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Monday, June 30, 2014

Pioneers Outplay Sting in Woodbury

By Cassie Kickert

On a day filled with rain, in a season seemingly dominated by rain, the St. Paul Pioneers used the strong legs of their running backs and the power of their offensive line and defense to top the Minnesota Sting in a battle for first place in the Minnesota Division of the NEFL.

The outcome of the game – a 41-12 Pioneers victory – not only wrapped up the division for St. Paul, but it had implications for farther down the road in the playoffs as well. The Pioneers are now two games ahead of the Sting in the standings, important for playoff seeding. But the Pioneers also are keeping an eye on the Fox Valley Force in Wisconsin for the number one seed in the NEFL. As a result, extra importance is attached to every point scored and allowed from this point on.

The Pioneers running game – and defense – took care of the Sting.

Devin Waters recovers a fumble.
Despite the rain, running back Ronald Zollicoffer ran the Sting’s first punt all the way back for a touchdown. Then, the Sting made a mistake. They fumbled and Pioneers defensive lineman Devin Waters snatched the ball off the ground. His fumble recovery led to another touchdown – another run, this time by fullback Daryl Davis. Just like that, the score was 13-0 Pioneers.

Then, it was time for running back Isaac Odim to do what he does best —run straight through the defense for yet another Pioneers touchdown. The Sting would squeeze in a field goal before halftime after a Pioneers fumble.

Odim kept the motor going in the third quarter when he ran about 70 yards for another touchdown. The Sting would come back with a score of their own, courtesy of Jauhem Byrd.

How does Odim dominate game after game?  Odim gives credit to his offensive line.
“I say this was the best game they’ve {the offensive line} had all year.  They were doing a great job opening holes.  As a running back, if you’re not getting touched until you get to the linebackers, that’s always a good thing.  {Tonight} we were able to consistently pound the ball.”

Isaac Odim finds room to run.
About halfway through the third quarter, a bad snap on a Pioneers punt gave the Sting a safety. Then, the score was 27-12. The Sting would not score again, thanks to the Pioneers defense. The defensive line -- Jeff McGaster, Ed Smith, Waters, Wes Gadient and Brandon Murdock – hammered and harassed the Sting all game long.
In the fourth quarter, running back Riza Mahmoud decided not to let Odim have all the fun. Mahmoud dashed to the end zone on a draw play. And, then, it was Odim’s turn to put up the final points with the last of his three touchdowns. The final score: 41-12 Pioneers.

Odim said the Pioneers’ rivalry with the Minnesota Sting is “definitely a good one.  I’m glad we were able to step up in the fourth quarter and finish it out.”
The win was the Pioneers’ second over the Sting this season. St. Paul beat them earlier at SeaFoam Stadium 49-20. In three games against the Sting, dating back to the 2012 season, the Pioneers have outscored them 136-32.

Odim gained 239 yards on 23 carries. He now has 840 yards and 15 touchdowns in all games this season. He and Pioneers back Riza Mahmoud, who has 659 yards rushing and 6 touchdowns, lead the NEFL
The offensive line -- CJ Sanderson, Zac Thompson, Cory Huggar, Thomas Broussard, Scott Schmidt, Shannon Johnson, Alex Christen, Tyrese Brent and Jose Munguia – earned praise from Head Coach Mark Heiser.

“Our line played great,” he said. “When we needed them to step up, they had a monster game.”

The Pioneers are off for the fourth of July.  But they are now looking for a new opponent to play at Sea Foam Stadium July 12, after the Cedar Valley Charge had to cancel their trip to Minnesota. Any team willing to play is asked to contact Pioneers Head Coach/General Manager Mark Heiser at mark@pioneersfootball.org. Or call 651-300-4365.
Players of the game:
Offense- Isaac Odim.
Defense- Devin Waters.
Special Teams- Ronald Zellicoffer.

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