COLLINSVILLE — In a match-up where the defenses came up with stop after stops, the Celeste Blue Devils finally broke through the second half with a touchdown early in the fourth quarter that turned out to be the difference.
Isaiah Buckley scored the only points after half-time with an eight-yard TD run — his only carry of the game — that gave Celeste a 14-8 victory against the Collinsville Pirates in District 6-2A (I) action on Friday night.
It was the district opener for Celeste (5-0, 1-0), which had the bye the previous week and saw Collinsville start with a low-scoring victory against Blue Ridge. The Pirates were on the way to recreating that formula against the Blue Devils.
Collinsville held Celeste scoreless in the first quarter and the Pirates mounted a quick 61-yard drive that was capped off by a 48-yard run by Gustavo Romo with 7:44 left in the frame. Cooper Smith connected with Blake Williams for the two-point conversion and Collinsville nearly kept that lead until half-time.
Collinsville ran the ball on 53 of its 57 snaps but gained only 207 yards. Romo led the Pirates with 64 yards on nine carries while Justin Hernandez had nine carries for 51 yards and Taylor Bennett chipped in 49 yards on 13 carries.
Celeste was able to get on the scoreboard right before the break. Logan Franklin had a five-yard touchdown run but the Blue Devils couldn’t notch the two-point conversion and Collinsville held the two-point advantage.
The third quarter proved to be a defensive stalemate and neither team was able to produce any points. Collinsville did put together a 10-play drive but the Blue Devils forced a turnover on downs and Celeste was unable to have a fruitful possession.
The Pirates were unable to extend their lead when they got the ball back in the latter stages of the third and Celeste was able to capitalize when it took over.
The Blue Devils went 69 yards drive with Buckley scoring and then Franklin hit Jalen Rector in the end zone for the conversion and a 14-8 advantage with 10:24 left in the game.
Collinsville launched a final chance to re-gain the lead but a fumble allowed Celeste to run the final minutes off the clock for the victory.
Damon Crook led Celeste, which finished with just 199 yards, with 70 yards on 10 carries while Franklin and Rector combined to complete 9-of-13 passes for 87 yards.
Celeste will look to continue its undefeated start — which comes after the Blue Devils went 0-10 last season — when it hosts Tom Bean on Friday. Celeste and Valley View are the only undefeated teams left in the district standings.
Collinsville has the district bye this week before taking on Tom Bean next Friday.