Sunnyvale and Pittsburg engaged in an old-school, smash-mouth affair on Friday.
It took a while for the Raiders to get going, but they engineered three touchdown drives in the final 20 minutes to allow them to pull away for a 25-13 victory in a Class 4A Division II bi-district playoff game at Wildcat Stadium in Emory.
Sunnyvale (11-0) moves on to the area round where they will take on Mexia (7-3) at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Athens.
The early stages of the game were dominated by the defenses and special teams.
The Raiders got on the board early in the first quarter when Pittsburg snapped the ball over the punter’s head, resulting in a safety and a 2-0 lead.
Sunnyvale then rolled the dice on its next drive, using a fake punt to set up a 36-yard field goal by Jake Pecina to make it 5-0 and it stayed that way until halftime.
The Raiders were threatening to extend their advantage midway through the third quarter, but the Pirate defense made a huge play when Braydon Bolton picked off a tipped pass and returned it 93 yards for a touchdown and they were suddenly in front 6-5.
Though it had struggled to move the ball consistently up until that point, Sunnyvale began to figure things out and mounted a solid drive, culminating with a 3-yard touchdown run by Tripp McAda to take a 12-6 lead into the fourth quarter.
The Raiders kept the pressure on from there, as Tripp McAda found the end zone on a 13-yard run and then hooked up with Max McAda on a 33-yard scoring strike to take a commanding 25-6 lead.
Pittsburg tacked on a touchdown in the final seconds, but it was too little, too late, as Sunnyvale marched on to the second round.