PIERZ — The praise will rightfully go to Josh Lanners. Some should trickle down to the Pierz Pioneers’ offensive line, too.
But the difference in Friday’s Central Minnesota Conference clash between the Pierz Pioneers and Eden Valley-Watkins was two late fourth quarter interceptions. The picks sealed Pierz’ 47-27 win.
Up until Pierz’s Ben Boser and Brad Meyer stepped in front of the intended Eagles’ receivers, Pierz didn’t have an answer for EV-W’s passing game.
Eagles’ quarterback Nick Pauly dissected the Pierz defense for 238 yards and two touchdowns on 21-of-32 passing before the two interceptions.
“That first half they really took it to us with their air attack,” said Boser. “The second half we made a couple of little adjustments and it ended up paying off for us. Coach (Dan) Saehr had us go man and I knew I was going to get my break and I saw a guy breaking out into a post and I just jumped it. It ended up in my hands.”
Even after Pierz secured a 34-27 lead at 9:39 of the fourth quarter, things didn’t feel in hand for the Pioneers. That didn’t happen until Boser, a senior captain, picked off Pauly on the Eagles’ ensuing possession that Pierz was able to finally take a breath.
Three players later, Lanners scored from 21 yards out to make it 40-27.
But still, things weren’t for certain. That didn’t happen until Brad Meyer picked a Pauly pass out of the air after it was deflected and returned it to the Eagles’ 20. Two plays later Nathan Athman scored from 16 yards for the final score.
“The key to the game were those two interceptions,” said Pierz Head Coach Leo Pohlkamp. “They didn’t stop us and we didn’t stop them. It finally came to the point where we needed to make a couple of stops and we got the plays.”
Up until that point, Pierz and the Eagles were trading touchdowns using differing styles. Pierz rushed the ball 67 times for 488 yards. Lanners accounted for 288 of those yards on 36 carries. He finished 10 yards shy of a school record. Fullback Nathan Athman carried the ball 16 times for 114 yards.
Lanners scored on runs of 28, 1, 1, 2, 1 and 21 yards. He also picked off Pauly in the first half.
“Josh is an animal,” said Boser. “If one guy is in the hole, he’ll make them miss. And thanks to our linemen, they open the holes. Josh is a great runner and all the respect to him, and he would agree with me on this, but we wouldn’t be anything without our offensive linemen.”
Boser was praising his line after his only running play of the game. On fourth and 4 in the third quarter, Boser scrambled out of the pocket and then took off running for a first down. That play helped set up Lanners’ 2-yard TD run.
“It wasn’t a designed run for me, but just a little waggle action designed to get me out of the pocket and look for my fullback in the flats,” said Boser. “I saw him covered and saw a guy trailing behind him so I just saw an open lane and took it and ended up getting 23 yards.”
The Eagles entered the game 0-4, but Boser called them the best 0-4 team in the area, especially in the conference. And as with any rivalry game, throw out the records.
“They have a lot of pride down there,” said Pohlkamp. “They came close against Rockford and against Maple Lake. After watching film on them I told my guys, ‘They are going to beat somebody.’ You can just see it. Their quarterback did a nice job. I don’t care what level you’re at, his percentage was outstanding. I don’t care what class or level.
“It really was a fun game. It was exciting for the fans.”
Eden Valley-Watkins 0 13 14 0 — 27
Pierz 7 14 7 19 — 47
Prz-Josh Lanners 28 run (Travis Johnson kick) 9:02
Prz-Lanners 1 run (Johnson kick) 11:58
EVW-Alex Geislinger 1 run (Jared Steit kick) 8:45
EVW-Brent Stenger 5 pass from Nick Pauly (kick blocked) 5:20
Prz-Lanners 1 run (Johnson kick) 1:43
EVW-Geislinger 3 run (Austin Pelkey pass from Pauly) 7:53
Prz-Lanners 2 run (Johnson kick) 4:01
EVW-Cain Renner 30 pass from Pauly (kick failed) 1:23
Prz-Lanners 1 run (kick failed) 9:39
Prz-Lanners 21 run (kick failed) 4:50
Prz-Nathan Athman (Johnson kick) 3:27
Rushes-yards: Prz 67-488, EVW 14-32
Pass comp-att-int-yds: Prz 2-7-1-25, EVW 22-34-3-241
Total offense: Prz 74-513, EVW 48-273
Rushing: Prz-Josh Lanners 36-288, Nathan Athman 16-114, Robbie Skiba 7-57, Ben Boser 1-23, Jon Fuhrman 2-6, Chris Ortman 2-6, Brandon Sullivan 1-0; EVW-Zach Blonigen 5-21
Passing: Prz-Boser 2-7-25; EVW-Nick Pauly 22-34-241
Receiving: Prz-T.J. Hoheisel 1-13, Lanners 1-12; Austin Pelkey 6-35, Cain Renner 6-82, Brent Stenger 5-51, Alex Geislinger 5-73