LOCUST GROVE, OK —
A 17-hour delay wasn't going to stop the Locust Grove Pirates from moving on to the 3A state quarterfinals.
The Pirates improved to 12-0 with a 30-8 win over Berryhill at Leonard Yarborough Stadium Saturday despite a severe weather postponement.
"Kids just executed," LG head coach Matt Hennesy said. "It wasn't anything special, coaching-wise. It was all just the kids playing hard."
Locust Grove will advance to play Plainview in the 3A state quarterfinals next week.
Sophomore quarterback Mason Fine threw for 278 yards and a pair of scores to lead Locust Grove. Jason Pirtle caught seven of Fine's passes for 166 yards and the opening score of the game, a 26-yarder that gave the Pirates an 8-0 cushion.
Fine hooked up with Trevor Taylor in the second quarter for a three-yard score. The Pirates could have added more heading into the locker room, but Fine was called for intentional grounding on a second-and-goal from the Berryhill 4 with under a minute to go before the break.
Although Fine was out of the pocket and the ball went out of the back of the end zone, the flag pushed Locust Grove back to the Berryhill 24. Fine threw his only pick of the game on the ensuing fourth down.
It was one of seven fourth down attempts in the first half for Locust Grove, of which they converted five.
"We play aggressive. They gave us four downs for a reason," Hennesy said. "We're going to use them all."
Fine scored on a pair of one-yard touchdown runs in the second half to put the Pirates up 30-0 before the Chiefs (9-3) finally got on the board with a 52-yard touchdown pass from Ty Walker to Jeremy Smith with 6:04 to play.
Pirtle authored a pair of interceptions in addition to leading the Pirates in receiving. Senior Cameron McIntire racked up a pair of fumble recoveries and picked off Walker on the last play of the game. Locust Grove forced five turnovers and coughed up two.
"We've given up some points, but we always get turnovers," Hennesy said. "It's big for us."
Giving up points hasn't been an issue lately for the Legion of Doom. The eight points are tied for the third-fewest the Pirates have given up all season (Week 1 vs. Salina). The LG defense has stiffened after allowing an average of 36.8 points in its last four regular season games and is now allowing just 9.0 through two playoff games.
Berryhill rushed for just 101 yards on 30 carries. Walker and Brad Davis combined to throw for 152 yards on 8-of-19 passing with three picks.
Locust Grove was led on the ground by Vance Wilson's 59 yards on 14 carries, including 54 in the second half.
Cory Rohde, who missed the last two games with a knee injury, picked up 15 first-half yards but didn't accrue any stats in the second. McIntire (seven receptions, 68 yards) and Taylor (three catches, 19 yards, one touchdown) also had solid games.
The Pirates may have gotten some help from a player who didn't get the chance to see the field all year: Kale Davidson, a lineman who was killed in a car accident in April.
"We truly believe we're playing 12 every play," Hennesy said.
Fine punted twice for a whopping 63.5 yard average. His second kick rolled all the way to the half-yard line.
"Big Kale up above, he made it go all the way to the inch line," Fine said. "Gotta give him credit."
"When that ball was carried down to the one, Kale picked it up and carried it down there and laid it right there," Hennesy added. "We believe he's out there with us."
After several years without a playoff appearance, the 2013 team has energized the Locust Grove community.
"It's great for this school and this town," Hennesy said. "This program had been so bad for so long, to have this turnaround and see this town get excited, that's what's really fun."
"It means a lot to this team, town, community, coaches, everybody," Fine said. "The community has come together and worked hard, and we're family. One big family."
After the game, Locust Grove players and fans gathered for their ritual Pirate Prayer, in which a large ring is created around a senior leader. Hennesy said the circle was the biggest he's seen since he started coaching in Mayes County.
"Hopefully by Stillwater we'll circle the whole field," Hennesy said.