FORT WORTH – If the teams were competing in a beauty pageant at Farrington Field Friday night, they wouldn’t have stood a chance.
But, proving once again that winning in sports does not have to be a thing of beauty, the Granbury Pirates defeated Fort Worth Arlington Heights 31-27 in a football game that Oscar of the Odd Couple would have been proud of.
It was sloppy, but it was still a win – their seventh win, in fact – and it gave them some momentum as they head into the 4A Division I bidistrict playoffs against Crowley (9-1) Friday at Saginaw’s Chisholm Trail High School.
“Our guys will be the first to admit they didn’t play their best game tonight,” said Granbury coach Scotty Pugh. “We knew this was going to be a battle. We came out flat, and we’re happy to get the win.
“That is the key, we DID get the win. But if we play like this against Crowley, we’ll be one and done.”
The Pirates (7-3) finished third in District 7-4A with a 5-2 league mark. Their only district losses were 42-24 against Fort Worth Southwest (8-2, 6-1) at Clark Stadium and 63-0 at home to three-time defending state champion Aledo (9-1, 7-0), just a week before facing Heights.
“When you put it in perspective, us coming off a tough week and losing like we did, facing a Heights team that had nothing to lose, I’m real proud of our guys for finding a way to win tonight,” said Pugh. “I think it showed real character.
“Getting seven wins is huge.”
In posting their seventh win for the first time since 1998 and for only the second time in more than three decades, the Pirates overcame losing four fumbles and committing eight penalties for 70 yards. Their cause was helped by the Yellowjackets (2-8, 2-5) also having four turnovers (three fumbles, one interception) and committing 15 penalties for 142 yards.
Both teams also had standout nights from running backs. Granbury’s Mike Milson had the best game of his career, rushing 17 times for 145 yards and a pair of touchdowns, including a 53-yarder. Heights’ Sammy Webb carried 23 times for 236 yards and three touchdowns (29, 9, 52).
But in the end it was the Granbury defense that gave the Pirates their coveted seventh win. After the Yellowjackets recovered a fumble at the Granbury 44 with five minutes left in the game, they a chance to drive for the go-ahead TD. Heights moved to the 30, but on fourth-and-14 an incomplete pass gave the ball back to the Pirates and they ran out the clock.
Earlier in the quarter, Taylor Petty recovered a Heights fumble in the end zone for what was ultimately the game-winning touchdown with 9:12 to play. It came after the strangest exchange of plays in a Pirate game this season.
The Pirates had a touchdown pass wiped out by an offensive pass interference penalty. On the very next play, Heights was called for defensive pass interference, moving the ball to the Yellowjackets’ 6. Granbury fumbled the ball away, but on its first offensive play, Heights fumbled in the end zone and Petty pounced on the ball.
After it appeared early that Granbury was going to run away, taking a 24-7 lead midway through the third quarter, Heights fought back to within 24-21 on runs of 29 and 9 by Webb. The latter came after another odd exchange, with Granbury’s Daniel Arnett intercepting a pass on the goal line, but the Jackets getting the ball back even closer to the end zone than before when they recovered a fumble.
Pugh said that not only winning, but winning in the fashion they did might actually help the Pirates in the coming week. After all, he said, good teams are the ones that can overcome their mistakes and still get a win.
“It will be a good teaching point, but no way can we make those same mistakes against Crowley,” he said.
The Pirates and Crowley Eagles are certainly no stranger to each other. They shared the same district for several seasons before the UIL’s February realignment separated them.
Both teams responded to their new districts by posting the best regular season in some time. The Eagles went unblemished through 8-4A, averaging over 43 points. The Pirates qualified for the postseason for a third straight season.
“There is no question Crowley is one of the best teams in our area. They handily won that district,” said Pugh. “And (Larry) Cheeks is a top-caliber back, probably the best we’ve seen this year.”
Cheeks finished third among Metroplex runners with 1,533 yards. He also tied for third in scoring with 132 points.
But Cheeks isn’t the only running threat the Eagles pose. Quarterback Matt Marner has rushed for 735 yards and seven touchdowns for an offense that is fourth in the area in rushing yardage (302.1).
In addition, Marter has thrown for 1,249 yards and six touchdowns opposite six interceptions. But Granbury sophomore Ryan Suitt is the higher-ranked quarterback, eighth in the area with 1,569 yards, 12 touchdowns and nine interceptions.
“They have many weapons they can come at you with,” said Pugh. “They are a very dangerous team.”
Before Granbury went to Crowley and won last season, the Eagles were the Pirates’ homecoming foe in back-to-back seasons, winning 8-0 in 2009 and 33-31 in 2010.
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PIRATES 31, YELLOWJACKETS 27
Granbury 14 7 3 7 — 31
Arl. Heights 0 7 7 13 – 27
G – Mike Milson 53 run (Jacob Rose kick)
G – Brandon Fichter 72 pass from Ryan Suitt (Rose kick)
AH – Elijah Pierson 21 pass from Vincent Berrones (Angel Gonzalez kick)
G – Milson 2 run (Rose kick)
G – Rose 27 FG
AH – Sammy Webb 29 run (Gonzalez kick)
AH – Webb 9 run (Gonzalez kick)
G – Taylor Petty fumble recovery in end zone (Rose kick)
AH – Webb 52 run (Gonzalez kick)
First downs 23 19
Rushes-yards 40-236 36-220
Passing yards 167 156
Comp-att-int. 12-22-0 12-28-1
Punts-avg. 3-27-3 3-20.7
Fumbles-lost 4-4 6-3
Penalties-yards 8-70 15-142
Granbury – Mike Milson 17-145, Justice Love 8-37, Daniel Arnett 4-24, Brandon Fichter 4-18, Ryan Suitt 4-9, Andrew Konyha 1-3, Kwaun Shaw 2-0.
Heights – Sammy Webb 23-236, Lenzy Singleton 1-8, Adrian McKenzie 6-7, Vincent Berrones 2-2, team 3-(-33).
Granbury – Suitt 12-22-0, 167 yards.
Heights – Berrones 11-27-1, 153 yards; Webb 1-1-0, 3 yards.
Granbury – Fichter 6-106, Nick Doughty 3-48, Love 2-7, Arnett 1-6.
Heights – Elijah Pierson 5-97, Brennan Bibbs 3-30, Paxton Hicks 2-21, Devon Doggett 2-8.
Granbury tackles – Caleb Bendewald 8, Taylor Petty 7, Brice Ables 7, Evan Sledge 6, Nathan Urbanovsky 6.
Granbury sack – Urbanovsky.
Granbury fumble recoveries – Petty, Urbanovsky, Brandon Lane.
Granbury interception – Arnett.