Pioneers Shut Out Giants in Rochester
By Cassie Kickert

2012 Week 6: Stats | Recap
| Photos

On Saturday, the St. Paul Pioneers hit the “replay” button. Another game with rain. Another shutout by the defense. Another scoring frenzy.

But this game didn’t start with a quick score as so many have this season. The end result was the same, though: another huge Pioneers victory.

Neither team would score on their first possession. On the second Pioneers possession, however, running back Isaac Odim – a star and national champion at the University of Minnesota-Duluth -- was the workhorse. He gained all of the Pioneers 78 yards on the drive, including a 63 yard touchdown run for the game’s first score.

The next Giants drive started at their own 23. The Pioneers defense, including linebacker Phil Breidall who sacked Giants’ quarterback Mike Van Leer when he exploded through the line on a blitz, ensured they did not get beyond it.

When a fake punt failed on 4th and 30, the Pioneers started at the Giants 11 yard line. After quarterback Michael Spriggs ran three yards, Odim ran it in for his second touchdown of the day.

For the game, Odim had 143 yards on just 11 carries.

Good tackling and two sacks on consecutive plays by linebackers Billy Quistorff and Patrick Mitambo prevented the Giants from accomplishing much on their next possession.

The passing game got the Pioneers quickly downfield to the Giants 37 with a 32 yard pass from Spriggs to receiver Damien Rochon-Washington. Then, the Pioneers overcame two delay of game penalties courtesy of a 12 yard run by running back Brian Holmes and Spriggs’ six-yard pass to Marcus Foster.  After a 15-yard pass to Isaac Brown, Holmes ran it in from 11 yards out.

That made the score 21-0 Pioneers about halfway through the second quarter.

The Giants couldn’t take advantage of great field position at the 40 on their next drive, gaining only nine yards before defensive end Garrett Johnson recovered a Giants fumble near midfield. Johnson, who played at North Dakota State University in Fargo, has been a huge addition to the Pioneers defense this season.

The next highlight was one that is becoming familiar to Pioneers fans: A Lionel Lamarre punt return for a touchdown. This time, the speedy corner and kick returner ran back a Giants punt 60 yards for a touchdown.

Pioneers penalties kept the next Giants possession alive. However, in the end, Giants’ quarterback Tim Williams was not able to get enough yards for a first down after being tackled by Mitambo.

Spriggs’ receiver of choice on the next drive was Delane Woods. On the first play, Woods caught a four yard pass from Spriggs. A Giants personal foul moved the ball an additional 15 yards. Then, Spriggs found Woods again, hitting him in stride for a 52 yard touchdown to make the score 35-0 at halftime.

A heavy rainfall started the second half, causing both teams to drop the ball and make mistakes.

Both teams traded possessions several times before the Pioneers’ ground game put the ball into the end zone again, this time on a Demario Walton touchdown run to start the fourth quarter. The skies then cleared, and the Pioneers again began scoring in bunches.

Then, on the first Giants play of the fourth quarter, Lamarre intercepted the Giants again, running this one 80 yards for a touchdown.

Asked how it felt to have two touchdowns without any penalties calling them back, Lamarre said:
“In the game of football, you can never get too high and you can never get too low…I try to take everything in stride. I know without my teammates and coaches putting me in a perfect position, none of this would have happened. I’m just grateful that I’m able to go out and showcase my abilities.”

Another interception by Everett Wilburn gave the Pioneers the ball again.

A pass interference penalty on the Giants moved the Pioneers to the Giants’ 12 yard line. It took just two plays for Jamal McNutt to score another touchdown, making the score 56-0 Pioneers.

The Pioneers defense wasted no time, recovering a Giants fumble on the first play of the next Giants drive.

When the Pioneers took over at the Giants’ 24, running back Demetrius Hawkins ran all 24 yards for yet another Pioneers touchdown.

The score then: 63-0 just four and a half minutes into the fourth quarter.

Lamarre said the defensive line is a primary reason opposing offenses have trouble against the Pioneers defense.

“Our defensive line is amazing. If you’re not a top notch quarterback with a legitimate offensive line, it’s hard to get anything going against our front seven,” he said.

Now, the Pioneers play the Minnesota Spartans again, the only team to score on the Pioneers this season. Will the defense shut them out this time? Come and see for yourself.