Canyon defense stifles Pampa in District 3-4A DI opener
Canyon defensive back Jett Meek (11) takes Pampa running back Cornelius Landers to the ground during the second quarter of Thursday nights District 3-4A Division I opener at Happy State Bank Stadium. [Trevor Fleeman/ Press Pass Sports]
It became a defensive slugfest rather than a high-powered offensive shootout many fans expected.
In a highly anticipated showdown between two previously unbeaten teams Canyon stifled Pampa for a 21-7 victory to make a statement in a key District 3-4A Division I opener at Happy State Bank Stadium on Thursday night.
“Everyone was thinking there were going to be lots of points,” Canyon head coach Blake Bryant said. “For some reason I had a gut feeling it was going to turn out how it did. I’m proud of our effort and how hard we fought.”
The Eagles (7-0, 1-0) defense held a prolific Pampa (7-1, 0-1) offense to 17 plays and two first downs in the first half.
Pampa’s defense stood on its head the majority of the first half despite Canyon having the better field position. The Eagles were finally able to turn the tide of a scoreless contest in the closing minutes of the second quarter, taking advantage of a Jack Studebaker interception to score on a Brody Cook 1-yard plunge in the final minute to take a 7-0 lead into the locker room.
Turnovers were the Harvesters Achilles heel. Canyon’s defense bottled up dynamic running back Cornelius Landers, making the Harvesters one dimensional. This allowed the defensive line to fluster Studebaker and Canyon’s tremendous secondary to snag four interceptions.
“I felt like they dominated us up front a little bit,” Pampa head coach Greg Poynor said. “We thought we could run the ball on them but their front ate up our line. And their secondary, they got athletes back there that got us out of rhythm.”
Pampa’s offense came in averaging 447 yards and 54 points a game, but was held to a season-low seven points and 180 yards on the night.
Despite the sputtering offense Pampa’s defense gave them life in midway through the third quarter. After a miscue on a Canyon punt at its own 20-yard line, Studebaker hit Jordan Lacy on a 16-yard post route, cutting the lead 14-7.
The Harvesters then stunned Canyon with an onside kick.
Pampa moved the ball to the Canyon 35, but Jett Meek cut under a route and intercepted Studebaker for the Eagles fourth interception.
On the very next play, the Eagles hit the nail in the coffin when quarterback Jay DeFoor put a deep ball on the money to Grayson Hack for a 72-yard scoring pass which gave the Eagles an insurmountable lead.
“That was a huge play,” Bryant said. “We’d been backed up, our backs had been against the wall We got great protection, Jay finally threw a strike and Grayson Hack took it to the house.
Canyon had to work but did total 394 yards against Pampa’s gutsy defense. Defoor was 13-of-23 for 198 yards with a TD and a pick. Running back Brody Cook carried the rock a game-high 34 times for 115 yards with two scores. But it was Jett Meek and the secondary who highlighted the evening. Meek made 12 tackles, nine of which were solo, including three pass break ups to go with his timely INT.
Landers left the game for Pampa in the second half with an undisclosed injury. Before he did leave the explosive junior toted the ball 12 times for 56 yards.
Canyon 21, Pampa 7
Pampa 0 0 0 7 — 7
Canyon 0 7 14 0 — 21
C - Brody Cook 2 run (Elijah Smotherman kick), 0:59
C - Cook 1 run (Smotherman kick), 9:00
P - Jordan Lacy 16 pass from Jack Studebaker (Erick Hernandez kick), 5:46
C - Grayson Hack 72 pass from Jay DeFoor (Smotherman kick)
First Downs 9 18
Rushing 65 198
Passing 115 196
Total yards 180 394
C-A-I 10-37-4 13-23-1
Punts-Avg. 6-39.3 4-35.0
Fumbles-lost 1-1 2-1
Penalties-yards 5-33 7-60
RUSHING— Pampa: Cornelius Landers 12-56, Studebaker 4-(-14), Jordan Lacy 1-5, Sam Anguiano 3-18, Jacobi Carroll 1-0. Canyon: DeFoor 13-30, Cook 34-115, Rafe Butcher 5-44, Joe Shaw 1-9.
PASSING— Pampa: Studebaker 9-36-4-97, Hernandez 1-1-0-18. Canyon: DeFoor 13-23-1-198.
RECEIVING— Pampa: Lacy 3-68, Landers 3-(-1), Jake Thomas 1-7, Cayden Stout 2-30, Hunter Dyer 1-11. Canyon: Shaw 1-3, Jack McKay 6-116, Grayson Hack 3-69, Butcher 2-14, Parker Cunningham 1 -(-6).