I’ve been telling the guys, the school I was at before, we were 4-4 at one point and won the state title,” Pollard finished. “So, we wanted to get this win and start our momentum rolling into the playoffs.”
“We’re coming back, and our coaches have been preaching that we’re not done,” added White. “We can still go deep into November. That’s our goal and that’s what we’re going to strive for.”