BY: TIMES SPORTS
Anytime Powell and Estill meet in any sport, it is going to be a classic game. But on the gridiron it could make or break a team’s season. Add in an important night like Homecoming and the path to the district title clearly in sight, the pressure builds.
Now add in a saturated field and so much mud you cannot see anyones uniform number. How wet was the field? Linemen were washing the mud off their hands in puddles on the field.
Mix all that together and you get one heck of a game last Friday night in Stanton. The close game was blown open late as Powell met the challenge and cruised to a 43-22 victory.
Estill’s defense may have their sights on stopping one of the state’s top rushers in Powell’s Nate Skidmore. They may even have had plans to upend Austin Trent’s influence, with very little success. But if they looked at Powell quarterback Jon Brooks they missed the fact that he can run with the ball.
As Skidmore pushed ahead in the mud against the Engineer defense and Trent picked up some key yards along the sidelines on big runs, Brooks was the key. Brooks called his own number on four touchdown runs, including a 57 yard gallop into the end zone.
Despite the big runs, the game was close until the fourth quarter.
Estill struck first following a 35 minute lightning delay. Justin Stamper scored on a nine yard run at the 3:08 mark. Coben Clem added the two point conversion, as the Engineers led 8-0.
Powell answered quickly. On the Pirates next possession, facing a third down and short situation, Brooks broke loose along the right sideline for a 57 yard TD run. Skidmore added the two point conversion and with 2:24 to play in the first quarter the game was tied, 8-8
The mud made it difficult for both sides as runners slipped and fell trying to make cuts, some could not really get going and the ball seemed to hit the ground a lot. But both teams did manage to find some footing, enough to make the game interesting.
Following a bad Estill snap and a punt Powell took the lead early in the second quarter. With Trent and Skidmore grinding out the yards, the Pirates pushed the ball downfield. Brooks capped off the drive with an eight run, diving across the pylon for the score. Skidmore scored again on the two point try. Powell led 16-8 with 9:48 to play in the half.
Estill was not quite done with their ground attack either. Following a sloppy kickoff after the score Estill tried to drive, but Powell got the ball back. On the first play, Brooks pass was intercepted by Jonovan Miller. Two plays later the Engineers Chris Rigdon ran the ball into the end zone for five yard score. The two point try came up short, but the game was closer at 16-14.
Powell had a chance to extend the lead just before halftime. But they came up short. Powell held the slim 16-14 margin.
In the post-game team talk, Powell Coach Joshua Kincaid told his team, “At halftime I challenged you, and you met the challenge.” Though it was not clear what the challenge was, but if it was to keep battling and protect your home field the Pirates met that challenge. And then some.
But the transition took a little time.
Both teams started the second half a little slow. On Powell’s second possession of the third quarter the Pirates once again drove deep into Engineer territory. As Trent and Skidmore rush the ball and sloshed through the mud to get Powell closer, Brooks capped it off again. This time Brooks scored on a two yard run. But this time the two point failed. Powell held a 22-14 lead.
Estill opened the final frame with the ball and wanting to make a statement. They did just that. Rigdon broke loose for a 24 yard TD run. The Engineer’s workhorse, Stamper, added the two point conversion. The score was now tied at 22-22 with 11:51 to play in the game.
Despite a good effort by the visitors, it was all Powell from there on.
On the ensuing possession the Pirates rushers continued to grind out the yards. Powell capped off a 59 yard, seven play drive when Brooks jumped over the line from the one yard one for his third TD of the night. Skidmore scored again on the two point try. Powell regained the lead at 30-22 with 8:57 to play.
Estill took the kickoff, which for the first time in the game was a deep kick by Powell, and tried to get something started. Powell’s defense held tough and forced a fourth down and three yards to go situation on he 19 yard line. When most teams would punt, Estill decided to go for it with 6:40 to play. Rigdon got the call, but Powell’s Jullian Knowles met him in the backfield. The result was a tackle for a loss and Powell got the ball back on Estill’s 16 yard line.
The call was gutsy, but it was also the game.
Two plays later Skidmore scored on an 11 yard run. Brooks tried a keep for the two point try, but it failed. Powell had some breathing room, leading 36-22.
Estill received another deep kick and tried to make a comeback. They went to the air in hopes of picking up some quick yards. But the Engineers hit a wall and tried another fourth down play. This one also came up short as the half back pass fell incomplete.
Powell got the ball back with 3:25 to play and was hit by a couple of procedure penalties. The calls moved Powell back, but a 40 yard TD run by Brooks put more points on the board. Bryan Baker added the extra point. It was all Powell would need, as they won going away, 43-22.
Brooks had a career night on the ground. The quarterback picked up 153 rushing yards on 12 carries. Trent also had a big evening, as he rushed for 122 yards on eight key carries. Skidmore ran 20 times and picked up 85 yards. Overall the Pirates ground assault rolled up 361 yards on the Engineer defense.
Powell’s defense held Estill to 238 rushing yards.Stamper ran 21 times for 141 of the yards, while Rigdon picked up 62 yards on nine carries. Clem and Ethan Webb each had 14 yards on the ground. In the air the Engineers had 30 yards.
The Pesky Pirates Defense had 76 tackles on the evening, 60 were solo tackles. Preston Wasson had 10 of those tackles, nine were solo take downs. Lance Stevenson had nine tackles, while Justice Harmon, Julian Knowles and Skidmore each had eight takedowns. Knowles also had a sack. Allin all 17 Pirate defenders helped shut down the Engineer offense.
The win gives Powell a 6-1 record, 3-0 in the district. With Breathitt beating Morgan County 31-12 last Friday, the game this week’s matchup in Jackson will decide the district championship. The Bobcats are 5-3 overall and 3-0 in the district.