Pearland proves lightning does strike twice

PEARLAND — The old adage that lightning won't strike twice in the same place was proven wrong by the Pearland Oilers when they knocked off the Clear Springs Chargers 20-17 in the 6A Region III Div. I bi-district contest.

A Houston area sports magazine printed the following: "The Oiler offense cannot play from behind. They aren’t built that way. Prediction: Clear Springs gets big revenge."

This assessment came after reminding readers that Pearland had handed the only loss of the season to Clear Springs in the first game of the 2016 season at the new Challenger Columbia Stadium 28-24.

The Oilers are now 2-0 at the new CCISD Stadium with both wins over Clear Springs as the Oilers edged the Chargers 20-17 on the final play of the game to advance to the area round of the playoffs against the Atascocita Eagles on Saturday, Nov. 19 at NRG Stadium at 12:00 noon.

With the game tied 17-17 with just over five minutes left in the game after Clear Springs tied up the game on a 29-yard field goal, the Oilers did what the local experts said couldn't be done.

The Pearland offense took command of the game to deny the Chargers another possession and proved they could come through in the clutch to pull out a win that most of the local naysayers said couldn't be done.

The mojo of Pearland head coach Tony Heath and the Oilers was evident when Pearland kicker Jacob Keller bounced a 30-yard field goal off the inside of the left upright in the first quarter. Instead of the ball bouncing off the goal post, the ball had just enough angle to sneak through for a 3-0 lead with 6:12 left in the opening quarter.

Clear Springs took their only lead of the game at the 11:44 mark of the second quarter when Todd Hudson scored on a 6-yard run to go up 7-3.

Pearland immediately answered with a 7-play, 66-yard drive when QB Jacob Whitehead fired a 17-yard TD strike to Daniel Petty who made an incredible leaping diving grab in the back of the end zone giving the Oilers a 10-7 lead following the PAT by Keller.

With only 36 seconds left in the first half, Pearland got the ball at their own 44 and decided to take a shot down the field and that call was rewarded when Whitehead hit his favorite target Petty again for a 45-yard completion to the Chargers 11.

Whitehead spiked the ball to stop the clock. With the Chargers defense on their heels and focused on Petty, the next call really surprised Clear Springs when Whitehead dumped off a short pass to an uncovered Joseph Barfield who caught the ball at the six-yard line and then rumbled across the goal line for an unexpected late half score giving Pearland a 17-7 lead at intermission.

The second half belonged to a stout Pearland defense despite giving up 10 points.

The Chargers scored on a 60-yard bomb with 5:23 left in the third to cut the lead to 17-14.

Clear Springs tied up the game 17-17 with 5:35 left in the contest on a 29-yard field goal by Connor Harris.

That set the stage for Pearland's game-winning drive that consumed the final 5:31 of the game resulting in the Keller's 24-yard game-winning field goal with no time left on the game clock giving the Oilers the hard-fought 20-17 victory and proving that lightning does strike twice in the same place.

In the game-winning drive, Whitehead had five completions and senior running back Davier Pinkston had five key runs.

But it was the Pearland defense that came to the rescue as they allowed the Chargers only 210 total yards including a meager 34 yards on the ground.

"I thought we did a tremendous job with our front four of putting pressure on their quarterback," Heath said. "They've got some guys that can go. Our kickoff team did a good job of slowing them down, too."

Pearland had a balanced offense with 127 yards rushing and 229 yards passing for 356 total yards.

"The short passing game was very efficient," Heath said. "Our run game…we really couldn't get it going. "We just got enough first downs on that last drive to get in position for the field goal.

"These kids have stepped up when they had to. I trust these kids. Our record doesn't measure our heart. We're a good team regardless of those three losses. Really, to us, we're 1-0."

Whitehead was 24-of-38 passing for 229 yards and two TDs.

Pinkston had 20 carries for 82 yards.

Petty had 11 catches for 118 yards and one score while Triston Gibson had five grabs for 65 yards.