Pioneers Offense, Defense Crush Giants
By Cassie Kickert

2012 Week 3: Stats | Recap

Every season has its own set of challenges. No one expected the 2012 season to be any different. No one could have predicted the Pioneers’ previously deep set of running backs would be down to a couple during Saturday’s NEFL game against the Rochester Giants, though.

As it turned out, there was no need to worry. Quarterback Michael Spriggs and the Pioneers receivers made sure more than enough points were scored to win the game. And the Pioneers defense – continuing its early season dominance – did more than its part as well.

In a 37-0 victory, the Pioneers did make some mistakes but, like all great teams, had the talent to overcome them.

The challenges started early when Lionel Lamarre ran a punt back for a touchdown only to have it called back on a Pioneers penalty.

Spriggs and the offense came right back and scored on a 55 yard touchdown pass from Spriggs to Marcus Foster.

Another challenge came when Lamarre dropped the ball on a punt return and the Giants recovered.  Just six plays later, the Pioneers got the ball back when defensive back Jake Lindsey recovered a Giants fumble.

A 27-yard catch by original Pioneer Damien Rochon-Washington from Spriggs set up the next Pioneers touchdown, a five yard run by DeMario Walton. That made the score 14-0 at the end of the first quarter.

Later, in the second quarter, under pressure from the Pioneers special teams, the Giants snapped the ball out of the end zone for a safety, putting the Pioneers up 16-0.

On the very next Pioneers possession, Spriggs used his arms and legs to punish the Giants. He ran for 24 yards on the first play. Three plays later, he found Marcus Foster again with a beautifully placed pass for
an 8-yard touchdown.

When asked if the team plans to continue passing more because of injuries to the team’s running backs, Spriggs said that was part of the reason. He also said its going to continue as the team opens up more of its playbook.

The team would score again before halftime when Spriggs evaded pressure to find Damien Rochon-Washington for a touchdown. That made the score 30-0 Pioneers at halftime.

With all of that scoring, it would be easy to overlook the Pioneers punishing, ball-stealing and
quarterback-sacking defense. But the fact is, the offense is scoring so often thanks, in part, to the short

field the defense keeps giving it. The Pioneers defense notched its third straight shutout of the season
and the fourth dating back to last year’s NEFL championship game.

Although the Pioneers scored just seven points in the second half on another touchdown pass from Spriggs to Rochon-Washington, the defense repeatedly kept the Giants from sniffing the goal line.

The Pioneers defense was exceptional for the entire game, not just the second half. On one Giants possession in the first quarter, defensive end Garrett Johnson did everything in his power to keep the Giants from getting a first down. On first down, he sacked Giants quarterback Dewayne Allen. Then, he tackled running back Jimmy Barker for a loss of two and on the next play broke up a pass.

Johnson would sack the Giants quarterback two more times – recording three of the team’s 9 sacks on the day. Defensive end Cliff Gordy also had 2 sacks, giving him 5 sacks in the team’s first two league games. Defensive tackle Jeff McGaster was not to be outdone, however. He had 6 tackles and a sack as well. Former Giant Billy Quistorff, who joined the Pioneers this year, forced two fumbles, recovered one and had 7 tackles and a sack.

When asked what it was like to play against his former team, Quistorff said:
“It was fun to get out there and be on the other side of the ball. A lot of love for a lot of those guys but on the other hand we’re out there to win. It was fun to get out there and pull off the win.”

At the end of the day, the defense held the Giants to minus-5 total yards of offense, including a negative 7 yards rushing. Impressive, to say the least.

The Pioneers have a bye week this week. The next chance to watch the Pioneers’ extraordinary offense, defense and special teams is June 2 at 5pm when they host the Menomonie Thunderhawks at Seafoam Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 5 p.m.