Pisgah head coach Luke Pruitt wanted to a see his team produce a big play on special teams in its season opener.
He didn’t have to wait long for it to happen.
Nate Cornelison swung momentum back to Pisgah’s side to stay with an 82-yard kickoff return for a touchdown late in the first quarter as the Eagles went on for a 47-21 victory over Woodville Friday night in their first trip to play at WHS’ Frazier Field.
“We have several guys that can make a big play on special teams, and (Cornelison) is one of them,” said Pisgah head coach Luke Pruitt. “That was a really big play. (Woodville had) just scored, so that was kind of deflating for them and big for us.”
Pisgah (1-0) won its season opener for the sixth straight season.
The Eagles, a run-first team, used the pass to register their first two scores, touchdowns passes of 31 and 8 yards from Parker Law to Austin Brunck. Paul Gallegos kicked the first two of his five PATs to give Pisgah a 14-0 first-quarter lead.
Woodville (0-2) countered on its second series as Jackson Peek pitched just in time on the option to Da’vion Johnson, who scampered to end zone from 20 yards out. Woodville pulled within 14-7 after Carlos Torres’ PAT.
But Cornelison fielded the ensuing kickoff at his own 18, maneuvered through the oncoming Woodville kick coverage members and broke free to give the Eagles a 20-7 lead with 1:19 left in the opening quarter.
“That really hurt because we’d gotten back in it after having a real good drive,” said Woodville head coach Jay Powell.
Pisgah upped its lead to 26-7 with 10:41 left in the second quarter on Rhyan Barrett’s 14-yard touchdown run, but Woodville countered with a six-play drive highlighted by Peek’s 36-yard pass to Corbin Jones that set up Peek’s 3-yard touchdown run. Peek then ran for the two-point conversion to cut Pisgah’s lead to 26-15.
The Eagles however closed the first half with Cornelison’s 8-yard touchdown run and Law’s 54-yard touchdown pass to Jared Wilks — all three of the sophomore’s pass completions in his first career start went for touchdowns — to build a 40-15 halftime lead.
Cornelison added a 26-yard touchdown run on Pisgah’s first possession in the third quarter. Peek closed the scoring for Woodville with a 3-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
Pisgah finished with 373 total yards, including 280 rushing. Barrett ran for 70 yards on two carries while Cornelison had 65 yards on four carries, Law 56 yards on six carries and Steven Wheeler 32 yards on two carries and Tyler Bell 29 yards on two carries. Brunck caught two passes for 39 yards and two scores.
“I thought we corrected some things on offense (from the jamboree),” Pruitt said. “It was exciting to see the capabilities when we do things right. We spent a lot of time this week trying to get that corrected. We may not have spent enough time on defense. We’ve got some things we’ve got to clean up on defense. But you do have to tip your hat to (Woodville) That quarterback (Peek) and that running back (Johnson) are athletes and are going to do some damage in their region.”
Woodville finished with 227 total yards and 194 rushing yards. Peek rushed for 101 yards on 17 carries for the Panthers while Johnson, who played after nursing an injury suffered in last week’s game at Waterloo, had 59 yards on 10 carries.
“We just made too many mistakes,” Powell said. “Pisgah’s a really good team and they force you into some of those. But we’ve got to cut out the mistakes heading into the region (play).”