By Matthew Davis
Terry Jones saw opportunity knocking during punt plays throughout the day against the Lake Superior Rage on Saturday.
“We had been talking about blocking it for a while, but I’m used to blocking guys and going down field, but I figured, ‘why not,’” Jones said.
When the Rage threatened to stay unbeaten as they pulled within a point on a floating, fourth-down touchdown pass, necessity met opportunity. Jones, a Pioneers team captain and defensive back, made his move on the following Rage fourth down – a punt.
“That guard was kicking down, he wouldn’t reach out, so I knew if I did line up there, he wouldn’t reach,” Jones said. “I got on my horse trying to get it, and it almost went out of bounds on me.”
Jones knocked the ball up the air, and it fell into his hands as he burst for the end zone and a game-securing touchdown. His score gave the Pioneers a 20-12 lead late in the third quarter, a quiet offensive quarter for the Pioneers. Their offensive drives had ended in punts and a turnover. The Rage scored once and cut the Pioneers lead to 13-12 in the meantime.
“The blocked punt was absolutely huge, a huge momentum swing,” Pioneers coach Mark Heiser said.
Pioneers quarterback Cleveland McCoy followed up the on the momentum two offensive drives later with a pin-point touchdown pass. In addition, the defense made the stop they needed in winning over the once-unbeaten Rage 26-18.
“This win was big, it was probably one of the biggest wins we needed all year,” Jones said.
Jones has made his share of impact plays prior to Saturday. He came into the game as the team’s interception leader with three.
Jones also felt at home in an unusual way with the cold, fall-like weather at Concordia University’s Sea Foam Stadium. He played for the Golden Bears prior to becoming a Pioneer in 2007.
“It kind of did,” Jones said about the weather conditions.
Breidall shuts the door
Pioneers linebacker Phillip Breidall delivered exactly what his team needed when the Rage threatened to tie.
The Rage had scored on their last trip to the red zone and hadn’t been denied since the first half when they’ve been inside the Pioneers 20. A fourth down separated the Rage from the Pioneers being potentially knotted up at 26-26.
Breidall lined up against the Rage receiver across from him and blocked the pass to him in the end zone, which ended the drive. The Pioneers ran out the clock after retaining possession.
“He did a corner route, I read it, jumped it, and swatted it,” Breidall said.
Breidall has played defense only for a few years. He played a running back or fullback until his junior season at Southwest Minnesota State. He switched to linebacker in his senior season. He came to the Pioneers in 2012.