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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Pioneers win again, beat outnumbered Rage

St. Paul Pioneers running back Isaac Odim might be the best player who never talks about himself.


Odim lets his play do the talking.
Check that. The Pioneers have another running back who doesn't say much, simply letting his play do the talking. Riza Mahmoud.

Both running backs were on full display Saturday, joining in with a punishing, unrelenting defense to throttle the undermanned Lake Superior Rage 42-12, helping the Pioneers stay in first place in the Minnesota Division of the NEFL.

Odim, who starred at the University of Minnesota Duluth, had 123 yards and two touchdowns on just 10 carries to pace the Pioneers offense. Mahmoud, a former North Dakota player, was not far behind, gaining 88 yards and scoring a touchdown rushing and another on a kick return. Both backs have been dominant all season, working behind a seasoned offensive line. On Saturday, though, they picked it up a notch.

Mahmoud always plays well against the Rage.
Both teams were short players for this game. The Pioneers defense, which allowed only one touchdown on the day, brought only 17 players north. The Rage, fighting shorthanded all season, ended the game with only 17 players total.

"I was really, really proud of how our defense picked up their swagger and dominated," said Jim Walsh, the Pioneers defensive line coach and fill-in defensive coordinator Saturday. "But I was also very impressed with how hard the Rage battled and never gave up."

Lake Superior battled indeed, trailing the Pioneers by only 14-6 at halftime. The second half, through, would be a different story. The Rage would score again, on a return of an attempted onside kick, but otherwise would not threaten in the second half. St. Paul rode touchdowns by Odim, Mahmoud, fullback Andy Folz and running back Vernon Johnson in taking over the game in the second half.

The Pioneers defense was smothering. Safeties Nate Beulah and Jake Lindsey grabbed interceptions. Linebacker Bill Quistorff led the unit emotionally, seemingly covering the entire field. Linebackers Darrel Young and Phil Breidall also played well.

Please join the Pioneers Saturday at SeaFoam Stadium as they take on the North Bank Bulls in a rematch of an earlier Pioneers victory in Cottage Grove. The game will be Girl Scouts Day for the Pioneers, and all Girl Scouts will be admitted free of charge. Kickoff at Concordia University-St. Paul is set for 5 p.m.

Players of the Game:

Offense: Odim.
Defense: Quistorff.
Special Teams: Ronald Zollicoffer.

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