high school football: Pioneer offense struggles in 28-7 loss to Birmingham Brother Rice
The Pioneers held a 7-0 lead and had held the powerful Warrior-offense to just 75 yards.
Once the second half started, things took a turn for the worse.
Though the Pioneer defense stood firm for the majority of the game, giving up 234 yards total and forcing three turnovers, They gave up 28 second-half points in the 28-7 loss.
“We played so well in the first half, and so lousy in the second half,” said head coach Paul Test. “
“In the second half, we gave up a lot of big plays on third and long,” said Test. “We were crisper in the first half than we have been so far this year. You got to be consistent the whole game when you’re playing this caliber team.”
“They just came out ready to play and we didn’t come out as ready,” said defensive back Dewan Olive-Abinojar who had an interception. “It showed in the second half.”
The turning point came midway through the third quarter. After the Pioneer defense recovered a fumble on its own 30-yard-line, the Jason Alessi intercepted an Aedan York pass and returned it to the Pioneer 11.
Brother Rice (1-1) scored three plays later to tie the game. Four minutes later, the Warriors scored again and never looked back.
“We made a turnover and put them in a position to score. They just took the momentum from there,” York said. “We were just slipping downhill the whole game and could never get back on our feet.”
For the second week in a row, the Pioneer offense couldn't put enough points on the board to keep the team close.
The Pioneers (0-2) managed just 188 yards of offense, 78 of which came on their only touchdown of the game.
Late in the first quarter, York handed off to Anthony Radu on a sweep. Radu stopped, set his feet and found KeSean Hugan wide open down field.
“Coach (Mike) Glennie had a couple wrinkles for them in the first half,” Test said of his offensive coordinator. “You have to always have a little bit of that, but against good teams, you definitely have to do that.”
It was the lone highlight of the night offensively for the Pioneers.
York’s frustration with the offense was evident after the game.
“We need to keep our composure and keep working all game. It’s a long game, 48 minutes,” York said. “It’s not just one play, one possession.”
York finished the game 10-of-26 passing for 80 yards and one interception.
Brian Walker scored three times for Brother Rice, and had another called back by an illegal procedure penalty. Walker finished with 55 yards on 17 carries and the three scores.
The Pioneers had a chance to tie the game early in the fourth quarter after recovering a fumble on the Brother Rice 39-yard-line to open the quarter. After getting inside the Warriors 30-yard-line, the offense stalled and Pioneer turned the ball over on downs.
Brother Rice put the game away on the following possession when Cheyne Lacanaria found his brother Corey Lacanaria for a 28-yard touchdown pass with 6:32 left in the game.
After a slow start, Cheyne finished 8-of-13 for 156 yards, with one touchdown and an interception
As disappointed as he was with the loss, Test still sees his team as a contender as the season continues. But it’s going to take some work.
“We have to get better at the little things. We gotta catch the ball, we gotta protect better, we have to run our bread-and-butter plays more consistently on offense. We’re not there yet, but we’re working hard.”