Taking care of business

Bruce Garrett gets around the corner for a big gainer in the second half Friday night in Pittsburg.

8-0 Hawks throttle Pittsburg;

tie best start in school history


PITTSBURG, Texas – Calm, collected, certain.

Challenged early by a solid Pittsburg team battling for first place, the Pleasant Grove Hawks did what is becoming commonplace: They got down to business.

PG’s swarming defense figured out how to shut down a Pitt offense that hung 100 points on its first two district foes, and the Hawk offense got things rolling, finding pay dirt on four of its final five possessions to put away the Pirates, 28-10.

Pleasant Grove (8-0, 3-0), which matched the best start in school history, is now the only unbeaten in District 4A-7 DII. Pittsburg (5-3, 2-1) fell into a tie for second with Gilmer.

“We played a really good football game on the road against a really, really good football team,” said PG coach Josh Gibson. “To handle a team that likes to take its shots with some big-play guys and hold them to just 10 points, that’s a really, really good job.

Pittsbug’s Mark Thomas races to cut off PG’s TJ Cole in the second half. Cole would cut back and score to complete a 46-yard run.

On a frigid October night, Pittsburg’s senior running back Mark Thomas must have felt like he was trapped in a meat locker in an earthquake. Eleven of his 18 rushes netted two yards or less, and three times he was smothered in the backfield by the beefy middle of the Hawk defense.

For the night, the Pirates were held to 114 yards on 37 carries. Still, Pittsburg started fast, mounting drives of 12 and 11 plays that netted just a single field goal. The first drive ended when PG’s Cameron White batted away a third-and-goal fade pass at the flag. A holding penalty and PG’s stingy run defense killed the second drive.

Limited to just three plays in the first quarter while Pitt eked out to a 3-0 lead, PG’s offense came to life late in the second quarter to with an 11-play, 69-yard drive.

Quarterback Ben Harmon and running back TJ Cole got things going with a 17-yard catch-and-run that gave the Hawks a first down at midfield with 5:29 to play in the half. Josh Roberts chipped in 10 yards on a reverse and 12 more on a jet sweep to the left.

Harmon’s rocket to a wide-open Carson Cox crossing from left to right was good for 17 yards and a score that put the Hawks up for good, 7-3, 34 seconds before the half.

The offense kept the momentum going by taking the second-half kickoff and marching 62 yards in eight plays. Bruce Garrett got things going, take a counter to his right and slicing through a hole for 14 yards. On a third-and-five, Harmon and Cox kept the drive alive with as 14-yard hookup.

Garrett took the drive into the red zone with a 14-yard sprint around the left side to the Pirate 16. Two plays later, Cole raced to the left, cut back, broke a tackle and speed into the end zone to give the Hawks and 14-3 lead.

A atalwart PG crowd braves a chilly night Friday.

Pleasant Grove looked like it might break the game open with another drive in the third quarter, but an interception by Thomas, playing safety, gave the Pirates the ball back at their own 3 with 4:27 to play in the third quarter.

Given the opening, Pittsburg mounted its best drive of the night, going 97 yards in eight plays to close the score to 14-10 with 20 seconds left in the quarter. Junior quarterback Jaylon Jimmerson hit Keonte Burns on a pair of wide receiver screens. Both times, the play gained 31 yards.

Thomas closed the drive with his best run of the night, a 21-yard draw up the middle of the Hawk defense for Pittsburg’s only TD.

The Hawks didn’t bat an eye. They covered 65 yards in 20 seconds and two plays, a 19-yard sweep by Garrett and a 46 yard blast up the middle by Cole to reassert a 10-point lead, 21-10, as time expired on the third quarter.

After that, it was just a matter of sealing the coffin.

Outside linebacker Xavier Benson hammered in one nail, leaping high in the air, like an all-district basketball center, to snare an interception with 3:38 left. His return took the ball to the Pirate 24.

Garrett pounded in another nail two plays later, taking a counter to the right, cutting up inside the contain and sprinting to the goal line. Dillon Williams’ point-after was perfect and the lead was 28-10.

Six plays later, Landon Jackson exploded around the edge and swooped down on Pittsburg quarterback Ty Jordan like a steel cape on a bunny rabbit. With time on the clock and three timeouts in his pocket, Pittsburg coach Brad Baca didn’t bother calling another play.

Garrett led all rushers with 131 yards and a TD on 14 carries. Cole added 69 and two scores on six carries. Harmon hit on five of seven passes for 89 yards and a score.

With the running game snuffed out, Pittsburg junior quarterback Jaylon Jimmerson kept his team in the game, hitting on seven of nine passes for 120 yards. Harassed all night, Jimmerson spent the fourth quarter on the bench. His backup, senior Ty Jordan, was zero for six with an interception.

The Hawks next week travel to Spring Hill (5-3, 0-3), loser of three district outings by a net six points. Atlanta (4-4, 1-2), which took over fourth with a 34-16 win in Gladewater (2-6, 1-2), will travel to Gilmer. Pittsburg will host Gladewater.

— Bill Owney

[email protected]

Pleasant Grove            0          7          14        7 – 28

Pittsburg                      3          0          7          0 – 10


Pleasant Grove Pittsburg
15 First downs 13
41-131 Rush-yards 37-114
5-9-1 – 89 PC-PA-I -YDS 7-15-1 – 120
320 Total offense 234
2-0 Fum-lost 1-0
3-40 Penalties-yards 2-25
3-41.3 Punts-avg. 4-39.8


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A veteran journalist and educator, Bill Owney is a 1980 graduate of the University of Florida. Writing awards include APME honors for investigative reporting, the Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Award for public service reporting and numerous awards for editorial, column and news writing. He served as publisher of the Atlanta Citizens Journal and Pittsburg Gazette when each paper won sweepstakes awards from the Texas Press and North and East Texas Press Associations. He spent 15 years as a public school teacher and is an adjunct professor of English at Texarkana College.