Pilots Outlast Big Reds, 20-17
With Bellaire trailing by six early in the fourth period, the Pilots botched a punt, and had the Big Reds in business at the Pilots 27 yard line. The Big Reds offense drove all the way down to the Pilots four yard line, and just as the Pilot defense had done several times earlier in the game, the defense were able to turn back the Big Reds, with arguably the best defensive stand of the game. Bellaire was forced to kick a 25-yard field goal to trim the Pilots lead to three.
The Pilots, all ready drained by the 96 degree heat and humidity, and losing a pair of top defenders due to the heat, rolled the dice after losing ground on their first possession after the punt. The Pilots quarterback Lukas Isaly tossed up a prayer high in the air to wide receiver Drew Dietz who used his 6’5 frame and hauled it in to get the Pilots some breathing room on a 25-yard reception.
The Pilots would then was able to get out of harms way and would go on to take a 20-17 victory in a mutual season opener at Big Red Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
After a scoreless first quarter, the Pilots Isaly hit Dietz in the back of the end-zone on a 19-yard touchdown pass early in the second period to give the Pilots a 6-0 lead. Bellaire topped that a few moments later with a 46-yards pitch and catch, would take its only lead of the game at 7-6 after the PAT.
Later in the second period, Isaly let one loose, and teammate Parker Caretti would shake-off pass interference to make a circus catch and run to the house to give the Pilots a 14-7 lead, after the Isaly two point conversion run at the break.
Bellaire scored the first seven points in the second half to knot things up at 14, on a nifty 10-yard pass play and the point after kick. However, the Pilots would return the pleasure with a long drive, topped off with an Isaly nine yard touchdown scamper to give the visitors a six point lead heading into the final period, after the missed conversion kick.
Mason Ramsay paced the Big Reds with 172 yards passing and two touchdowns, while the team accumulated only 84-yards on the ground on 29 carries.
Isaly led the Pilots with 140-yards passing and a pair of touchdowns, while gaining another 78-yards rushing and a touchdown on the ground. Dietz hauled in two passes for 49-yards and a score, while Caretti grabbed his only reception for 69-yards and a touchdown; Braden Whetsell grabbed two passes for 18-yards, and Dakota Smith hauled in one for four yards. As for rushing yards, Smith added 60-yards on the ground on 12 carries, while Caretti netted 11, Whetsell nine, and Drew Wagnild one yard.
Big Red moved the chains one more time than the Pilots with 14 first downs, and doubled up the Pilots in penalties with six for 60 lost yards, and River, three for 25 lost yards.