Bulletin Staff Report

CRAWFORD — The Early Longhorns carried a 17-14 lead over Crawford into the fourth quarter, but the Pirates scored three times in the final period to claim a 34-17 non-district win Friday night.

The loss spoiled a 206-yard rushing performance by Early’s Collin Rome, who carried the ball 19 times and scored one touchdown.

The Horns used big plays to move the ball sharply at times against the Pirates defense, but several scoring opportunities slipped away after penalties, including four offensive holding calls in the first half.

Early quarterback Nick Lyle, making his first start of the year, was 14-of-29 for 167 yards, but was also picked off twice. Cody Bullard led Horn receivers with four catches for 70 yards, and Austin Cochran caught three for 57 yards.

“This team has got to regroup and rebound in a hurry,” Coach Robbie Tindol said after the game. “We’ve got a lot of growing up to do, but I think they’ll rise to the challenge. We didn’t play our best brand of ball, but I knew this team wouldn’t be peaking out in Week 1, or even Week 2. I’m proud of them for their effort. We’ve got a tough district and a tough non-district schedule, with Clyde next week, and we’re going to go back to work.”

Early and Crawford traded punches throughout the first three quarters, with the Longhorns scoring first on a 26-yard Mitchell Bailey field goal with 4:10 left in the opening quarter. Crawford answered with a 17-yard touchdown run by Brock Duncan with 1:01 left in the first, and after the kick the Pirates owned a 7-3 lead.

The Horns went ahead 10-7 just 11 seconds into the second quarter when Rome danced for 31 yards and Bailey’s kick was true. The Pirates responded with 11:10 left in the period on Duncan’s 5-yard run to take a 14-10 lead that held up through halftime.

The Longhorns struggled with poor field position through much of the rest of the second quarter, but the Early defense managed to hold the Pirates’ potent offense out of the end zone.

The Horns recaptured the lead with 9:48 left in the third when Rome carried the final yard for a touchdown, and Bailey’s kick made it 17-14. But that’s all the points Early would score, and Crawford put up three unanswered scores in the fourth quarter.

The first came on the first play of the period, with 11:56 left in the game, as Duncan ran 1 yard. Taylor Holmes scored for Crawford on a 15-yard run with 8:05 left, and Duncan added the final score on a 50-yard catch-and-run play from quarterback Chase Lynch.

Two Crawford running backs had 100-plus yard games, with Jordan Farmer carrying four times for 110 yards and Duncan getting 108 yards on 14 rushes.