Pioneers Dominate Rough Riders, Clinch Top Seed in 2012 NEFL playoffs
By Cassie Kickert

2012 Week 9: Stats | Recap

Pioneers fans saw a familiar sight Saturday during St. Paul’s final regular season game against the River City Rough Riders at Seafoam Stadium: Isaac Odim running almost the length of the field for an early Pioneers touchdown.

Less than two minutes into the game, the star running back from the University of Minnesota-Duluth ran 83 yards on the Pioneers’ second offensive play. It gave him and the team a great start on another superior day rushing. Odim carried the ball just eight times for 145 yards.

The Pioneers were not done, though. They were on a mission—a mission to clinch the top seed in the 2012 NEFL playoffs.

Less than two minutes later, quarterback Michael Spriggs showed everyone his ball faking skills when he appeared to toss it to Odim, then kept it and ran in untouched for a touchdown.

Then the Pioneers defense got into the act, when linebacker John Robinson blocked Travis Mangene’s punt and defensive back Jake Lindsey recovered the ball in the end zone for another Pioneers

Receiver Isaac Brown had a great game, catching four passes on the next Pioneers possession alone.  Then, Spriggs took it in for his second rushing touchdown of the day.

For the game, Brown had six receptions for 57 yards. Spriggs also had two touchdown passes, both to Marcus Foster.

The first one, for 18 yards, came after a Lionel Lamarre interception, making the score 35-0 three minutes before halftime.

The Pioneers still were not done.

With about a minute left before halftime, Spriggs threw to Foster again, who ran 68 yards down the sideline for the last score of the first half. Foster finished with two catches for 87 yards and the two scores.

The score at halftime: 42-0 Pioneers. And that was all St. Paul needed to finish tied with the Lake Superior Rage at 8-0 for the Northern Elite Football League’s best regular season record. St. Paul gets the top seed for the playoffs, however, because the Pioneers stingy defense has given up the fewest points of any team in the NEFL. On the season, St. Paul has surrendered only 28 points total.

The Pioneers also set a record for most points scored in a season – all in the first half.

The Pioneers defense held the Rough Riders to 124 total yards and sacked rough riders’ quarterbacks three times. The last sack by Garrett Johnson just before time expired sealed the victory for the Pioneers, who achieved their first undefeated regular season in team history.

Now, they will enjoy something new, a bye in the first round of the playoffs. On July 28th they will host the lowest remaining seed at Concordia University-St. Paul’s Seafoam Stadium.

Note: The Pioneers honored all active duty members of the military, as well as veterans, before and during the game Saturday as the team held its first annual Military Appreciation Day. An Honor Guard from a local VFW post and the Minnesota National Guard helped make the day a rousing success.