Before the brawl, Pioneer wins share of SEC Red title with 35-6 win over rival Huron
Daniel Brenner | AnnArbor.com
Marquise Thomas ran for 163 yards and three touchdowns as the Pioneers racked up 233 yards rushing on the night.
“I was proud of the boys and the way we played against a cross-town rival,” said Pioneer head coach Paul Test. “They (Huron) had nothing to lose and everything to gain and we beat them 35-6.”
Pioneer scored on five of its six possessions, only failing to score on the game's final possession when it took a knee to run out the clock.
“The running game was good, we threw play action well tonight,” Test said.
The Pioneers opened the game with a 12-play 71-yard drive that lasted 7:55. The drive was capped by a 14-yard touchdown run by Thomas.
It was more of the same on the next two drives as quarterback Brandon Bertoia added touchdown runs of one and three yards giving the Pioneers a 21-0 lead at the break.
Bertoia started the game for the Pioneers because the regular starter, Aedan York, is out for at least the next three weeks after breaking his left hand last week against Monroe.
“(Bertoia’s) execution and ball-handling was great. He was able to throw the ball a little bit too,” Test said. “The kids believe in him.”
Of the 24 minutes of clock used in the first half, Pioneer possessed the ball for 17:32. Huron ran just nine offensive plays in the half.
As the second half started, Pioneer recovered an onside kick. Seven plays later, Thomas punched it in from one yard out.
As they have for most the season, the River Rats didn’t go down quietly as they responded with a 13-play 78-yard drive of their own that ended with Josh Jackson hitting Demetrius Sims for an 11-yard touchdown pass.
The Rats would then recover an onside kick of their own. However they would eventually turn the ball over on downs ending any chance of a comeback.
With the win Pioneer clinched a share of the SEC Red title and is now 5-3 overall (5-1 SEC Red) on the year and can clinch a playoff berth next week when they visit Livonia Franklin. While he isn’t happy is team needs to win to secure a spot in the playoffs, he says his team is ready for challenge.
“I told my wife this, I’m trying to enjoy for at least a day, this victory. We’re city champs, we’re SEC league champs and we have a chance to get in the playoffs next week,” Test said.
Huron is winless on the season falling to 0-8 (0-6 SEC) on the year.
After the game there was a brawl on the field involving players and coaches from both teams. One player was taken to the hospital for stitches, but no arrests were made. Ann Arbor Police are investigating the incident.
Matt Durr covers sports for AnnArbor.com.