PILOT ROCK - Whether it was limping, dragging or crawling, Pilot Rock quarterback Chance Bandy was not coming out of the Rockets' final home game against Elgin Friday.
The senior signal caller said he tweaked his ankle at the tail end of the third quarter, but gritting his teeth, he went back onto the field. Declaring himself OK, Bandy rushed for the Rockets' two fourth-quarter touchdowns - the last one giving the Rockets the 36-27 edge that would stand to the final whistle.
Overall, Bandy churned out 105 yards on 16 carries against the Huskies (5-3, 4-2 BMC), reaching paydirt three times. He also passed for 169 yards, hitting five different receivers.
"I wasn't coming out," Bandy said. "It was my last season home game, I wasn't coming out ... This game showed we could play through some adversity. A lot of things happened and some things didn't go our way, but we hung in there. We lost our heads for a few moments, but we still hung in there, fought hard and came out on top."
Aside from Bandy, Travis Copeland came up lame several times, fighting back pain in his right leg, often walking up and down the sidelines gingerly to stay loose. The team also lost senior receiver Kris Snodgrass due to ejection in the second half, leaving the Rockets (7-1, 5-1 BMC) even more short-handed.
"It's nice because we have those extra weapons," Pilot Rock coach Troy Jerome said. "And coach (Kevin) Nice and the offensive coaches do a great job of spreading the ball out throughout the game. If somebody does go down it's not like it's a major blow. It is, but our kids just handled that adversity and made a stand."
One of those players who filled the void in the second half was senior Tanner Mitchell. Used sparingly in the receiving core this season, Mitchell made a catch on a slant route, then outmaneuvered the nearest defender, sprinting nearly 50 more yards to the Elgin five-yard line. The catch set up the game-deciding touchdown run from Bandy with 1:29 remaining.
"We all wanted this one pretty bad after losing to them last year we wanted some revenge," Mitchell said. "It was definitely on my mind. Every time I watched film from last year I got mad."
That fire also fueled the Rocket defense to keep Elgin in check for the most part. Clint Predmore tore up the field throughout the game, rushing for 264 yards and a touchdown.
But Pilot Rock steeled itself when it mattered most, making a goal line stand once in the first half and also stopping a two-point conversion just short of the end zone to preserve the lead in the fourth quarter.
"We've been like that all year," Jerome said. "We do a lot of bending but we haven't broke too many times, so that's kind of what we're expecting."