WALL LAKE - The Cherokee Braves, playing in new confines in a new District this season, are starting to get their sea legs, and what better place than next to a body of water.
The Braves, notching their third consecutive victory, sunk East Sac County 34-20 here Friday night, after reeling in a 34-0 lead late into the third quarter, before the host Raiders tallied three unanswered touchdowns with one late in the third, and two more in the fourth to make the outcome respectable.
The Braves tacked on two more TDs in the second frame on a 13-yard pass from Tyler Jones to Kyle Schuck, and a 12-yard ramble to paydirt by Pitts to take a 21-0 lead in at halftime, with Pitts successfully kicking all three PATs.
Cherokee put up two more TDs in the third quarter on a 30-yard Jones to Schuck aerial, and a 17-yard TD interception by Nick Parker to round out the Braves scoring.
East Sac County scored its first TD in the third on a seven-yard run by quarterback Drew McDonough. He scored again in the fourth on a five-yard run, and the Raiders scored their final TD in the fourth on a 24-yard TD pass from McDonough to Tommy Mann following a successful on-side kick after their second TD.
Cherokee rushed 40 times for 171 yards, with Pitts leading the way with 16 carries for 110 yards at two TDs. Jones rushed 14 times for 44 yards. The state's leading career yards passer in history, Jones completed a cozy 9-12 passes for 181 yards, two TDs, and one interception.
Schuck was his favorite receiver with six catches for 141 yards, while Matt Koch caught two for 24 yards, and Pitts one for 16.
East Sac County rushed 35 times for 121 yards, with Nathan McKeever leading the way with eight hauls for 65 yards. McDonough was 11-21 passing for 148 yards with one TD and three picks.
Koch led Cherokee tacklers with 11, followed by Dan Bieber nine, Philip Bieber seven, Cody Stowater seven, and Cutter Carlson five. Parker had two interceptions and Schuck one.
"We're happy with the win. It's our first on the road this season," said Cherokee coach Kurt Reynolds. "We didn't finish. We're not used to having the big lead late in the game and I think we backed off. We will learn to finish.
"We need to learn to play with the lead. Our defense was tremendous for three quarters and then we got lethargic with the big lead. We also were working on bulding our depth by playing some of the younger kids. We need to work on our depth and rest some kids during the game."
The Braves are now 3-3 over all and 3-1 in Class 2A District play and host 1-5, 0-4 Buffalo Ridge Friday Oct. 10 in District play.