COLLINSVILLE — In a defensive struggle based around the running game, the Collinsville Pirates were able to come away with a 7-6 victory against the Bells Panthers and their former head coach, Dale West, who took over at Bells during the off-season.
Points were at a premium and Collinsville (3-1) was able to come away with its third straight win with the difference being a missed extra point after Bells (1-3) scored in the third quarter.
Every game for the Panthers has been decided by a single possession and Bells’ three defeats have been by a combined 11 points.
Bells won the toss but deferred to the second half before recovering the kick to open the game. Collinsville held firms to get the ball back.
Each team traded punts going into the second quarter and when it came time to kick another, a high snap on a Panther attempt in their own end gave the Pirates the ball at the Bells three-yard line.
Trey Shelby took the hand-off in for the touchdown and Collinsville led 7-0 following Joan Carrillo’s extra point with 1:17 remaining in the second quarter.
Bells answered back on the opening drive of the second half, going 64 yards in 10 plays when Blake Rolen scored on a two-yard run. But Keaton High missed the extra point with 7:05 to go in the third and the Panthers were chasing that point the rest of the game.
Neither team was able to produce any more points. Collinsville was putting together a drive before Ben Branam recovered a fumble for the Panthers with five minutes left. Bells took over at its 35 and was on the march for the potential go-ahead score when it made it to the Pirates 23-yard line before coming up short on fourth down.
The Pirates were unable to run out the clock, picking up just five yards, and Bells had one final chance to rally. But Collinsville held on for the win.
Bells had the advantage in yardage — 336 to 160 — with much of that on the ground in the form of 57 carries for 246 yards.
Grady Waldrip finished with 24 carries for 110 yards, Bo Baker added 12 carries for 73 yards, Tyler Hawthorne chipped in 12 carries for 51 yards and Tanner Carter totaled 73 yards on three catches.
Shelby led Collinsville with 124 yards on 16 carries.
Bells will open District 9-3A (II) action at home against the Leonard Tigers on Friday while Collinsville will travel to Seymour to continue non-district play.