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Monday, June 29, 2015

Pioneers Beat Titans 56-0

It’s starting to look familiar, this territory the St. Paul Pioneers now occupy. It’s looking an awful lot like last year, or, more accurately, 2012, when the team in Cardinal and Black finished its only undefeated season with a national title in Daytona Beach, Fla.

The Pioneers have won three national championships -- in 2009, 2012 and 2014. But only one followed an undefeated season. Could this be another?

On Saturday, the Pioneers dispatched an undermanned but feisty Twin Cities Titans squad 56-0 at SeaFoam Stadium in St. Paul. With the win, the Pioneers improved to 9-0 on the season, further distancing themselves from any potential contenders in the Minnesota Division of the NEFL. With only two games to play, and only one against a division opponent, the Pioneers are guaranteed the top seed in the west for the start of the playoffs.

It didn’t take the Pioneers long to exert their will in this one, jumping to a 7-0 lead on a Cleve McCoy to Delane Woods touchdown on St. Paul’s first drive. It would be 14-0 only a minute or so later, as punt returner Ronald Zollicoffer returned a Titans’ kick for a touchdown. Riza Mahmoud made it 21-0 on the next possession, running the ball into the end zone. Mahmoud leads the NEFL in rushing and is once again having a great season for a team that has outscored its opponents 392-77 in 2015.

The defense got in on the scoring again on another Titans punt, this time with linebacker Ernest Tucker returning a fumbled snap by the Titans’ punter for a touchdown.  The former running back from the University of Minnesota-Morris had no trouble figuring out what to do with the ball, as he waltzed into the end zone and increased the lead to 28-0 in the first quarter.

The Titans? They finally earned a first down on the final play of the first quarter. They would not gain another first down until there were about 2 minutes left in the first half. Their struggles were not hard to understand. The team that plays its home games at Robbinsdale Cooper High School traveled to the Pioneers with only 24 players in uniform.

St. Paul continued its march, with quarterback McCoy running it in himself on a draw to stretch the Pioneers’ first-half lead to 35-0. 

Donte Pettis continued his big play ways, recording an interception to set up a Pioneers score and prowling the secondary with ferocity. His pick helped set up another Pioneers score -- McCoy to TE Davarus Branigan to make it 42-0 at the half.

Defensive back Marvin Desir snared an interception to kill any Titans chance to score before halftime.

The second half saw quarterback Bryan Trulen take over for McCoy – and the Pioneers defense continue its domination.

Defensive tackle Jeff McGaster, picked up a half sack to give him a season total of 12.5 sacks. Defensive end Rob Wills also had a sack, after picking up 3.5 last week. Brandon Murdock, another defensive tackle, also had a sack. CJ Sanderson, normally an offensive tackle, got in on the sack parade as well. Linebacker Bill Quistorff and defensive end Alex Folkerds also had a half sack each.

McGaster was having so much fun on defense, he decided to try his hand at offense in the third quarter, bulling into the end zone as a fullback and giving the Pioneers a 49-0 lead.
St. Paul completed its scoring when Trulen hit wideout Mike Dozier on a slant pattern for a 56-0 lead. And defensive tackle Tyrese Brent saved the shutout by blocking a Titans field goal on the last play of the game.

The Pioneers are off now for Independence Day, but return to SeaFoam on July 11 for a noon kickoff against the Menomonie Thunderhawks.

Players of the Game:

Offense - Cleve McCoy, with two td passes and a touchdown on the ground.
Defense - Donte Pettis interception and several tackles.
Special Teams - Demario Walton, with multiple tackles.

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