When it mattered most, the Pine Tree Pirates enforced their will on the Jacksonville Indians.
The end result was Pine Tree scoring on its last five offensive possessions and rolling to a decisive 42-25 victory over Jacksonville here Friday at Pirate Stadium.
The Indians made their mind up Pine Tree was going have to beat them on the ground and not by air.
When the dust settled, Tyler Sheffield had rushed for 177 yards on 25 carries with two scores and D.J. Freeman added 144 yards on 13 touches and 2 touchdowns.
The dynamic duo accounted for all of Pine Tree’s 321 yards on the ground. Freeman still managed a couple touchdowns through the air on four of nine passing for 71 yards.
Gabe Adams was the recipient of a 45-yard TD and J.J. Sparkman had a 19-yard score of his own.
The Pirates built on their one-point halftime lead with a 6-play, 42-yard march that was set up when Jacksonville turned the ball over on downs to start the third quarter.
A steady diet of Sheffield up the middle accounted for five of the six snaps in the push. Brandt Herber, who was a perfect 6 of 6 on point afters, split the posts for a 21-13 lead.
After an unsuccessful fake punt by the Indians, the Pirates were set up at the 26. Five snaps later, Freeman strolled in from three and a 28-13 advantage.
The Indians did a great job of keep away in the first half. But that strategy wouldn’t bode well in the second half.
Tribe QB Patrick Clater made good use of a bust in coverage and found Jaylon Freeney all by his lonesome on a 30-yard TD strike.
This is where the Pirates flexed their muscle. After the Indian score made it 28-19, Pine Tree ripped off four straight runs that moved the chains. Sheffield and Freeman both had 17-yard bursts in the 10-play, 68-yard sojourn. Freeman polished things off with a 4-yard dart on fourth and three.
Jacksonville found the end zone on a 22-yard hook-and-lateral in the fourth from Clater to Bryson Tatum.
No sooner had the Indian band stopped playing its fight song, the Pirates hit paydirt again with Sheffield from seven yards out at 3:33 of regulation.
All that separated the two schools at the break was a missed extra point by Jacksonville after its first score of the evening. Pine Tree held a precarious 14-13 lead at halftime.
The Tribe stopped the Pirates on downs their first offensive possession and took over after Freeman was unable to connect with Adams on fourth and seven.
Using a methodical, grind-it-out approach, Jacksonville moved the necessary 77 yards in 11 snaps and consumed 5:59 of the first period clock.
Clater converted the only Indian third down in the scoring march with a fake jet sweep and 9-yard QB keep.
The Pirates answered in a nanosecond when Freeman made good on a 45-yard screen to Adams that converted a third and eight. Herber made good on the first of his two point afters in the opening half and Pine Tree took a 7-6 lead.
Clater to Chris Carpenter from nine yards out gave Jacksonville back the lead 13-7 with 1:25 to play in the half.
Pine Tree regained the lead for good before the halftime horn sounded as Freeman sparked a 75-yard drive with a 30-yard dash. Sparkman brought in a 19-yard TD pass after a reverse roll left from Freeman. Herber was true and Pine Tree was up for good.
The Pirates (3-0, 4-2) visit Nacogdoches Friday, while Jacksonville (0-3, 1-5) plays host to Marshall.