Pearl-Cohn used a balanced offensive attack to move on to the quarterfinals of the Class 4A state football playoffs.
The Firebirds (8-4) set up a rematch with Region 5-4A foe Springfield with a 28-17 victory over visiting Lipscomb Academy on Friday.
“We knew it was going to be a dogfight,” Pearl-Cohn quarterback Jimmy Ferrell said.
Pearl-Cohn struck first. After stopping Lipscomb (8-4) on its first drive of the game, the Firebirds drove 80 yards in five plays and took the lead on Key’juan Vaughn’s 11-yard touchdown run. The Firebirds missed the extra point.
Lipscomb responded by scoring 10 straight points, including a 36-yard bomb from quarterback John Matt Merritt to William Phillips.
The teams then traded a couple scores, but at the end of the first half, Ferrell’s one-yard touchdown plunge gave the hosts a 20-17 halftime lead.
Pearl-Cohn stepped it up defensively in the second half.
After allowing Merritt to post 203 yards passing and two touchdowns in the first half, Pearl-Cohn limited him to just 10 yards passing and an interception in the second half.
“We challenged the defensive backs to play harder at halftime,” Firebirds coach Tony Brunetti said. “Also, Kenneth Miller and Jonathan Howse were huge for us in the second half.”
The Firebirds all but put the game out of reach when Jimmyrious Parker rambled 60 yards for a touchdown on a fourth-quarter punt return.
“I knew I won the game on that play,” Parker said.
Ferrell passed for 156 yards, while Vaughn rushed for 165 yards.
Merritt was 7-of-14 passing for 213 yards, two touchdowns and the interception.
“Our guys played their guts out,” Lipscomb coach Scott Tillman said. “I am proud of them for battling.”