After a disastrous first half, Granbury came out in the second half with fire in their eyes.
Unfortunately for the Pirates, it wasn’t enough.
After a momentary lapse and with playoff implications for both teams on the line, host Saginaw met fire with fire and prevailed, 24-7 on Friday night.
As a result, Saginaw (7-3, 5-3 in District 3-5A DI) will travel to Birdville, Thursday at 7 p.m. in the first round of the playoffs. Granbury (6-4, 5-3) will square off against Denton Ryan, No. 3 in the state, at the same time and day at C.H. Collins Stadium.
It will be Saginaw’s fourth visit to the postseason since the school opened in 2005 and first in six years.
“I’m very proud,” said a beaming coach Dane Johnson. “We all came in together and grew together. The hard work and sacrifice paid off. It’s a great honor.”
In the first half, the Pirates turned the ball over four times, three by interception and the other by a fumble. For the game, the Pirates fumbled six times losing three.
The first interception led directly to a touchdown. With 1:51 left in the first quarter, Demitri Williams stepped in front of a throw and returned it 26 yards down the sideline for a 7-0 Rough Rider lead.
Though early, Johnson thought this was a defining moment.
“Any play like that just changes the momentum and has a big impact on the game,” he said.
In the meantime, Saginaw quarterback Kameron Williams and his receivers were having a phenomenal night. Williams, a senior, went to the air and often. He completed 21 of 34 passes for 274 yards.
Saginaw WR Blayne Taylor caught two TDs, the first coming after a fumble recovery at the Saginaw 48. After a procedure penalty, Williams methodically connected on three straight throws of 23, 24 and 10 yards, the last accounting for Taylor’s touchdown catch.
Another interception by Richard Pinto, who had two for the game, led to a field goal as the Rough Riders took a 17-0 lead into halftime. Pinto made the pick at Granbury’s 17-yard line and returned it to the 7. Cody Grubbs nailed a 20-yard try.
Granbury took the second-half kickoff and promptly drove from its 31 to the 2-yard line in eight plays only to fumble away the ball. The Pirates got the ball back though moments later when Saginaw coughed it up at its 30, the Rough Riders’ only turnover.
The Pirates were able to take advantage, turning it into a 6-play scoring drive. Austin Jinkerson kept it from the 1 for Granbury’s only score. That made it 17-7 midway in the third quarter.
“They showed a lot of character,” said Johnson of the momentum shift. “They’re a good team. At the start of the second half, they got after it and drove down the field. Coach Chad Zschiesche and his staff did a great job getting his kids ready and prepared. They gave us a lot of turnovers in the first half.”
Taylor had his second touchdown catch for the final score with 4:49 left while Saginaw’s J.T. Kennard led all receivers with nine catches for 159 yards.