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Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Keaton, Pioneers Pound Titans

By Cassie Kickert

The Pioneers and Titans only played one half of a game Saturday in Mounds View. One half was all it took.
Despite severe weather shortening the game, the Pioneers still put on quite a show – on offense and defense – winning 34-0 to go to 4-1 overall and 3-0 in the NEFL.

DE Devin Waters and the Pioneers defense dominated.
 It started,with the defense. On the second play of the game, defensive lineman Jeff McGaster intercepted Titans quarterback Shanon Capers and took it in for a touchdown. It was McGaster’s third interception as a Pioneer, but first touchdown off a pick.

All game long, the Pioneers defense harassed Capers. Defensive end Devin Waters ended drives and snuffed Titans’ chances with three sacks on the day. Cornerback Brock Keaton, named defensive player of the game, had two acrobatic interceptions, giving him three picks in five games this season.

Keaton has been a nemesis for opposing offenses in 2014, breaking up numerous passes and generally making life miserable for opposing receivers. Thanks to his exploits Saturday, he is tied for the league lead in interceptions. On Saturday, Keaton basically stole the ball from the Titans receiver for his first interception in the game.

Brock Keaton had two interceptions in the game.
When Keaton was asked how he ripped the ball out, he just said he wanted it more. He was hungry for the ball. In addition, he gives credit for his play to his teammates and said that “we are working really well together.”

Taking advantage of field position, turnovers and a physical game plan, the Pioneers offense found a spark of its own – mainly in its running game, courtesy of running backs Isaac Odim and Riza Mahmoud and an offensive line that played with aggression and passion.

After numerous runs got the Pioneers into the Red Zone, quarterback Cleveland McCoy found Damien Lolar in the back of the end zone for a touchdown.

On the next Pioneers possession, Mahmoud scored on a dash up the middle to make the score 21-0 Pioneers at the end of the first quarter. Mahmoud, who had more than 100 yards on the ground in just the half, was named offensive player of the game.

Offensive Coordinator Anthony Minus had his squad clicking.
In the second quarter, the Pioneers got back to work. After a rare Pioneers turnover, defensive back Lionel Lamarre took the ball right back with his first interception of the season. The Pioneers took advantage when Odim ran in for another touchdown. Since rejoining the Pioneers, Odim, like Keaton, has been on a tear. Thus far this season, Odim already has seven touchdowns along with 332 yards rushing on just 36 carries.

When asked how he stayed in such great shape while taking a year off to pursue a graduate degree, Odim said:
Isaac Odim escapes.

“Fitness is a passion of mine, so I continued to work out even when I wasn’t playing for the Pioneers. I played some flag football in my free time too, and once I came back to Minneapolis, I got back into some more football-specific training to get ready for the season. I want[ed] to stay injury-free and improve my explosiveness, so that’s what most of my training [was] geared toward.”

After the Titans went nowhere on their next possession, Mahmoud decided it was time to stretch his legs. He returned the Titans punt all the way for another touchdown. A bad snap caused a missed extra point, however, making the score 34-0 Pioneers.

LB Tierre Thompson was named special teams player of the game.
The rain and lightning took over at that point. Once Pioneers coaches, players and staff saw lightning, the only prevailing thought was to get to halftime. By league rules, if a game is called before halftime, it is ruled a ‘no contest’. If it’s called at or after halftime, the Pioneers could claim the victory.

As a result, making it to halftime became the goal. The final score: 34-0 Pioneers.

Next, the Pioneers face the Minnesota Sting and former Pioneer quarterback Michael Spriggs at Seafoam Stadium this Saturday, June 7th. The winner will claim sole possession of first place in the Minnesota Division. It is sure to be a spectacular game! Hope to see you all there!

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