In several ways, one might not be able to tell last Thursday’s 27-13 Granbury football victory at Wichita Falls was a season opener.
For example, junior quarterback Ryan Suitt completed 11 passes to six different receivers. He was looking off defenders and making good recoveries to find receivers who were doing an equally good job of getting open.
“They’ve played together long enough to know where each other are,” said head coach Scotty Pugh.
“It’s nice to know we have that much depth at receiver.”
Pugh also noted the “YAC” stat that has become popular in the passing game. It stands for yards after catch, or how far a receiver is able to run after he makes the catch.
“Coach (Jodie) Scott does a great of getting those guys downfield, and they know the play’s not over when they make the catch,” said Pugh.
“It can make a big difference when you get an extra five or 10 yards – or even more – following a catch.”
In addition, the Pirates almost escaped with no turnovers. Not once did they fumble, and only when Suitt had a fluke interception trying to get rid of the ball and avoid being sacked did they give it up.
“If I’d just taken the sack,” said Suitt, grinning. “But I just didn’t want to go down.”
Pugh said his quarterback is forgiven the momentary lapse. After all, it pales in comparison to his passing for 188 yards and two touchdowns, along with rushing for 66 yards and a score.
“He did a lot of really good things tonight, some great things,” said Pugh, chuckling. “Yeah, he probably should have just gone down, but he’s a battler.”
HENNARD CAUSING EXCITEMENT
Senior kick returner Kevin Hennard opened the season in grand style. He returned three punts for 100 yards and a kickoff for 28 more.
Hennard had a 50-yard punt return to set up the Pirates’ first touchdown. He would have had even more yardage had not all but 22 yards of a 71-yard return for a TD note been negated by a penalty.
“We saw a glimpse of some of the things he can do,” said Pugh. “It shows the kind of athleticism he has.”
ALLEN FITTING IN
Malik Allen, a junior move-in from Trimble Tech, played his first game at running back as a Pirate and had a solid night. He rushed 12 times for 54 yards, including a 3-yard touchdown.
“He’s going to be a great addition to our team,” said Pugh. “He and Peyton (Gilmore) each bring something different to our running game.”
Pugh also praised the blocking of Allen and Gilmore.
“Malik’s awesome,” added Suitt. “He’s not only going to fit in, he’s one of my new best friends.”
Allen is one of several move-ins for the Pirates this season, said Pugh. And he expects each to contribute in the team’s playoff drive.
Joining Allen are junior tackle Mason Jones (6-3, 200) from Buda Hays and sophomore tight end/defensive end Kelen Ellison from Calvary Christian.
“They’re all going to be able to help us,” said Pugh. “We’re very lucky to get them.”
Something else that makes a big difference between being a contender and not are zero and/or negative plays. These are plays in which a team either gains no yardage or loses.
The Pirates forced Wichita Falls into 1 such plays Friday night. Four times the Coyotes were stopped for no gain, and seven times they lost yardage.
Granbury, meanwhile, only had six such plays. Five times the Pirates were stopped for no gain, and just once did they lose yardage – a single yard on a running play.
“Our defense had some really good stands,” said Pugh. “I’m proud of our defense.”
The Pirates also held Wichita Falls to seven plays covering 10 or more yards, the longest being a 41-yard pass play early in the game. Granbury had plays covering 10 or more yards, including a 60-yard pass from Suitt to Brendan King.
Those aren’t counting Hennard’s four long kick returns.
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