Pioneers Edge Spartans to Clinch Spot in Playoffs
By Cassie Kickert

2012 Week 7: Stats | Recap

Saturday’s game was the latest installment in the Pioneers/Spartans (formerly Dragons) rivalry. From coaches yelling instructions to players on the field to players encouraging each other to keep fighting to the blowing horns blaring from both sides of the field, even the casual observer knew this game meant something to both teams.

To the Pioneers, a win meant a spot in the playoffs. To the Spartans, it meant beating their rival and, also, beating the best.

Games like that rarely go according to plan.

That was the case Saturday as well.

No one could have predicted the Spartans would be the first to score.

After just two plays, Spartans quarterback David Conners threw to receiver Anthony Holloway—for a touchdown. Yes, you read that right. It was the first touchdown surrendered by the Pioneers defense in 2012.

Then, after Pioneers quarterback Michael Spriggs was intercepted, the Spartans had a chance to add to
their lead.

But Pioneers defensive end Guillaume Paek had other ideas. He sacked Conners in the backfield, forcing the Spartans to punt.

The ever-reliable Isaac Odim, the Pioneers leading ball carrier in 2012, carried the ball three times on the next Pioneers drive.

The Pioneers got a big gain when Spriggs threw to receiver Isaac Brown. On the next play, in a scramble, Spriggs threw to Damien Rochon-Washington for a touchdown to tie the game. The tide turned quickly.

On their next possession, the Spartans fumbled a bad snap which the Pioneers’ Terry Jones recovered.  Of course, it didn’t take the Pioneers long to score. After Spriggs attempted to take it in, Odim ran it in for a touchdown.

After another Spartans fumble, Odim ran it in again for his second touchdown. The extra point, however, was no good, making the score 20-7.

Garrett Johnson prevented the Spartans’ next possession from going anywhere when he tackled Conners from behind.

A Pioneers holding penalty on an attempted field goal gave the Spartans a second chance. The Pioneers defense denied them the end zone, though, and forced the Spartans to attempt another field goal. On the second attempt, although it was tipped, the kick still had enough distance. The score was 20-10.

The key play on the Pioneers next drive was a pass from Spriggs to Brown which set up first and goal.  Then, Spriggs threw a short pass to Marcus Foster after a great ball fake for another touchdown. Foster admitted the Pioneers drew the play up in the dirt.

“Oh yeah,” he said. “That’s just what we did.”

Thanks to improvisation and effort, the Pioneers led at halftime 27-10.

Early in the third quarter, the Pioneers had a touchdown called back on a penalty. The Pioneers would not have the ball again until the fourth quarter.

Although the Spartans’ drive lasted most of the third quarter, the team could only manage a field goal to start the fourth quarter.

After the teams traded interceptions on consecutive possessions, the Pioneers took a knee to end the game. Final score: 27-13.

Now, the Pioneers travel to LaCrosse, Wisconsin, to face the River City Rough Riders.