FAIRHOPE, Ala. — The Fairhope Pirates bounced back from a season-opening road loss to Wetumpka, cruising past the Mary G. Montgomery Vikings to claim a 49-21 victory in their home and 7A Region 1 opener Friday night on W.C. Majors Field at Fairhope Municipal Stadium.
“I’m very proud of our players and coaches for the way they responded,” said Pirate head coach Tim Carter following Friday’s victory. “The coaches came out with a great game plan and our players went out and executed it early.”
The Pirate defense bent but didn’t break when they cut short an opening MGM drive from the Viking 37 to the Pirate 22, ending abruptly with an interception by sophomore tackle Hagan LeDrew.
The senior trio of Devin Mitchell, donning the uniform of injured linebacker Andre Doucet, Darnell Bell and Michael Colclasure ran 65 yards on six carries, along with an end-around by senior receiver Clayton Connick, to strike first with just under three minutes to play in the first quarter.
The drive was capped by a 26-yard run by Bell and Sam Rayborn chipped in the extra point to give the Pirates a 7-0 lead with 2:54 to play in the opening period.
The Pirate defense and special teams set up another score to open the second quarter, pinning the Vikings deep in their own territory and a muffed punt attempt gave Fairhope a short field at the MGM 3.
After giving up a sack on first down, Mitchell connected with Webb Hutchinson and Rayborn’s PAT made the score 14-0 with 10:16 to play in the half.
Mitchell connected with Riley Leonard on a 40-yard scoring strike to tack on another score before halftime 21-0 before the Vikings returned a blocked fieldgoal attempt to cut the lead to 21-7 at the end of the first half.
“We were trying to manage the clock and get ourselves in position for another score before halftime,” Carter said, “and everything worked great, except that they made a great play.”
MGM managed to cut the lead to 21-14 on a 50-yard touchdown pass with 5:56 remaining in the third period, but Fairhope was able to bounce back, scoring 21 unanswered points, a 21-yard pass from Mitchell to Jackson Turner, followed by a 6-yard Mitchell to Turner connection, before again getting a short field on a snap over the head of the Viking punter to the MGM 2.
Braxton Jordan took the direct snap and rolled into the endzone untouched. Rayborn’s PAT again sailed true for a 42-14 Pirate lead with 7:10 to play in the fourth quarter.
A 95-yard kickoff return on the ensuing kickoff was too-little, too-late for the Vikings. Backup quarterback Riley Leonard scored on a three-yard for the final score of the contest with 2:22 remaining to give the Pirates a 49-21 victory.
The Pirates outgained the Vikings on the ground and in the air with 345 total yards to just 196 for the Vikings. Colclasure claimed 112 of Fairhope’s 236 rushing yards on just eight carries. Bell tacked on 57 yards on seven carries. Mitchell was nearly perfect in the air, completing 75 percent of his passes (9 of 12) for 109 yards and four touchdowns, adding 22 yards on six carries.
The Pirates, now 1-1 (1-0 in 7A Region 1) were scheduled to take on Murphy in a Thursday night contest at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. Results were not available at presstime.