Pioneer FB rallies, caps season with victory

Kirt Manion, Cherry Road Media

If a season has to come to an end, the hope is that it ends on a high note and after an exciting game.

Nebraska City checked both of those items from the to-do list by rallying from behind to take a 27-26 win over visiting Lincoln Christian on Friday, Oct. 22, a triumph which appropriately capped a 6-3 season.

The momentum swung Lincoln Christian’s way early in the contest. Nebraska City kicked and covered an on-side kick, but was forced to turn it over on downs to the visitors who struck back quickly with a 63-yard rush to take a 6-0 lead.

Nebraska City responded with a 76-yard drive featuring Bayler Poston runs of 21, 20 and 16 yards. All of that led to a Poston three-yard run and Eddie Gonzalez added the point after. It was 7-6 in favor of the Pioneers.

A 42-yard touchdown run and two-point rush put Lincoln Christian up 14-7. The Crusaders forced a Pioneer punt and launched another scoring drive capped by a six-yard run and the score was at 20-7.

Nebraska City was forced to punt again and Lincoln Christian drove into Pioneer territory before a block in the back call had them in long yardage. The Crusaders turned the ball over on downs.

Even after the stop, it appeared Lincoln Christian would have a 13-point lead and control of the momentum at half.

Lincoln Christian would then decide to see what its offense could produce in the late going of the first half and didn’t end up liking the result as Pioneer defender Austin Sterling intercepted a pass and returned it to the Lincoln Christian 13-yard line, setting up an MJ Nelson to Bradon Thompson 13-yard score and Gonzalez kick to make it 20-14 at intermission.

Nebraska City was foiled by penalties on its first drive of the second half. The first penalty wiped out a 59-yard touchdown run by Poston. The second stopped a first down completion to Chris Blum. And the Pioneers had to punt.

Fortunately, Nebraska City got the ball back and went on an 86-yard drive to tie the score. Half of the yardage came on a Poston touchdown run.

Lincoln Christian answered to re-claim the lead in the third quarter. A 53-yard drive ended in a three-yard run and failed point after. It was 26-20 in favor of Lincoln Christian with 1:09 left in the period.

Nebraska City went on a scoring drive which stretched from the third to the fourth quarters. A 39-yard pass from Nelson to Nyuon Thuokok set up Poston for a 14-yard run and a Gonzalez kick which made it 27-26.

Lincoln Christian turned the ball over on downs on its next possession which set up the Pioneers to run out the clock. The home team moved the ball but was forced to punt. Kalan Fritch would then come up huge for the Pioneers by fielding a tough snap on his punt attempt and kicking the ball 42 yards to the Lincoln Christian 13 yard line.

The Crusaders began to march, but were slowed and then stopped by a Blum interception which sealed the Pioneer win at 27-26.

Looking at the numbers, Nebraska City was actually out-gained on offense by the count of 370-258. Lincoln Christian had all its yards on the ground as opposed to Nebraska City’s 192 on the ground and 66 through the air. Poston rushed for 207 yards, but due to negative plays in other areas, the team’s total rush yards were lower.

Gonzalez, by virtue of point afters, and Fritch with an amazing punt, could be considered the players of the game. The only point after which failed for the Pioneers was due to a bad exchange between the center and holder.

Bayler Poston rushed for three scores in the Pioneers' win on Friday, Oct. 22.