The Independence Patriots picked up their fourth win of the season with a 32-18 away conference victory against Porter Ridge in a key game for the home team who appear to be playoff bound.
The Patriots would strike first with 3:50 remaining in the first quarter. The 78 yard drive began on their own 22 yard line. Brevin Caldwell would pick-up a 12 and 10 yard gain to get things moving in the right direction. Then Arnold Taylor would rush for 10 and 8 yard gainers, Davion Nelson for 7 more yards. On a second down and 10 from the 27 yard line, Taylor would drop back to pass and find Shai Wheeler open in the middle of the field near the goal line for the touchdown putting the Pats up 6-0.
To end the first quarter Braeden Mcalister would connect on a 26 yard field goal for the Pirates to close the gap to 6-3 with Independence holding a slim lead.
In the second quarter an apparent touchdown from Taylor to Wheeler was nullified when one official ruled he bobbled the ball and did not have complete control of the football as he hit the ground. This was a very questionable call, but did not impact the final outcome.
On a pass completion late in the second quarter to Trevor Bryan from Taylor for a nifty 16 yard gain backfired, Bryan was stripped by a defender and the fumble recovery made by the Pirates put them in good field position on the Patriots 37 yard line. As the clock was counting down, a pass to the end zone was intercepted by Shai Wheeler stopping the clock with only two seconds remaining in the first half with the ball now on the 20 yard line. The Patriots took a knee and a slim 6-3 margin into the halftime intermission on Homecoming Night at Porter Ridge.
Porter Ridge took the kick-off and began a drive in good field position from their own 35, however, they would fumble the football recovered by the Patriots on the Porter Ridge 41 yard line. They matriculated the ball down to the 10 yard line, on a first down, QB Taylor would rumble into the end zone for the score increasing the Patriots lead to 13-3.
Then just one minute later on the next possession Omar Zazueta would intercept a Pirates pass on the Patriot 48 yard line giving the visitors good field position again. On the next play, Taylor would shuffle pass to Nelson who located Brian Morgan behind the defense for a 52 yard touchdown pass as the wide receiver turned on the jets racing past defenders on his way into the end zone putting the Patriots up 19-3.
The Pirates on their next possession would counter and score after Nick Horstkemp connected on a 18 yard pass play from QB Mason Cox. Then the Pirates would score on an 18 yard rushing play for a touchdown including a two point conversion making the score 19-11.
On the ensuing kick-off Shai Wheeler the Patriots speedster would catch the kick-off on the ten yard line, cut right, then left, finding an opening and blockers along the sideline break free and scamper into the end zone for a 90 yard kick-off return putting the Pats up again by two touchdowns 26-11 as the PAT was good.
Porter Ridge would not give up and they scored again on a 27 yard pass play from Cox to Myles Carroll, the PAT sailed through the uprights making the score 26-18.
The next big call and play of the game came when the Independence head coach Mike Natoli called a timeout. Taylor the Patriots quarterback would execute a quick kick perfectly from the 47 yard line on a fourth down and 3. The kick pinned the Pirates down on their own 6 yard line with 3:11 remaining in the game instead of going for the first down.
The coach relied on his defense to stop the Pirates who had to put together a 94 yard drive with only 2:59 on the scoreboard clock remaining in the football game. The strategy paid off handsomely when the defense forced a fumble and was recovered by Jeremy Philips who ran it into the end zone for the touchdown giving the Pats a comfortable 32-18 lead with time running out on the Pirates.
The Patriots are now 4-3 on the season, and 2-1 in the Southwestern 4A Conference. They will play their arch rival Butler next Friday night in a huge conference showdown.
Team 1 2 3 4 Total
Patriots 6 0 20 6 32
Pirates 3 0 15 0 18