The Diamond Wildcats picked up their second win this season as they defeated the Pierce City Eagles by a score of 36-14.
After the game, Diamond Head Coach Jimmy DuShane explained his team’s win, "Because they believe in what we're doing, and they went out and done it. It was all them," he said as he pointed to his celebrating players, "it was all them."
The 3-2 Eagles were favored to win, but the tide turned against them early in the first quarter. At 11:11, the Eagles' Garron Cantrell, a two-way starter, was issued a personal foul and ejected. This was the first of three events that changed the outcome.
After a few series, with both teams trying to find their footing, Wildcat Ian Burt plucked Eagle quarterback Kole Kelly's pass and ran 22 yards before he was brought down. The Wildcats took advantage of the interception a few plays later as Brodie Bien crossed the goal for the Wildcats first score, with 2:06 on the clock.
The first play of the ensuing drive, the Eagles ran a reverse and Zack Hyde picked up 62 yards with 1:52 left in the quarter. Diamond's Jordan Divine managed to knock him out of bounds at the one-yard line.
Cedric O'Hara scored two plays later, tying the score 6-6.
Both teams stayed neck and neck through most of the second quarter. The Wildcat's Zach Renfro scored on a short run, and Bien picked up a two-point conversion to pull Diamond ahead, 14-6, with 5:37 on the clock. Pierce City fell on an on-side kick and marched half way to the goal line when O'Hara broke one open and scored on a 25-yard run.
Pierce City picked up the two-point conversion to tie the game with 2:36 left in the half.
Diamond started the next drive on their 20-yard line, but a Bein pass was intercepted at Pierce City's one-yard line with 15 seconds on the clock. To prevent a safety, Pierce City had to move the ball and run the clock down. O'Hara picked up 19 yards on a run, giving the Eagles some breathing room. With time for one more play, Pierce City threw a pass. Diamond's Evan Moreland intercepted the ball and ran 38 yards for a touchdown, with no time on the clock.
This was the second event that turned the tide in favor of Wildcats. The teams went into the locker room with a score of 20-14, Diamond leading.
After their showing in the first half, the Eagles started keying off Bien and Zach Renfro. The Wildcats adjusted and started handing the ball to Remmi Renfro, who stepped in at fullback and paved the way for Bien and his cousin, Zach Renfro. “We played the game with our starting fullback playing defense only after an injury last week,” DuShane said. “Remmi Renfro did a really good job.”
Page 2 of 2 - The third turning point of the night occurred with about five minutes left in the third quarter. Pierce City's O'Hara, also a two-way starter, was injured while making a tackle along the Eagles sideline. He walked off the field but never re-entered the game. O’Hara still managed to rush for over 100 yards, but the Wildcats defense did a good job keeping him out of the end zone.
“I’m overjoyed with (the way they played),” DuShane said of his defense. “(The Eagles) had been averaging over 400 yards rushing and about 90 passing and over 40 points per game. We held them to about 200 yards of total offense and 14 points.
“Defensively, I was really, really pleased with what the kids did.”
But it was the offensive line that made Diamond’s offense go according to DuShane. He said the dominant play of the big men up front is what opened the lanes for the runners to have success.
Both Bein and Zach Renfro would each score a touchdown and a two-point conversion for the Wildcats. Bien, a junior, rushed 23 times for 144 yards and two touchdowns. Zach Renfro, also a junior, carried 23 times for 119 and two scores.
DuShane was thrilled with the victory.
“That’s a big win for the program,” he said. “Give credit to my assistant coaches, they are really, really good at what they do.”
Next week Diamond will face the McAuley Warriors at MSSU. The Eagles will be at home to meet the Miller Cardinals.