FORNEY — Reduced to white T-shirt-wearing spectators during Crawford’s Class 2A state championship volleyball win early Friday afternoon, the Crawford football Pirates turned in a championship performance themselves, crushing Honey Grove, 35-18.

The impressive area playoff Friday night win sends Crawford (9-3) to the regional round of the Class 2A playoffs against Valley View next week at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Pennington Field in Bedford.

The playoff game was pushed back 30 minutes to allow Crawford fans time to battle the typically murderous North Texas Friday traffic, but the Pirates certainly weren’t slow in starting once they arrived.

They never punted and scored on all four first-half possessions to establish a big enough lead to send some Honey Grove fans scattering for their cars early on a cold Friday night with a 28-6 halftime lead.

The Warriors (7-5) mounted a second half comeback and had the momentum after stopping Crawford at their own 15-yard line with 6:36 left in the game and trailing 28-16.

But the biggest play of the second half came when senior do-everything-player Tate Abel stepped in front of a Honey Grove pass on second down to end the Warriors drive and give the ball back to the Pirates.

Just six plays later, junior quarterback Tanner Merenda scored from three yards out to clinch the victory and the final 17-point margin.

While Honey Grove was known for big plays, it was Crawford that struck first with a sudden scoring strike. After taking the opening kickoff, the Pirates moved the ball crisply down the field before running back Abel broke loose on a 45-yard scoring run. Ty Torbert kicked the extra point for an early 7-0 lead.

Honey Grove’s Kobe Deloach answered for the Warriors on the next series with a 55-yard touchdown run. But Honey Grove missed the try for two-point conversion. It was the first of three such misses by Honey Grove.

Crawford came right back on offense and unleashed another long run as Trey Lacina broke loose for a 32-yard run down the left sideline to make the score 14-6 at the end of the first quarter.

Honey Grove got the ball back and Deloach broke loose on another long run, but in one of the biggest plays in the first half, he stepped out of bounds at the Crawford 16, and the Warriors were unable to score from there.

Crawford scored again on a 14-yard run by Breck Crawford. The drive was aided by a brilliant leaping 35-yard catch by Abel for a 21-6 lead.

The Pirates added one more score with 36 seconds left before halftime. Quarterback Merenda broke loose for a 9-yard touchdown run and 28-6 halftime lead.

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