WICHITA FALLS – Last season the Wichita Falls Coyotes celebrated a victory just twice.
One of those was in Granbury in a season-opening 24-10 upset of the Pirates.
Granbury returned the favor Thursday, winning 27-13 at Memorial Stadium and handing the Coyotes their ninth consecutive loss.
Pirate quarterback Ryan Suitt, a junior, overcame a slow start to finish 11-for-17 for 188 yards with a pair of touchdowns and an interception. He also rushed 12 times for 66 yards and a score.
“After we got through our first-game jitters, we settled down,” said Suitt. “We feel the only people who can beat us is ourselves.”
And once the Pirates got their composure that wasn’t going to happen Thursday.
The Coyotes struck first on the first of two touchdown runs by quarterback Eric Butler, 9 and 2 yards. The latter would tie the game at 13 midway through the second quarter.
Suitt found junior Jacob Rose from 20 yards out to tie the contest at 7 with 5:03 left in the first quarter. He followed with a 5-yard touchdown run on the next possession for a 13-7 lead, both drives taking only three plays to cover 48 and 41 yards.
Junior Malik Allen, a move-in from Trimble Tech, gave the Pirates the lead for good, 19-13, with a 3-yard touchdown run with 3:18 left in the first half.
Allen displayed his 4.7 speed, finishing the game with 54 yards on a dozen carries.
“He made some good, tough runs. He’s got speed, but he’s also physical,” said Granbury head coach Scotty Pugh.
“And I thought they (Allen and fellow running back Peyton Gilmore) did a good job of protection.”
Suitt and junior Nick Doughty gave the Pirates a two-touchdown cushion when they combined for a 10-yard touchdown pass with 3:57 left in the third quarter. Suitt then ran in a two-point conversion.
“I love getting Nick TDs,” said Suitt. “That’s my boy. We can be very good together.”
Indeed. The combination was good enough to earn both All-District 7-4A honors as sophomores, including Suitt being named the district’s offensive newcomer of the year.
Doughty, the Pirates’ leading receiver last season, was also the top pass catcher Thursday with three for 55 yards.
Suitt, after misfiring on his first three passes, connected on seven of his next eight. These included a 32-yarder to senior Austin Stufflebean, a 34-yarder to Doughty, the TD to Rose and a 60-yarder to junior Brendan King that set up Allen’s TD run.
In all, Suitt distributed his passes to six receivers.
“He did a great job of spreading it around,” said Pugh of Suitt. “It makes it fun when a lot of guys get to touch the football.”
The Granbury defense had its share of highlights. Junior Taylor Petty had an interception late in the first half. Also, they capitalized on a bad snap on a Wichita Falls punt attempt to sack the punter for a 12-yard loss, setting the Pirates up at the Coyotes’ 40.
That led to the final touchdown.
“I’m proud of our defense. They (Wichita Falls) have some very talented players on offense,” said Pugh.
The Pirates also put steady pressure on Butler, creating a blocking breakdown and forcing him to make several hurried throws.
“Our defense had some really good stands,” said Pugh.
Senior return man Kevin Hennard provided some of the night’s biggest highlights. He returned three punts for 100 yards and a kickoff for 28.
His night included a 50-yard punt return that gave the Pirates the ball at the Wichita Falls 48, leading to their first touchdown. He later had all but 22 yards of what would have been a 71-yard punt return for a touchdown wiped out by a penalty.
“Hennard is a stud athlete,” said Suitt. “I just love watching that guy play.
“He’s got speed, he’s smart. I wish we had 20 like him.”
For an opening game, both teams did a good job of holding onto the ball, committing just the one interception each. The Pirates never fumbled, and the Coyotes had two bobbles, but recovered their own each time.
Penalties was, however, was one area in which both teams clearly showed signs of it being the first game. They combined for 28, with the Coyotes committing 17 for 133 yards and the Pirates being flagged 11 times for 90 yards.
“I think the positive thing is we limited the silly (major) penalties,” said Pugh. “It got pretty chippy, and our guys did a good job of keeping their composure.”
As for the game’s slow start, Pugh gave a lot of credit to the Coyotes, whom he said are a good team in spite of their losing streak. Their speed and athleticism was evident in the blocking of two extra points, something the Pirates never experienced last season when Rose was 40-for-40 on PATs and 5-for-5 on field goals.
“They have some very talented, very athletic, very physical players,” said Pugh. “The good thing is we started slow, but kept our composure.
“The bottom line is we are 1-0 with a road victory, and anytime you are 1-0, it’s a great thing.”
The Pirates now turn their attention to Fort Worth North Side and Granbury’s first home game Friday. It will be on the new synthetic turf on Johnny Perkins Field at Pirate Stadium.
“The kids are excited about it,” Pugh said. “The whole community is excited. It’s going to be a fun night.”
And if it’s anything like last season’s 44-9 win in Fort Worth, it will be even more fun for every member of the team. Every player on the Pirates’ roster saw action.
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PIRATES 27, COYOTES 13
Granbury 13 6 8 0 – 27
Wich. Falls 7 6 0 0 – 13
WF – Eric Butler 9 run (Chance McWhorter kick)
G – Jacob Rose 20 pass from Ryan Suitt (Rose kick)
G – Suitt 5 run (kick blocked)
WF – Butler 2 run (run failed)
G – Malik Allen 3 run (kick blocked)
G – Nick Doughty 10 pass from Suitt (Suitt run)
First downs 15 13
Rushes-yards 25-125 41-184
Passing yards 188 105
Cat.-thr.-int. 11-17-1 9-19-1
Punts-avg. 3-32.0 6-32.7
Fumbles-lost 0-0 2-0
Penalties-yards 11-90 17-133
Granbury – Suitt 12-66, Allen 12-54, Peyton Gilmore 3-5, Doughty 1-0.
Wichita Falls – Robert Williams 21-106, Butler 8-55, Chris Lawry 9-26, Mikal Penn 2-9, McWhorter 1-(-12).
Granbury – Suitt 11-17-1, 188 yards.
Wichita Falls – Butler 9-19-1, 105 yards.
Granbury – Brendan King 1-60, Doughty 3-55, Rose 3-35, Austin Stufflebean 1-32, Skylar Baskin 2-6, Allen 1-0.
Wichita Falls – O.J. Clark 3-35, Demetrius Mazek 1-30, Penn 2-17, Dwight Ross 1-15, Adam Stowe 1-5, Chase Key 1-3.
Granbury – Taylor Petty.
Wichita Falls – Jaydon Martinez.
Kicoff return leader
Granbury – Kevin Hennard 1-28.
Punt return leader
Granbury – Hennard 3-100.
Granbury – 1-9.
Wichita Falls – 1-10.
Granbury – 0-1.
Wichita Falls – 1-3.
Time of possession
Granbury – 21:30.
Wichita Falls – 26:30.