If the Pioneers were struggling to find their gear on offense earlier in the year, consider it found. Behind the strong arm of sophomore QB Conor Easthope, Pioneer raced to a 32-6 halftime lead over rival Huron Friday night and never looked back in a 48-6 win.
The Pioneers improved to 3-1 after losing their first game of the season. Huron falls to 0-4 on the year.
Pioneer put on quite the offensive performance in the first half. The Pioneers, who only punted once in the first two quarters, had 271 yards of total offense to 135 for the River Rats. Easthope was 10 of 17 passing for 233 yards and five TD passes in just the first half.
VIDEO: Watch Pioneer’s opening TD at http://weloveannarbor.com/2018/09/14/video-pioneer-scores-a-touchdown-to-take-a-6-0-lead-over-huron/
WATCH IT: Catch all the action of Friday’s game on CTN at 4 p.m. on Saturday
He had a few favorite targets. Michael McMullen had four catches for 123 yards and Logan Jacobs had three grabs for 106 yards.
The Pioneers turned their first drive of the game into six points after forcing a Huron punt early in the first quarter. Under pressure, Easthope threw a 5-yard TD pass to Joel Pingel on a crossing pattern in the end zone to make it 6-0 with 6:53 left in the first quarter.
The River Rats had more success on their second drive but a sack by David Corey ended the drive near midfield and forced a punt.
Pioneer went big play for its second TD of the night. Easthope, facing a big rush coming right at him, held his ground and fired a pass to Jacobs. The senior made the catch and raced the rest of the way down the sideline for a 65-yard score and a 12-0 lead with 39 seconds left in the first quarter.
Huron’s Jaylin Matthews set his team up near midfield with an excellent kick return. A 48-yard pass from Assane Ka to Ibraheem Joseph took the ball to the Pioneer 9-yard line and the River Rats were in business inside the red zone.
But Pioneer’s defense was up to the task. A sack by Yeahoon Lee and Dennis Simmons pushed Huron back on third down. And then a nice defensive play on a pass play by DB Geffen Peterson-Sand ended the drive at the 15-yard line.
Pioneer struck quickly. On the first play after the defensive stop, Easthope threw a pass to a wide open McMullen that went for 85 yards and a Pioneer TD to push the lead to 18-0 with 10:17 left to play in the first half.
The River Rats got on the board with 8:14 left in the second quarter. Ka, running the option, spotted a wide open Joseph down the field and the senior took it to the house on a 60-yard TD pass to cut the lead to 18-6. The two-point conversion failed.
The Pioneers answered when they got the ball back. After getting a first down on fourth and eight, Easthope threw a 15-yard pass to Daneko Harris for a score. Tierney Fraidenburg kicked the extra point to make it 25-6 with 3:09 left in the half.
Huron’s Tyree Hill had a nice sack late in the first half.
With just 46 seconds left on the clock, Pioneer scored again. Easthope hit Jacobs on a 25-yard TD pass. Fraidenburg again hit the extra point to make it 32-6 at the half.
Defense and even a few turnovers dominated the second half.
Mamadou Diop had an interception for Pioneer. Huron’s Cameron Donell had a pick in the end zone to end a Pioneer drive.
With 4:32 left in the third quarter, the Pioneers added two points with a safety.
On the following kickoff, McMullen went the distance for a TD. Fraidenburg kicked the extra point and the Pioneers led 41-6. The score also started a running clock.
Torian Jones scored on a 20-yard TD run late in the game to make it 48-6.
The Pioneers are off to Bedford, who got its first win last week 40-20 over Pinckney. With a win, the Pioneers would be 4-1 heading into the Saline game on Sept. 28 and two wins from securing a playoff spot.
Huron plays at Monroe on Friday.