WOODROW — Nehemiah Martinez and Isaiah Johnson were the two-headed monster Lubbock-Cooper needed.
The two handled all of the ninth-ranked Pirates’ offensive touchdowns and Cooper defeated Coronado 35-21 on Friday at Pirate Stadium.
The two combined for 283 rushing yards, and the Pirates' defense made sure it wasn't in vain by fashioning a near shutout in the second half.
Coronado junior quarterback Sawyer Robertson connected with Cory Ferreira for an 11-yard score with 13 seconds left in the game to spoil the attempt, but the Mustangs fell to 0-2.
The Pirates’ defense pocketed two interceptions, one of which Rylan Wilcox ran back 57 yards for a touchdown for a 28-14 advantage at the 5:12 mark of the fourth quarter. Carter Bradley had the other interception near the end zone in the period before.
“That’s two weeks in a row that the other team is going in to score and take the lead and we got an interception, and then two weeks in a row that we got a pick-six,” Pirates coach Chip Darden said. “Those are game changers.
"We don’t measure defense or offense on yards or first downs. It’s about turnovers. It’s about scoring points, so when our defense is getting turnovers and scoring points, we think good things can happen.”
The score was tied 14-14 at halftime. It remained that way through the third quarter before Cooper ran off three touchdowns in a row.
After Martinez scored both touchdowns in the first half with runs of 32 and 49 yards, Darden and the Pirates went to the wildcat formation at the beginning of the third quarter. While it didn’t pay off right away, it set up Johnson for a go-ahead 1-yard touchdown to start the fourth quarter.
“We’re trying stuff where we’ve got both of them on the field at the same time and try to make them a little more dynamic,” Darden said. “At halftime, we decided we wanted to get in that package and see if we could stay in it. Ended up stopping us on the first drive, but I think it was a successful package."
While the Pirates pounded the ground for 153 yards and two scores in the first half, Robertson found his rhythm early and connected with Eli Martinez for a 21-yard touchdown in the first quarter and a 32-yarder in the second. Those tied the game at 7 and at 14.
Robertson completed 12 of 23 passes for 164 yards in the half but got sacked once by Pirates junior defensive back JoJo Kirkpatrick in the first quarter. He finished with 251 yards in the air, but the Pirates limited the Mustangs to 69 rushing yards.
Coronado, coming off a 36-30 loss last week to Estacado, fell to 0-2.
“We had to rely too much on the pass, but that’s what we do,” Mustangs coach Seth Parr said. “I thought there was some things we could’ve done that we’re going to get better at. We get our chances at the 1-yard line, we’ve got to take advantage of those and it could have been a different game.”
Coronado’s defense came up with timely stops to keep the team going throughout the game. Mustangs senior defensive end Trey Ellis sacked Pirates junior quarterback Cooper LaFebre just before halftime, then got a fourth-down stop to keep the Pirates from scoring in the third quarter.
“I thought defense did a good job and I thought offense moved the ball down the field,” Parr said. “We’ve just got to be able to finish drives. We had some guys out, and I thought the defense did a good job of playing tough and getting physical. … Playing teams like this will make us better.”
Coronado has a short week and is scheduled to host Odessa High at 7:30 p.m. Thursday. Cooper faces Frenship at 7 p.m. Friday in Wolfforth.