By CRAIG HALL
POTEAU—The ship is still afloat for the Pirates.On a senior night Poteau’s seniors will remember a long time, the Pirates used a big second half to keep its playoff hopes alive Thursday night with a 31-23 win over Broken Bow.
The win was Poteau’s first victory over the Savages since a 23-21 win in 2006.
The Pirates were faced with a must-win game if they had any chance of making the playoffs for the first time in two years. Entering Thursday’s game, Poteau was 1-3 in district play and knew a loss to Broken Bow would eliminate the Pirates from the playoffs.
But Poteau came from behind in the second half to score 19 straight points over the third and fourth quarter to build a 31-15 lead and hold off a late charge by the Savages.
Broken Bow cut the lead to 31-23 late in the fourth quarter and had a drive going in the final minute before the Poteau defense, which came up with big plays all night, made another big one. The Savages had reached the Pirates’ 40, but Derek Francis and Kaydon Evans sacked the Broken Bow quarterback and a final pass was incomplete, turning the ball back to Poteau with only a second left.
The Savages scored early in the third quarter to take a 15-12 lead. Poteau struggled in the second half last week against Sallisaw, but quickly showed this would not be a repeat performance.
Poteau used a fake punt to pick up a first down on a pass to Tyler Tustin and eventually took the lead for good on a one-yard run by quarterback Wilson Klutts. The PAT failed, leaving the Pirates up 18-15.
The Pirates forced two negative plays on the Savages and then got an interception by Carlos Aguilar, who snagged the pass on the 18 and returned it to the Broken Bow 13.
Poteau was forced back because of a penalty, but faced with third-and-25 from the 27, Klutts scrambled and tossed a pass into the back of the end zone. Jesse Woodson made a one-handed catch and the PAT by Blake Williams gave the Pirates a 25-15 lead.
Broken Bow turned the ball over again at the end of the third quarter on a fumbled punt return. Poteau’s drive appeared to be stopped and the Pirates lined up for a 34-yard field goal.
But the Pirates ran a fake to perfection. Holder Jace Pitchford took the snap, rolled to the right and hit Dylan Stone for a 16-yard touchdown pass. Broken Bow blocked the kick, leaving Poteau ahead, 31-15.
Broken Bow came back to score and convert the two-point conversion to draw with eight points. Poteau failed to move the ball, but held the Savages and took over on downs.
The Pirates were forced to punt again and Broken Bow got the ball back on its own 24 with 2:13 left. The Savages moved to Poteau’s 40 before the big sack stopped the drive and clinched the win.
Poteau took the lead early on a short run by Klutts, but failed on the conversion. Broken Bow got a safety after a bad snap on a punt and the Savages added another touchdown midway through the second quarter to go ahead, 8-6.
The Pirates scored on the ensuing drive, the first of two 27-yard touchdown passes from Klutts to Woodson, for a 12-8 lead.
Poteau, which has had trouble with turnovers this season, intercepted three passes and recovered two fumbles to aid the big win.
Klutts finished 13-33 passing, but had 289 yards passing. Add Pitchford’s 16-yard touchdown pass and the Pirates threw for 305 yards. Pitchford had four catches for 121 yards while Woodson had two touchdown receptions.
The Pirates also held Broken Bow to 58 yards rushing and the defensive line did an excellent job in putting pressure on the Savages’ quarterback most of the night.
Poteau improves to 4-4 overall and 2-3 in district play. Broken Bow is 5-3 and 3-2.