Week 10: Stats | Recap 
Win 28-6 vs Rochester Giants

Poised Pioneers Win on Road to Kickoff the Postseason
By Jon Gray

It was bad timing for the Rochester Giants to take the field against the Pioneers in the opening round of the NEFL playoffs. A frustrated bunch of Pioneers showed up fired up and ready to play. They may have had a little extra motivation going into Saturdays game, after being told they were hosting this first round matchup… only to have it ripped away from them a mere day later by a league ruling on a technicality.

Four dominant quarters later, these Pioneer players walked away with an impressive 28-6 win.

The Pioneers offense couldn’t have picked a better day to play turnover-free football. Paul Ciochetto led the Pioneers methodically up and down the field against the Giants racking up 323 yards of total offense, including 179 yards on the ground along with 144 yards through the air. Joe Sellwood led the Pioneers in rushing with a monster effort in the fourth quarter that included a 26-yard carry right up the gut and straight through the heart of the Giants defense.

Sellwood finished the day with 5 carries for 56 yards and a touchdown.

Joseph Mapson had another solid game, including a few looks from the quarterback position. He called his own number a few times along with throwing some passes to keep the Giants defense honest. His biggest contribution, though, came from his bread and butter – receiving – as he recorded 6 catches for 87 yards. Reggie Houston added another score to his season total as he had 3 grabs for 48 yards and a 15-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter that put the Pioneers up 14-0 shortly before halftime.

The Pioneers defense was rock solid – as always. Their only blemish occurred late in the fourth quarter after the game had already been decided, when the Giants struck through the air on a 33-yard touchdown pass.

The Giants offense looked flustered and frustrated all day as the Pioneers refused to give them anything on the ground, holding the Giants to a measly 11 yards on the ground. It was no different through the air either as the feisty Pioneers secondary was busy breaking up passes and locking down receivers. The Giants quarterback completed just 42 percent of his passes -- 12 of 28.

The biggest moment for the defense occurred in the second half, as the Pioneers held a 22-0 lead. Rochester drove to inside the Pioneers 10-yard line and had the ball first-and-goal.

Eight plays later, the lead was still 22-0, as St. Paul pulled off an amazing eight-play goal line stand. First to stand out was middle linebacker Josh Hollie.  Last year’s conference defensive MVP knifed through the Giants line to make a tackle for loss. Later, a stop on a 4th down pass play was called interference and the Pioneers had to do it all again. They did, with tackle Kym Trueblood and tackle John Liebfried playing huge in the middle and defensive backs Everett Willburn and Nate Beulah clamping down.

The Pioneers were without the services of Jay Harding, their punter and kicker, against the Giants. But the special teams didn’t skip a beat. Rob Wills had a brilliant day punting, including hitting a 56-yard punt that resulted in a touchback. The Pioneers punting unit also forced two fumbles – with one setting up a touchdown.

The victory against the Giants means that the Pioneers will get yet another chance to defeat the Minnesota Dragons next week. The Pioneers have lost and tied the Dragons during the regular season and look for this third meeting to be the charm as they continue their journey to yet another NEFL championship appearance.

Defensive end Cliff Gordy was named defensive player of the game, harassing the Giants quarterback and recording his 10th sack in league play.  But the entire St. Paul defense played strong, with big games from Trueblood, Hollie, Darrell Young and defensive end Jason Bailey.