By Angie Brushwood (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
Ash Grove, MO – The Ash Grove Pirates opened their home season with a 26-14 win over Stockton.
The Pirates took control early, leading 13-0 at the half. But the Stockton Tigers came fought back in the third, following a 13-yard carry by Bryce Lamb (sr.) and a 2-point conversion, narrowing the deficit to 13-8.
The Pirates’ quarterback Kole Steeley (sr.) sat out last week’s game against Pierce City because of a sprained ankle. Despite a still-sore ankle, Steeley rushed for 111 yards and completed six passes totaling 111 yards.
“It still kinda hurt,” said Steeley. “We were really trusting on the defense to get stuff done. We had to all pull it together and we had to win this game. Then the line blocked really good, which let us do all that.”
Sophomore linebacker Jake Thompson was a big part of that Pirates defense.
“I was doing the little things, and it turns out to be the big things,” said Thompson. “It was pretty big to beat Stockton. They’re always a good rivalry. It’s fun to play Friday nights.”
In the fourth quarter, the Pirates’ Jonas Adams finished a 72-yard possession with a 39-yard carry behind the scrimmage to the right field for a touchdown, 19-8.
The Tigers rallied with five minutes left in the game, completing a 41-yard possession made possible by a fumble recovery. Clayton Loyd finished off the drive by rushing for 27 yards for the touchdown, 19-14.
Steeley would seal the Tigers’ fate with 22 seconds on the clock. Steeley carried for 41 of the Pirates’ 56-yard drive and passed to Zeigler for 15. Steeley finished the drive with a 12-yard run for the touchdown, topped off with a field goal by Zeigler, for a Pirates win at 26-14.
Noah Baker deepened the Tigers’ hurt by intercepting a Tigers pass with less than 10 seconds game time.
Ash Grove head coach Ryan Long was glad to have Steeley back on the field.
“He’s still a little banged up, so we were limited on what we could do,” said Long. “The game got close, I went and talked to him and asked him how he was feeling. Of course he was feeling great. I kept the ball in his hands. He’s a senior (and) been a senior leader for us all year long. He’s a fighter. He faced adversity early in the game, got down on himself. But he came back and threw a big pass down here late in the game to keep the drive going. He’s a competitor.”
Both teams were scoreless in the first quarter, but the Pirates got things rolling with a touchdown by Steeley in the second. Steeley passed for a total of 48 yards and rushed for 18 on the 78-yard possession, and Zeigler capped it off with a field goal, 7-0.
The Steeley-Zeigler duo scored for the Pirates again two minutes later with a 48-yard reception pass, giving the Pirates a 13-0 into the half.
The Pirates will face Pleasant Hope next week. Long isn’t ready to stop celebrating this week’s win just yet.
“It’s a great win tonight because it means a lot to these kids. It’s the first home win, and it always means a lot to be a senior and get your first home win,” said Long. “I was looking at this game really hard after last week’s loss. I’m going to enjoy this win a little bit. And once we get this enjoyed, we’ll move on to Pleasant Hope.”
Ash Grove 0 13 0 13 — 26
Stockton 0 0 8 6 — 14
Jonas Adams, 1 touchdown
Kole Steeley (QB), 2 touchdowns
Draven Zeigler, 1 touchdown
Bryce Lamb, 1 touchdown
Clayton Loyd, 1 touchdown