To say the Pittsburg Purple Dragons put together an epic, dominant second quarter Friday night in their season opener against the Emporia Spartans could almost be considered an understatement.
The Dragons entered the second quarter trailing 14-6 but, in a 12-minute perfect storm, their offense hit the Spartans with a number of ball carriers and receivers, their defense figured out Emporia’s spread passing attack and their special teams consistently produced superior field position for the Dragon offense.
Pittsburg scored 40 second-quarter points and built a 46-14 halftime lead en route to a 54-28 win over Emporia at Welch Stadium.
The Dragons produced 48 unanswered points before a 17-yard touchdown pass from Sheldon Stewart to Rylan Crowell early in the fourth ended the Spartans’ futility.
Pittsburg jumped out to an early 6-0 lead with a Webb Fern 6-yard TD run.
Emporia answered with a 1-yard TD pass from Stewart to Cooper Rech; Alex Allemang, who hit the winning field goal in overtime against Pittsburg last season, made the extra point for a 7-6 lead.
The Dragons fumbled on their next possession to give the Spartans a short field, then a defensive pass interference call against Pittsburg in the end zone set Emporia up with first-and-goal at the Dragons 8.
On the next play, Stewart and Crowell connected on a 8-yard TD pass.
The tides began to dramatically change, though, in the second quarter and the Dragons engineered a 40-point turnaround.
Outstanding senior running back Wyatt Rink scored three rushing TDs (20, 2, 14), junior Conner Proffitt scored on a 34-yard TD run and on a 17-yard TD reception and sophomore Jayden Brown made a 29-yard TD grab.
A bad snap deep in Spartan territory forced a desperate Allemang, who doubles as Emporia’s punter, to kick the ball through the end zone for a safety.
Stone Peery’s 8-yard TD run and a Fern conversion run produced the only points of the third, as the Dragons took a 54-14 lead into the fourth.
Rink finished the night with 150 yards and three rushing TDs, leading a number of Dragon weapons utilized by second-year head coach Josh Lattimer and offensive coordinator Matt Butler.
Pittsburg’s two-quarterback attack of seniors Fern and Tucker Akins found success most of the debut. Fern and Akins both led Pittsburg’s flexbone, while Akins, making his return to football after missing his junior season due to injury, threw both Dragon scoring passes.
The Pittsburg offensive line, featuring four returning starters in Noah Rogers, Ayden Davis, Nate Mitchell and TJ Wesley, controlled the line of scrimmage during that 40-point quarter.
Pittsburg’s defense snuffed out Emporia’s passing attack during the second and third quarters, with Dragon linemen and linebackers applying pressure on Stewart and slowing down Rech and Crowell after their hot start in the first.
Pittsburg returns home in Week 2 and plays Chanute at Hutchinson Field.
Pittsburg 6 40 8 0 — 54
Emporia 14 0 0 14 — 28
PHS — Webb Fern 6 run (kick failed)
EHS — Cooper Rech 1 pass from Sheldon Stewart (Alex Allemang kick)
EHS — Rylan Crowell 8 pass from Stewart (Allemang kick)
PHS — Wyatt Rink 20 run (run failed)
PHS — Conner Proffitt 34 run (kick failed)
PHS — Safety
PHS — Rink 2 run (pass failed)
PHS — Rink 14 run (Rink run)
PHS — Jayden Brown 29 pass from Tucker Akins (Rink run)
PHS — Proffitt 17 pass from Akins (run failed)
PHS — Stone Peery 8 run (Fern run)
EHS — Crowell 17 pass from Stewart (Allemang kick)
EHS — Rech 21 pass from Stewart (Allemang kick)
Records: Pittsburg 1-0; Emporia 0-1
Next: Chanute at Pittsburg, 7 p.m. Friday