The Pioneers headed down to Adrian – a tough place to play for a visiting team – still feeling a little bruised and battered from their rough loss a week earlier to Saline.
But give credit to head coach Bill Bellers, the coaching staff and especially the players for hitting the road with a purpose. It’s so much easier to quit and surrender than stand and fight and the Pioneers have clearly chosen the tougher assignment.
The playoffs are most likely out of reach but the Pioneers played like they had something to play for and knocked off the Maples 22-0 on Friday.
Pioneer improved to 4-4 on the season and look to finish with a winning record on Friday at Ypsilanti. The Maples fall to 3-5.
“It was a nice win,” said Bellers who earlier in the week said the Pioneers’ goal was to finish with a winning record – something the Pioneers did not pull off last year. “We really played well, especially our defense.”
The Pioneers moved the ball on offense to open the game but then stumbled with consecutive sacks. Facing a third and 30, quarterback Nate Yuhas tossed a pass to DaNeko Harris who was able to pick up the first down and keep the chains moving.
Yuhas then tossed a screen pass to Harris, who did the rest to give the Pioneers an early lead over the Maples.
After a defensive stop, Pioneer got the ball back and drove all the way down to the 1-yard line but could not get the last three feet and turned the ball over on downs.
But the defense created a couple points of its own when junior Komarus Hatch and senior Jordan Hall tackled the Adrian ball carrier in the end zone for a safety and a 9-0 Pioneer advantage.
Pioneer led 9-0 at halftime.
The Pioneers’ offense was able to move the ball until it got close to the goal line.
“Three separate times we got down to the 1-yard line and couldn’t score,” Bellers said. “But our defense was outstanding all night long. Can’t emphasis enough how well they played.”
After a nice drive down the field, converting a couple third-down plays, Yuhas hit senior Lael Onifade on a touchdown pass for the Pioneer’s third score of the game.
The defense continued to play well in the second half, creating a couple of sacks and getting the ball right back into the offense’s hands.
It only took one play for the Pioneers to score again, this time on a long pass from Yuhas to junior Logan Jacobs.
“Everybody got to play and we shut them out so it was a real nice team win,” Bellers said. “We shot ourselves in the foot a few times on offense but we were able to overcome them. The guys are definitely excited about the win.”
Ypsilanti went into their game with Saline on Friday night with a 3-4 record. The Grizzlies lost to Adrian 15-12 earlier in the season.