Tom Moore would be an incredible Monopoly player.
The third-year Pioneer coach’s decisions Friday night at Nunley Stadium resembled a board game veteran: rolling the dice, hitting chance at the right moment and banking on big plays. It led to landing DeKalb County on Water Works during a 26-10 Warren County victory.
Taking calculated risks was evident from the onset. On the Pioneers’ first drive, coach Moore was left to decide what to do on a short fourth down – play aggressive and go for it, or punt to the Tigers. Time froze, literally, and Moore had plenty of time to make his call.
He might as well had a card reading, “Clock error in your favor, collect a first down.”
After play was delayed by a malfunctioning clock, Moore opted to pull his punt team off the field and instead put the ball in Ethan Cowan’s hands. Cowan converted, paying off on Moore’s roll of the dice. Just four plays later, Isaiah Grayson took a stroll on Boardwalk, galloped around the Tiger defense and into the endzone.
It wasn’t $200, but it was six momentum-swinging points the Pioneers needed.
DeKalb County stayed in the game by inheriting great field position on its first two drives. Two big returns set the Tigers up with the short field, resulting in a field goal and touchdown.
Coach Moore and the Pioneers weren’t settling for second place in the beauty contest though. Cowan and Jay Rozier responded with touchdown runs, putting Warren County ahead 18-10 midway through the second quarter.
Even when Warren County drew bad chance cards, it turned out OK. The Pioneers were plagued by penalties, 15 in all, and none bigger than a block in the back which negated an 86-yard touchdown pass late in the second quarter. Instead of being discouraged by having to move back a few spaces, coach Moore reveled in landing on the Electric Company.
With time dwindling and in Tiger territory, Grayson sent a charge through the Pioneer faithful. The Pioneer QB was able to dip, duck and dodge DeKalb County tacklers on a 27-yard touchdown scramble, fittingly ending with a dive over the pylon. It allowed the Pioneers to carry a 26-10 lead into the locker rooms.
Warren County leaned on its defense in the second half. The Tigers weren’t shoveling over rent money, but turnovers were just as good. The Pioneers picked off Tyler Cantrell three times in the second half and sacked the Tiger signal caller six times in the contest.
By the fourth quarter, Moore and the Pioneers had built all the wealth they needed. Moore was ready to pass go, and the Tigers were going bankrupt.
Coach Moore may not be ready to start constructing condos, but building on an opening-night win is a good consolation prize.