Friday night was a big one for the Crandall Pirates. It was the team’s first game on their own turf since August, their district opener against the undefeated Mabank Panthers, and their most well-attended game of the season: homecoming.
The night got off to a wholesome start as lifelong Crandall ISD students Travis Stevens and Shaylee Wickersham were crowned homecoming king and queen much to the delight of the Crandall students, alumni and parents packing the home side stands. But once the action got onto the field, things took a negative turn for the Pirates.
While both teams were able to sustain lengthy drives littered with third-down conversions over the course of the first quarter, it was ultimately the Panthers who battled their way into the Crandall end zone to end the first quarter up by seven. Following another stuttering drive by the Pirates, the Panthers once again broke through midway through the second to take a two-touchdown lead over Crandall 14-0 with 6:23 remaining in the half. As Crandall looked to answer and avoid going into the half empty-handed as the second winded down, a late interception by the Panthers killed that momentum and ensured the Pirates went into the second half scoreless.
After retaking the field, the Pirates were finally able to get on the board with 5:01 remaining in the third quarter putting them within striking distance at 14-7, along with a shot of adrenaline that helped the defense stop the next Mabank drive dead in its tracks to close out the quarter.
Although they began their quarter-straddling drive with a renewed sense of energy, a second interception in the opening seconds of the fourth threatened to derail the Pirates’ hopes for a comeback and put the Panthers inside the Crandall 25 ready to put the nail in the coffin and follow up their undefeated pre-district record with a big win in their district opener. But the Pirates’ defense stepped up again, forcing a turnover on downs and keeping the Pirates’ homecoming dream alive.
The Panthers didn’t make it easy on the Pirates as they made their long trudge across the field toward the Mabank end zone; but after converting multiple times on third down, the Pirates breached their destination, tying the game up at 14-14 with 4:42 left on the clock.
Although the Panthers still had plenty of time to get in scoring range, the Pirates’ defense forced another turnover on downs and the team ran out the clock to overtime.
The Pirates took the ball first and within a matter of moments, carried the ball across into the Mabank end zone for the final time to take the lead 21-14. The Panthers fought tooth-and-nail to do the same, putting together a string of third-down conversions and getting within mere inches of tying things up yet again, but the Crandall defense held strong, covering two final passes to the corner of the end zone to take the win in their district opener and snap the undefeated streak of the presumed district frontrunner as coaches, players and students rushed the field to celebrate the stunning come-from-behind victory their team had achieved.
The Pirates won’t be able to rest on the laurels of its latest triumph, though. This week, they host the 5-1 Life Waxahachie Mustangs, who are fresh off of their 55-35 victory in their district opener against Athens. Meanwhile Mabank will attempt to rehabilitate their season when they host Quinlan Ford who are also licking their wounds after a 51-13 loss to Midlothian Heritage last week. Nothing is set in stone as the six-team district takes shape, but for now the Pirates have plenty to celebrate about a memorable Friday night in Crandall.