Pioneers power to victory

Jonathan Alder wasn’t necessarily at its very best during a non-league game with visiting Marion Harding Friday night, Sept. 1.

But the Pioneers were strong enough in the run game and on the defensive side of the ball to pull away from the Presidents, 21-7 and improve to 2-0 on the season.

Alder again got on the back of bulldozing running back Jamie Dye and rode him, the offensive line and the bruising defense to an important if less-than-spectacular win.

“We found a way, we made a lot of stops,” Alder coach Brett Glass said. “We found a way to win and that’s the best way to describe the night. We’ve got a lot to work on, but it’s a lot easier to work on stuff when you walk out with a W.”

Alder opened the scoring in the first quarter when quarterback Preston Eisnaugle hooked up with Bryan Blacka on a 24-yard scoring strike. A successful PAT by Ethan Gordin made it 7-0. Just before the half Dye, a physical back with a non-stop motor, plowed his way through a wave of Harding defenders breaking a handful of tackles on a 11-yard scoring run just before the half. The Pioneers led 14-0 at the break.

“Our defense was able to make some huge stands down there, our offense I told them at halftime, there’s no other way to say it we played pretty bad there in the first half,” Glass said. “We were still lucky enough to score points, but a lot of that was because of our defense.”

On three separate occasions in the first half Harding marched into Alder territory but was turned away by the Pioneers defense.

The first time the Presidents advanced to the Alder 20 and attempted a 37-yard field goal. But the Harding holder botched the snap and was forced to roll out. He tossed a pass which was complete but the Pioneers stopped the receiver just short of the first down marker.

The ensuing possession ended with a 3-and-out for Alder and the Presidents started its next drive at their own 46-yard line. They advanced to the Alder 23-yard line but was stopped on a 4th-and-2, giving the ball back to the Pioneers.

On another possession in the second quarter Harding was again in Alder territory, but this time Brennan Blain stepped in front of a screen pass for an interception which he returned to the Presidents’ 31-yard line.

“Brennan Blain made a huge one-hand interception, I was hoping he could get in (to the endzone) but it was a huge play,” the coach said.

Alder struggled to throw the ball, but the Pioneers know what they need to do when all else fails.

“We’re going to be as good as our offensive line, I always preach that,” Glass said. “We’ve got good skill kids and a great quarterback, but we’re going to hammer the ball when we can and when we have to. That was in our back pocket tonight and had a couple guys have good runs.”

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Jonathan Alder junior Brennan Blain (50) races down field after an interception during the second quarter of the Pioneers home game with Marion Harding Friday, Sept. 1. Alder junior Brennan Blain (50) races down field after an interception during the second quarter of the Pioneers home game with Marion Harding Friday, Sept. 1. Jay Gehres | Gehres Photography

By Chris Miles

Reach Chris Miles at 740-852-1616, ext. 1618 or via Twitter @MadPressSports.