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Pirates put old `spin' on win


-- The Phoenix Pirates flashed a little offense from the past in the second quarter Friday night when they revived the spin-T just long enough to perhaps put a scare in future opponents and rattle the confidence of the Illinois Valley Cougars.

The Pirates also ran their double-slot offense smoothly and effectively for much of the remainder of the game.

The combination of the two contrasting offenses was too much for the Illinois Valley defense to handle as the Pirates rolled to a 32-15 Skyline Conference win at Jack Woodward Stadium.

The Pirates took a 14-0 lead with two touchdowns just nine minutes into the game, and then held off a determined Cougars' second-half rally to improve their season record to 3-1 and their Skyline Conference record to 1-1.

IV fell to 1-3 overall and 0-2 in the Skyline.

I'm pleased with the way we played offense, but our defense wasn't very good, Phoenix coach Joe Hagler said. It's nice to have the spin-T back. I'm a big fan of it, but we just haven't had the quickness to run it the last five years.

But with running backs Florin McGee and receivers Joel Bath and ron Monical offering speed and versatility to the double-slot and spin-T attacks, the Pirates were unpredictable and explosive in producing big plays that led to most of their scores.

The biggest was a 56-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Bobby Dawson to Monical with 9:27 left in the third quarter. Monical caught a pass from holder Travis Dunlap for the ensuing two-point conversion after Dunlap juggled the snap on the attempted kick.

The eight-point possession gave Phoenix a 22-7 lead.

Hagler -- a blocking fullback for Woodward's spin-T offense in 1971 at Phoenix -- knows the offense as well as anybody. And he likes it.

I was the biggest back in Woodward's offense, said Hagler, who weighed in at a robust 148 pounds. We were a bunch of quick little guys.

He said he plans to use it more and more.

I didn't want to show the whole thing to Hidden Valley and Henley, said Hagler. We still have big games coming up against those teams, and we didn't want to let them see everything we have.

Illinois Valley coach Perry Sheehan said he was impressed with the Phoenix offense.

I think he (Hagler) has a nice package with the two offenses, said Sheehan. They have some good athletes and Joe (Hagler) has done a good job putting it all together.

Despite making some impressive plays out of the spin-T, which features a conventional snap to a blocking quarterback or a snap between the legs of the quarterback to the spinning fullback, the Pirates did all of their scoring out of the double-slot.

They drove 15 yards in six plays to score their first touchdown on a 1-yard run by fullback Chris Loftin.

The short drive was set up when IV punter Jesse Camp muffed the snap and could not pick up the ball in time to avoid the Phoenix rush.

Phoenix drove 65 yards in 10 plays to its second touchdown on its next series. McGee ran 16 yards on a sweep of right end and wide receiver Theron Hull caught a 10-yard pass from Dawson to move the ball to the Illinois Valley 4-yard line. Dawson kept the ball and ran 4 yards for the touchdown on the next play.

Kyle Kennedy kicked his second consecutive conversion attempt to give the Pirates a 14-0 lead with 3:01 left in the first half.

Behind the bruising running of 220-pound junior fullback Brandon Henry, the Cougars started to find themselves offensively after the second Phoenix touchdown.

Illinois Valley drove 77 yards for a touchdown, finishing the march with a 33-yard pass from quarterback Jared Larsen to wide receiver Kevin Fox.

Early in the third quarter, the Cougars scored their second touchdown after McGee fumbled the ball away trying to field a punt. Justin Spliethoff of IV recovered at the Phoenix 5-yard-line.

Three plays later, Larsen scored on a 2-yard touchdown run and Henry added the conversion kick.

The Cougars successfully negotiated an onside kick on the ensuing kickoff with Mike McDowell scooping up the loose ball.

But Phoenix held off that IV drive and the Pirates outscored the Cougars 10-0 in the final quarter.

A 3-yard touchdown run by Dawson capped a 73-yard drive. Big plays during the drive were a 29-yard pass from Dawson to Hull and a 23-yard run by Monical down the right sideline after he reversed his field.

Kennedy completed the Phoenix scoring with a 37-yard field goal with 1:57 left in the game.

It's a big win for us, said Monical. It gets us back on track after we lost at Mazama last week.

Dawson completed 8 of 12 passes for 131 yards and one touchdown. Our offense was great, said Dawson. We showed a lot of speed tonight.

Led by Loftin's 52 yards on eight carries, Phoenix finished with 165 yards on the ground and 131 passing for a total of 296.

Henry ran 14 times for 66 yards for the Cougars.

He's a horse of a running back, said Hagler. He's just a junior who's going to get better and better.

Illinois Valley

...............0 7 8 0 -- 15 Phoenix

....................14 0 8 10 -- 32

P -- Loftin — run (Kennedy kick) P -- Dawson 4 run (Kennedy kick) IV -- Fox 33 pass from Larsen (Henry kick) P -- Monical 56 pass from Dawson (Monical pass from Dunlap) IV -- Larsen — run (Henry kick) P -- Dawson — run (Kennedy kick) P -- Kennedy 37 FG

Phoenix running back Eric Kessler (11) picks up yardage as Illinois Valley's Chris Strand (55) pursues him. - Photo by Jim Craven