DRC_Pilot Point Bearcats

\SAGINAW — Pilot Point had waited long enough to win a high school football playoff game.

The Bearcats ended a five-year playoff victory drought Friday night as Javon Bruce and Jacob Pitts combined for 284 yards rushing and the Bearcats defense came up with big stops in the second half to lead Pilot Point to a 27-13 Class 3A Division I Region I bi-district win over Tuscola Jim Ned at Saginaw Chisholm Trail High School.

The win extends Pilot Point’s win streak to seven and sends the Bearcats (10-1) to the area round against either Slayton or Brownfield. The Bearcats, who went undefeated in district play to win the 4-3A Division I title, their first since 2009, gutted it out against a formidable opponent in Jim Ned (7-4), which came out of a very tough District 3-3A.

But with Bruce rushing 23 times for 173 yards and one touchdown, a game-clinching score with 1:15 left, and Pitts adding 15 carries for 111 yards and one touchdown and a safety, the Bearcats rallied from a one-point halftime deficit to outscore Jim Ned 15-0 in the second half.

“Congratulations,” Jim Ned coach Matt Fanning told the Bearcats as both teams huddled together after the game. “You’re a very good team. Good luck down the road.”

The Bearcats kept their composure after several early miscues and a relied on another outstanding effort by the defense. They were also helped by several untimely penalties by Jim Ned in the red zone.

Jim Ned led 13-12 to start the second half and a 35-yard run by Reese Hayes moved the Indians deep into Pilot Point territory.

A holding penalty would end the drive and the Bearcats mounted an 83-yard, five-play drive capped by Pitts’ 42-yard touchdown run that gave Pilot Point its first lead of the game, 20-13, with 8:44 left in the third.

Pitts would be intercepted deep in Jim Ned territory later in the third, but Jim Ned could not capitalize. Pilot Point would do the same early the fourth quarter with Javin Bruce intercepting Jim Ned quarterback Joshua Kelso in the end zone. Kelso would later throw a seven yard TD pass to Austin Martin, only to have the play called back on offensive pass interference.

Jim Ned would threaten again, but on fourth-and-goal from the 17, Kelso threw incomplete and Pilot Point took over with 7:05 left in the fourth. The Bearcats then consumed nearly six minutes on an 11-play, 83-yard drive capped by Bruce’s 7-yard scoring run with 1:15 that sealed the victory.

Each team capitalized on miscues in the first half as Jim Ned built a 13-12 lead at halftime.

Jim Ned went three-and-out on its first possession of the game, but Pilot Point’s Jabari Anderson fumbled after returning the punt 10 yards to the Jim Ned 35. On the next play, Hayes broke around the left side for a 65-yard scoring run, and the Indians were up 7-0 with 8:33 left in the first quarter.

An Indians mistake would set up Pilot Point’s first score late in the first quarter. A Jim Ned drive stalled at midfield and on the punt attempt, the ball sailed over the head of punter Tyler Hussman, who was tackled at the Jim Ned 25. On the next play, Pitts went left of center then bounced around and through the defense for a 25-yard TD run that tied the score, 7-7, with 1:55 left in the first quarter.

Jim Ned took the ensuing possession 67 yards in 13 plays, capped by Xavier Wishert’s five-yard scoring run. That pushed the Indians’ lead to 13-7. Pilot Point blocked the extra point. The ball bounced into the air and Pitts caught it and ran the length of the field for a safety that got the Bearcats within 13-9.

Pilot Point took over on its own 32 and on third-and-nine, Pitts threw a 39-yard pass to Javin Bruce to get the ball to the Jim Ned 2. After a 1-yard gain, the Bearcats lost 9 yards on the next two plays and settled for a Haedn Ollis 27-yard field with 4:24 left in the half that cut Jim Ned’s lead to 13-12.

Each team had scoring opportunities derailed by penalties in the first half. Pitts had a 54-yard run to inside the Jim Ned 10 called back because of holding while Jim need had 1-and-10 at the Pilot Point 13 late in the first half, but a holding penalty pushed the Indians back and the Pilot Point defense held.

Pilot Point 27, Jim Ned 13

Jim Ned

7

6

0

0

13

Pilot Point

7

5

8

7

27

JN — Reese Hayes 65 run (Hayeen Humphries kick)

PP — Jacob Pitts 25 run (Haedn Ollis kick)

JN — Xavier Wishert 5 run (kick failed)

PP — Jacob Pitts pat blocked kick return

PP — Haedn Ollis 27 FG

PP — Jacob Pitts 42 run (Max Hollar run)

PP — Javon Bruce 7 run (Haedn Ollis kick)

 

JN

PP

First Downs

17

18

Rushing Yards

43-230

40-295

Passing Yards

122

88

Passing

7-17-1

5-9-1

Punts-Avg

3-31.00

3-38.33

Penalties

7-55

7-49

Fumbles-Lost

2-1

1-1

INDIVIDUAL LEADERS

Rushing — JN: Reese Hayes 20-188, Xavier Wishert 6-26, Joshua Kelso 10-23, Riley Perry 5-14, Zach Henderson 1-5, Tyler Hussman 1--26, PP: Javon Bruce 23-173, Jacob Pitts 15-111, Max Hollar 2-11.

Passing — JN: Joshua Kelso 7-17-1-122, PP: Jacob Pitts 5-9-1-88.

Receiving — JN: Zach Henderson 2-66, Jamin Harwell 2-32, Austin Martin 1-13, Reese Hayes 1-7, Cy Noland 1-4, PP: Javin Bruce 2-57, Max Hollar 2-16, Javon Bruce 1-15.