After back-to-back wins, the Branson Pirates hit the road to head to Carthage – a team that is undefeated so far this season, and the team that won the Class 5 State Tournament last season. 

While Branson fell 33-10, head coach Anthony Hays said he felt like the team competed really well throughout the whole game.

“We played hard, we played physical,” Hays said. “There were just a couple plays that didn’t go our way.”

He added that he’s proud of his team and how they went up against the defending state champions. They played hard for all four quarters, and they’re getting better each week.

“I’m just proud of our kids and the effort they’ve been giving us,” Hays said.

Hays said the Pirates opened up the game with a nice drive and took a 3-0 lead. Carthage answered with a couple of touchdowns to take a 13-3 lead. With just a few minutes until the half, Branson answered with one of their own to make it a 13-10 game. 

He felt that if they could hold Carthage to that 13-10 lead, they’d be able to compete in the second half and see what happens. 

Unfortunately, Carthage ended up scoring right before half to pull them up to a 19-10 lead. They scored again on their first possession after the half, making it 26-10. 

“That kind of swung the momentum,” Hays said. “That’s kind of how the game ended.”

Carthage got one more on the board before the end of the game, but that would be it.

“We competed,” Hays said. “We had a lot of good drives that didn’t end in points, we were able to move the ball and really, looking back, they kept the ball from us most of the game. We only ended up with 38 offensive plays, and I think they had over 60. You can’t score when you don’t have the football. They played a good game of keep away and had long, sustaining drives that ended in scores for them.”

With the loss, the Pirates fall to 2-3 on the season. They return home Friday night to host Webb City (4-1), and Hays said they’re ready to be back home after spending the last two weeks on the road.

“We love playing at Pirate Stadium,” Hays said. “We feel like we have a home field advantage, obviously, and we enjoy playing in front of our home crowd. We’re hoping to make them proud on Friday.”

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