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Saturday, May 16, 2015

Pioneers defense, special teams help overwhelm Sting

Quarterback Cleve McCoy threw two touchdown passes -- one to Delane Woods and one to Davarus Branigan -- and the Pioneers' defense and special teams got in on the scoring in a 31-7 victory over the Minnesota Sting at East Ridge High School in Woodbury.

Cleve McCoy on the run.
Linebacker Dominique Young and defensive tackle Brandon Murdock scored second half touchdowns -- Young's on a blocked punt and Murdock's on a fumble return -- to help the Pioneers pull away in the second half. St. Paul led 10-0 at halftime.

Kicker Eric Ellestad nailed a 35-yard field goal for the Pioneers' other points.

The Sting scored their points on an interception return for a touchdown.

Delane Woods with the touchdown.
St. Paul is now off for the Memorial Day holiday weekend and will resume play May 30th, with an away game against the Twin Cities Titans. The Pioneers are now 4-0 overall and 2-0 in the NEFL.

Eric Elleson hits a field goal.
Players of the Game:
Offense - Riza Mahmoud, running back.
Defense - Brandon Murdock.
Special Teams - Dominique Young.

Donte Pettis rips the ball away.

Brandon Murdock and Dominique Young.

Jeff McGaster greets a fan.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Pioneers top Bulls 44-18 in league opener

At the end of the first quarter Saturday, the St. Paul Pioneers were in unfamiliar territory.

They were losing, 6-0 to a physical and determined North Bank Bulls squad.

McCoy hit Miles for two TDs.
That unfamiliar feeling would not last. Cleve McCoy, the Pioneers’ do-everything quarterback, would go on to throw five touchdown passes and the Pioneers’ defense, led by swarming safeties Donte Pettis and Joseph Mapson, would batter and harass the Bulls along the way to a 44-18 victory in Cottage Grove.

North Bank battled all game long, showing an effective passing attack – when quarterback Brett Schreiner wasn’t picking himself up from the turf after a sack or a hit by Jeff McGaster, Antonio O’Neil, Rob Wills, Caleb Huls or Brandon Murdock. But, in the end, St. Paul got the ball back enough times, with multiple interceptions by Pettis and Mapson, to let McCoy and the offense go to work.

Johnson scored a rushing TD.
McCoy, who played collegiately at South Carolina State, has so far this season continued his impressive play from the national championship game in Daytona last January. He hit receivers Justin Miles and Delane Woods with two touchdown passes each and tossed another to Wills. McCoy finished the game 20 of 28 passing, for 334 yards and 5 touchdowns.

Woods finished with 4 receptions for 149 yards and the two scores. Miles had 3 receptions for 71 yards and two scores.

Kicker Eric Ellestad, a former University of Minnesota Golden Gopher, hit a 23-yard field goal at the end of the first half.

Running back Vernon Johnson scored on a run late in the fourth quarter to put the exclamation point on the victory.

The game was St. Paul’s league opener. The Pioneers are now 3-0 on the 2015 season, 1-0 in the always-tough Northern Elite Football League.

Players of the Game:
Offense – Receiver Tristan Smith, who had six receptions for 62 yards in his best game as a Pioneer.
Defense – Donte Pettis, who had two interceptions (one called back) and multiple big hits.

Special Teams – Vince Furby, with a couple of long kick returns.

Please join the Pioneers next week as they travel to East Ridge High School in Woodbury to take on the Minnesota Sting.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Pioneers Top Blaze in early battle of National Champions

They hadn't lost a game in four years - including beating the Pioneers once in each of the past two seasons.

But the Des Moines Blaze was facing a determined St. Paul squad Saturday in the third annual Capital City Classic.

After all, it was last year's loss in Des Moines that propelled the Pioneers to reel off 11 straight wins, capture a fifth straight NEFL title and a third National Championship.
Ronald Zollicoffer had two scores.

St. Paul defeated Des Moines 21-7, relying on a suffocating defense and a workmanlike offense in a showdown of two of the nation's best semipro football teams.

Quarterback Cleve McCoy threw two touchdown passes, to Delane Woods and Ronald Zollicoffer, and the Pioneers' defense kept the Blaze offense out of the end zone.

Coaches Randy Johnson and Kahn Powell

Check back here for a more detailed story and game stats later this week.

Players of the Game:
Offense - McCoy.
Defense - Strong safety Donte Pettis (int, sack).
Special teams - Joseph Mapson.