The Pierce County Bears’ high-powered offense was in full throttle and the defensive unit showed improvement during Friday night’s scrimmage against visiting Irwin County.
Senior quarterback Stetson Bennett threw for nearly 300 yards and two scores and directed four scoring drives in the first six possessions as the Bears posted a 28-21 win.
PCHS, coming off a 7-4 campaign a year ago, scored on three of its five first-half possessions with Bennett at the controls. He finished the game completing 19-of-28 passes for 298 yards with touchdown passes to Parker Peagler and Chase Royer.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Bears were victimized by a 57-yard touchdown pass when the defender fell down and a late 21-yard touchdown pass that came off a deflected pass.
“I thought we did a pretty good job on both sides of the ball,” said head coach Sean Pender. “We were able to move the ball against a very good defense. I thought Stetson looked pretty good. We’ve just got to clean up all the penalties (10 for 88 yards).
“Defensively, I felt like we were much-improved. We gave the long pass when the defender fell and the last one was a fluke off the deflection. Overall, I’m pleased with the effort on both sides.”
PCHS, which totaled 405 yards on the night, took the opening drive and promptly moved 70 yards in nine plays, seven through the air. The big play in the series was a 42-yard screen pass to running back Shyhiem Clark to the Irwin County five. Bennett hit Parker Peagler on the next play with Cooper Saussy tacking on the PAT.
Following a quick three-and-out by the Indians, Pierce County marched 62 yards in eight plays with Royer (eight catches, 100 yards) scoring on a six-yard reception. Royer had a 34-yard catch-and-run earlier in the drive. Saussy’s PAT upped the lead to 14-0 with 3:20 remaining in the first period.
Irwin County, which has finished as the Class A public school runner-up each of the past two years, responded with a seven-play, 70-yard drive. The Indians, who gained 302 yards, got their initial score on a 12-yard run by Jeremiah Ashley with Will Schalch adding the PAT cutting the deficit to 14-7.
The Bears were moving early in the second when Bennett had a potential touchdown pass intercepted by a diving Javon Stanley at the Irwin County three.
After the Bears’ defensive unit forced a punt, PCHS drove 54 yards for its final score of the half. The eight-play drive ended with LaFallon Taylor bulling his way in from a yard out. Saussy’s PAT increased the lead to 21-7 with 2:50 left in the half.
Irwin County would close the gap to 21-14 two minutes later when southpaw quarterback Will Stephens hit a streaking and wide open Stanley after the PCHS defender fell down. Schalch added the PAT.
The Bears scored on their first possession of the third quarter with a seven-play, 75-yard drive after getting a defensive stop. Clark (11 carries, 69 yards) capped the drive with a four-yard scamper.
Irwin County got the final touchdown of the three-quarter varsity game scoring with :05.8 on the clock. Hunter Spires pulled in a deflected Stephens pass and lumbered 21 yards for the score with Schalch tacking on the final point.
In the jayvee fourth quarter, Freddy Foster’s three-yard run on the final play of the night and subsequent two-point conversion lifted PCHS to an 8-6 win.
The Indians scored on their last play of their second three-minute possession and missed the two-point conversion.
PCHS answered with a nine-play, 65-yard drive scoring as time expired. Johnny Waters’ 36-yard completion to Cody Clark was the big play in the series.
Pierce County will travel August 19 to Charlton County to close out its pre-season schedule. The Bears will open the season August 26 hosting Bacon County.