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SECTION 6-2A FOOTBALL: Pierz closes down Mainstreeters Pioneers advance to ninth state tournament

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FARGO — Josh Lanners rushed for five yards on the opening play of the Section 6-2A final Friday.

It was all Pierz from that point on as the top-seeded Pioneers dissected the seventh-seeded Sauk Centre Mainstreeters for a 28-0 victory to advance to the program’s ninth state football tournament.

Pierz used three time-consuming drives and an interception to score its four touchdowns and held Sauk Centre to 44 yards of offense on just 36 plays.

“Our kids were just well prepared,” said Pierz head coach Leo Pohlkamp. “We just ran Sauk Centre’s plays over and over again in practice. I was concerned defensively. I figured we could score. This is probably the best defensive game we’ve played all year. What a great time to do it.”

Pierz opened the game with an 11-play, 49-yard drive that was capped off by Nathan Tomala’s 1-yard TD run. It was the senior fullback’s fifth 1-yard touchdown run of the playoffs.

The Pioneers kept their methodical approach on their first drive of the second quarter. This time Josh Lanners punctuated a 10-play, 70-yard drive with a 14-yard touchdown run for a 14-0 Pierz advantage.

Class 2A’s seventh-ranked Pioneers accumulated 11 first downs in the first half.

“Our offensive line came to play today,” said Lanners, who finished with 138 yards rushing on 24 carries. “All week we just kept working and preparing. They just pushed them back and opened holes for me to run through. All the credit goes to those guys.”

While Pierz’s offense was surgical, its defense was in attack mode. Tomala and Andy Kapsner tallied sacks. Tyler Millner picked off a pass and Pierz held the Mainstreeters to 19 yards on 17 plays. Sauk Centre picked up just two first downs and both were aided by Pierz’ penalties.

“On Sauk Centre’s first series that ran that sweep play to No. 35 (Roosevelt Austin) and Lanners just came up and stopped it immediately,” said Pohlkamp. “That’s just instincts. He just had a great game defensively and he also ran the ball well, too.”

Pierz chipped away at the Sauk Centre defense on its first possession of the second half. Lanners scored this time from 3 yards out to finish off an eight-play, 54-yard drive that was helped by a 15-yard Sauk Centre penalty for a 21-0 advantage.

Pierz’s Preston Weber started and ended the Pioneers next scoring drive. The senior picked off the Mainstreeters’ Patrick Knoblauch and returned it to the Sauk Center 7. Three plays later Weber scored from a yard out.

Nathan Athman added a sack in the second half as Pierz held the Mainstreeters to just 44 yards for the game. It’s the Pioneers third shutout of the season and second of the playoffs. It also helped improve Pierz’s record at the Fargodome to 5-1.

“Danny Sahr our defensive coordinator gave us the film on these guys and we watched it over and over,” said Lanners. “No. 35 was their bread and butter so we just keyed on him. If anybody else ran the ball we just picked them up.

“Last year we didn’t make it here and it was a big let down. The seniors really wanted to come here and so we just worked hard and the seniors just kept us going.”

Sauk Centre 0 0 0 0 — 0

Pierz 7 7 14 0 — 28

First quarter

Prz-Nathan Tomala 1 run (Brad Trapp kick) 7:00

Second quarter

Prz-Josh Lanners 14 run (Trapp kick) 7:13

Third quarter

Prz-Lanners 3 run (Trapp kick) 6:36

Prz-Preston Weber 1 run (Trapp kick) 3:38

Team statistics

Rushes-yards: Prz 55-249, SC 27-29

Pass comp-att-int-yards: Prz 1-5-1-27, SC 2-9-2-15

Total offense: Prz 60-276, SC 36-44

Individual statistics

Rushing: Prz-Josh Lanners 24-138, Tyler Millner 8-37, Nathan Tomala 8-25, Preston Weber 2-2, Robert Kowalzek 10-34, Nathan Athman 3-13; SC-Cody Bartkowicz 4-2, Roosevelt Austin 11-39, Michael Knoblauch 4-9, Terrence Ellis 2-0, Patrick Knoblauch 5-(-22), Austin Landkammer 1-1

Passing: Prz-Weber 1-5-27; SC-Patrick Knoblauch 2-9-15

Receiving: Prz-Logan Meyer 1-27; SC-Austin 1-5, Derek Holm 1-10

JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at or 855-5856.