LOCUST GROVE, OK —
Cameron McIntire scored twice, the Locust Grove defense held the Salina offense to just one touchdown and the Pirates won their second consecutive Battle of 82 Thursday night by a final count of 29-8.
"It was a pretty good feeling," McIntire, who also had a fumble recovery, said. "I give all the credit to the team, they did all the blocking. And of course Mason [Fine], he threw that perfect throw to me, and that's what got the second touchdown."
Fine, the Pirates sophomore quarterback, made his first start under center Thursday night, tossing for 218 yards and a pair of scores on 20-of-36 passing. Not a bad night for the youngster, especially in the biggest rivalry game in the county.
"He was nervous, you could tell," LGHS head coach Matt Hennesy said. "I thought he threw good balls, and we just had too many drops. We can't have those drops. A lot of those guys [his receivers] haven't played either. You got young cats everywhere.
"I made the comment this week that we might have to burn our timeouts changing diapers."
Seniors and captains stepped up across the board for the Pirates (1-0), beginning with McIntire and Cory Rohde. Two of McIntire's first three touches went for scores, including a 19-yard run on his first carry with 43 seconds to play in the first period and a four-yard strike from Fine to push the Pirate lead to 16-0 midway through the second quarter. Rohde, a fellow senior captain, ran for 91 yards on 15 totes and caught four balls for 53 yards.
Salina (0-1) looked good through the opening possessions, forcing three-and-outs on LG's first two drives and recovering a Fine fumble on the third. After falling behind in the second quarter, senior Damon Gourd broke free for the Wildcats' longest play of the game, a 33-yard scamper. The ball, however, ended up on the turf and in the hands of a Locust Grove defender.
After forcing another three-and-out, the Wildcats finally got on the board, converting a fourth-and-11 from the LG 32 with a 17-yard connection from senior quarterback Cale Backward to Kyle Johnson. Backward scurried into the end zone on the next play for Salina's only score with a minute to play before the half.
"I thought we played pretty good defense ... We knew we were going to give up some things here and there, we just couldn't give up the big ones," Hennesy said. "We kind of lost our intensity right before half, but we fixed that at halftime."
Penalties killed Salina's only other good chance in LG territory after recovering a fumble at the Pirate 35 midway through the first quarter. A pair of holding calls pushed Salina back to the LG 46, and they were forced to punt.
Fine found Calin Witt down the seam for his second TD pass of the game, a 53-yard bomb to push the Pirate lead to 22-8 with 4:32 remaining in the third quarter. LG's Jason Pirtle closed the scoring with an electrifying 46-yard punt return two minutes later.
"Any time you can beat Salina over here, it's a big deal," Hennesy said. "I'm not particularly proud of how we played, execution-wise, but I am proud of the way we competed."
LG held Salina to 253 yards of offense and held Backward to 2-of-12 through the air, including a Brock Taylor interception. Senior Bret Fite racked up 98 yards on 22 carries to lead Salina.
Salina will look to right the ship next Friday with a 7:30 p.m. kickoff at home against Inola. Locust Grove, meanwhile, will entertain Kansas at 7:30 p.m.
"Kansas is a good football team. One of the best we play," Hennesy said. "We'll definitely get a true test next week. It's going to be a barn burner."