BURLESON — It comes as no surprise that the Crawford Pirates played textbook playoff football to survive and advance in the Class 2A Division 1 Region 2 bracket.
Crawford capitalized on turnovers, made key defensive plays in the second half and ran the ball effectively when it needed to the most on the way to a 44-26 victory over Valley View on Friday night at Elk Stadium.
Running back Garrett Dutschmann rushed for 180 yards and scored three times to lead the way for the Pirates (10-2).
Crawford advances to play Bosqueville, a 37-35 winner over Collinsville on Friday, in the third round of the playoffs. Pirates coach Delbert Kelm said Crawford and Bosqueville were still attempting to finalize a playoff site late Friday night.
The Pirates led by multiple scores for most of the contest, but Valley View (10-2) threatened to steal momentum in the fourth quarter.
Eagles quarterback Brady Jackson ran four yards for a touchdown with 10:24 left. Valley View could have made it a one-score game if it converted a two-point conversion.
But the Pirates’ defensive front bowed up to stop Jackson just outside the goal line on the two-point attempt, keeping Crawford’s lead at 36-26.
“You got to feel like some of the momentum had not necessarily shifted but maybe dwindled,” Kelm said. “It was big that our guys answered every time. The defense came up big when they needed to. That’s an explosive football team.”
Then the Pirates running game sealed the deal.
Crawford marched 66 yards, all on the ground, and Dutschmann scampered 10 yards for a touchdown that boosted the Pirates back to an 18-point lead with 5:42 left.
“We put it all on our offensive line,” Kelm said. “We wanted to play a physical brand of football. I thought our offensive line did that real well.”
Crawford scored 21 points off of Valley View turnovers to take a commanding 30-6 lead at halftime.
Pirates defensive lineman Derrick Shaw returned an interception 30 yards for a touchdown on the final play of the first quarter. Dutschmann added the two-point-conversion run to give Crawford a 14-0 lead going into the second quarter.
When Valley View answered with a drive deep into Pirate territory, the Crawford defense stopped the Eagles with another takeaway. Eagles quarterback Brady Jackson fumbled forward at the line of scrimmage on second-and-six from the 22 and Crawford defensive lineman Landry Bruce recovered at his own 15.
The Pirates’ offense responded with an 85-yard touchdown drive.
Crawford successfully drew Valley View off side on a crucial fourth-and-two from the Eagles’ 47. Two plays later, Gage Pearson threw to Charlie Adamick for a 36-yard gain to the Valley View 5.
Pearson capped the long drive with a one-yard touchdown dive to give the Pirates a 22-6 lead with 1:12 left before halftime.
But Crawford wasn’t finished scoring off of Valley View turnovers.
The Eagles fumbled the ensuing kickoff and Adamick recovered at the Valley View 36.
Pearson threw a well-timed backside screen pass to Dutschmann, who turned the catch into a 17-yard touchdown.
“There were a lot of big things, being able to stick that touchdown in on the screen pass right before halftime was huge,” Kelm said.
Crawford fullback Koby Smith scored two-point conversions following the Pirates last two touchdowns of the first half to boost their lead to 24 points at the break.
Valley View outrushed Crawford in the first half, 118-117, but the Pirates’ takeaways and Pearson’s 91 passing yards made the difference in the big gap on the scoreboard.