CARSON CITY — The Carson City-Crystal Eagles could only hold off the Pewamo-Westphalia Pirates for so long.
The Pirates (ranked fifth in Division 7) scored two second half touchdowns, while holding the Eagles (ranked eighth in Division 7) scoreless in a 20-14 comeback win on Friday night to win their third consecutive district championship.
“It feels great. Getting a district championship is, obviously a goal we had at the beginning of the season,” Pirates coach Jeremy Miller said. “To move on is the most important part.”
The Eagles (10-1) opened the game with a long scoring drive on their first possession. Quarterback Rhett Pringle capped off a 64-yard drive with a six-yard touchdown run. The drive took more than six minutes off the clock.
“I thought our kids came out with a chip on their shoulder,” Eagles coach Devin Pringle said. “They have been the little brother in this relationship for a long time. We came out swinging. I thought we came out of the gate well.”
Pewamo countered with a touchdown on their first drive of the game, as well, with a 53-yard touchdown run by senior Ross Wolniakowski just two minutes later. A failed two-point conversion attempt kept Carson City with the advantage 7-6.
Carson City punted on its next possession. That’s when the Eagles defense took over forcing turnovers on consecutive Pewamo possessions.
“The turnovers will really kill you, especially against a good football team like that,” Pirates coach Jeremy Miller said. “It’s something we can’t do. We haven’t done a lot of that this year and that was just very disappointing for us to come out and do that.”
The Pirates first turnover, a fumble, resulted in Carson City’s second touchdown. Starting from the Pirates own 44-yard line, the Eagles took more than seven minutes off the clock before Pringle pounded in a touchdown from one-yard out for a 14-6 lead (extra point was good).
Carson City forced its second turnover just two plays later when Dallas O’Green intercepted a pass from Kyle Nurenberg.
The Eagles moved the ball to the 15-yard line. On fourth down, the Eagles attempted a field goal that was missed.
“I will question myself until the start of next season (for not going for the first down instead of attempting the field goal). That was a chance to get up two scores on a great football team in the first half,” Pringle said “When you leave those kind of opportunities on the table that is inevitably going to come back and haunt you.”
Still, Carson City led 14-6 at halftime.
Pewamo-Westphalia came out of the locker room a different team. They scored on the half’s opening drive (two-yard run by Nurenberg) and converted the two-point attempt to tie the game 14-14.
“They are tough. You’re going to fool them and do some things for a while,” Pringle said. “They are well coached, disciplined kids and they are going to figure out some things. You have to chess match back and forth to figure out a way to keep moving the football.”
Carson City could not get the offense rolling in the second half. The Eagles punted twice, turned the ball over on downs twice, the last one ending on the 37-yard line.
Pringle finished the game with 60 yards rushing on 15 carries. Will Beedy added 50 yards on nine carries.
Nurenberg was 5-for-8 for 84 yards. Wolniakowski rushed for 152 yards.
Carson City finished with a school record 10 wins and was the Mid-State Athletic Conference champions.
“I’m extremely proud of these kids. If you got a chance to know them, they’re probably better people than they are football players,” Pringle said. “I’m just heartbroken for my seniors right now.”
Pewamo-Westphalia will travel to Harbor Beach for the regional final next week.