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Area Football: Pioneers gut out victory

Pierz 35, EV-W 20 Key: Pierz rattled off 19-play, 9-minute drive in second half Conf: Prz 2-1, EVW 2-1 Overall: Prz 3-1, EVW 3-1 Next: Pierz at Howard Lake-Waverly 7 p.m. Friday PIERZ--Even with splashes of flash, it was grind-it-out football tha...

Kelly Humphrey/Brainerd Dispatch Pierz’s Lane Girtz runs the ball Friday against Eden Valley-Watkins. (Gallery)
Kelly Humphrey/Brainerd Dispatch Pierz’s Lane Girtz runs the ball Friday against Eden Valley-Watkins. (Gallery)

Pierz 35, EV-W 20

Key: Pierz rattled off 19-play, 9-minute drive in second half

Conf: Prz 2-1, EVW 2-1

Overall: Prz 3-1, EVW 3-1

Next: Pierz at Howard Lake-Waverly 7 p.m. Friday

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PIERZ-Even with splashes of flash, it was grind-it-out football that pushed Pierz to a 35-20 victory Friday.

Owning a 28-14 lead over rival Eden Valley-Watkins, the Pioneers regained possession on their own 5 with 3:04 remaining in the third quarter. Seven plays later the quarter concluded with Pierz still in possession with a first and 10 on its own 38. Six minutes and 12 plays later, Carson Huls was in the end zone from a yard out and Pierz built its lead to 35-14.

"That was a great sign for a young line," said Girtz. "We only had that one penalty at the end. That's what kills drives is penalties and we were just blocking guys one-on-one and running right up the gut. If they could stop us they could stop us, but we were just trying to eat some clock and get it done."

Pierz was 2-of-3 on third downs, including a 21-yard run by Brandon Ortman on third and 13. The Pioneers were 1-for-1 on fourth down conversions during the drive as Lane Girtz rushed for 5 yards on a fourth-and-one play.

"That's the ballgame," said Pierz head coach Leo Pohlkamp. "I just thought, we were up 28-14 and then all we needed to do was take care of the ball and punch in another one. Our offensive linemen are starting to come. Lines, those are the last thing to come together. We plugged in new kids and it takes time to work and I'm proud of them. They're starting to get it."

Pierz opened the second half with Girtz bursting through the line and zig-zagging for a 46-yard touchdown on the Pioneers' first play of the half. It was Girtz's 80-yard kickoff return in the second quarter that really turned the tide, however.

After back-to-back EV-W touchdowns tied the score 14-14, Girtz took the ensuing kickoff and found the end zone to turn the momentum back in Pierz's favor.

"The call was up the middle and I started in that direction, but then I saw that the guy lost contain so I bounced it out and had open field," said Girtz. "That helped a lot. You could kind of see them tilt their heads down. They weren't lying down, but then we got a big stop on defense and had that long drive and that was good."

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Girtz finished with 119 rushing yards and the two touchdowns on 24 carries. It was the speed of Derick Hall and Brandon Ortman that handed the Pioneers a 14-0 first quarter lead.

On Pierz's second possession, Hall sprinted around the edge and found daylight for a 19-yard touchdown run. Two possessions later Ortman cracked off a 23-yard touchdown run.

But an already depleted Pierz roster saw even more injuries as senior captain Brett Kapsner left with a shoulder injury. Logan Lease picked up the slack with two sacks and nine tackles. Benjamin Herold added an interception for the 3-1 Pioneers.

"I think our younger players realize now that injuries can happen in a heartbeat," said Girtz. "Anyone can go down and they're over there on the sidelines and you never know when you're going to get called in. They have to be ready to step up and fill some big shoes."

Eden Valley-W 0 14 0 6-20

Pierz 14 7 7 7-35

First quarter

Prz-Derick Hall 19 run (kick failed) 7:55

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Prz-Brandon Ortman 23 run (Matt Kummet pass from Preston Rocheleau) 2:15

Second quarter

EVW-Markell York-Rameriz 1 run (jacob Streit kick) 10:52

EVW-Streit 18 pass from Reese Jensen (Streit kick) 5:04

Prz-Lane Girtz 80 kickoff return (Rocheleau kick) 4:51

Third quarter

Prz-Girtz 46 run (Rocheleau kick) 9:44

Fourth quarter

Prz-Carson Huls 1 run (Rocheleau kick) 5:52

EVW-Streit 21 pass from Jensen (kick failed) 3:48

Team statistics

Rushes-yards: Prz 52-281, EVW 29-55

Pass comp-att-int-yds: Prz 1-3-0-(-1), EVW 12-27-1-172

Total offense: Prz 55-280, EVW 56-227

Individual leaders

Rushing: Prz-Lane Girtz 24-119, Derick Hall 10-62, Cohlton Boser 6-24, Brandon Ortman 7-69, Carson Huls 4-9, Preston Rocheleau 1-(-2) ; EVW-Markell York-Rameriz 15-61, jamison Kuechle 3-9, Matt Schindler 3-5, Reese Jensen 8-(-19)

Passing: Prz-Rocheleau 1-3-(-1) ; EVW-Jensen 12-27-172

Receiving: Prz-Logan Lease 1-(-1) ; EVW-Kuechle 3-69, Schindler 3-26, Greg Lux 2-23, Streit 4-54

Kelly Humphrey/Brainerd Dispatch A rainbow shows up over the Pierz football team as they get ready to take the field Friday against Eden Valley-Watkins. (Gallery)
Kelly Humphrey/Brainerd Dispatch A rainbow shows up over the Pierz football team as they get ready to take the field Friday against Eden Valley-Watkins. (Gallery)

Related Topics: PIERZ PIONEERS
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