PIERZ -- The balanced offensive attack wasn't pioneered in Pierz, but the Pioneers worked it to perfection as they dismantled the Eden Valley-Watkins Eagles' defense for a 28-7 Central Minnesota Conference football victory Friday.
Running back Nick Senn and quarterback Dan Saehr combined for 378 of Pierz's 449 total offensive yards and three touchdowns.
The Pierz offensive line created huge openings for Senn, who gained 215 yards on 33 carries and vast throwing lanes for Saehr who threw for 163 yards with 11-of-18 passing and one touchdown. Saehr also rushed for a score.
"Last year Senn never got any carries because as a junior he was behind Trevor Gross who's playing at Central Lakes (College) and Chris Young who was just a workhorse," said Pierz head coach Leo Pohlkamp. "He never really got any carries.
"So he's coming in here this year and he's just getting his confidence. If there was a surprise to this team it would be him."
On paper it was supposed to be a close game as both teams came into the game with 3-2 overall records, but that's why paper is recyclable as the Pioneers won all facets of the game.
With the running game having already established a 14-0 lead off a Senn 59-yard run and Mark Popping 39-yard reverse, the Pioneers went to the air to keep EV-W honest. What Pierz found was a cheating Eagles secondary playing the run as Saehr found John Kahl wide open for a 20-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter.
With his Barry Sanders-like touchdown run under his belt, Poepping hooked up with Saehr to catch six passes and 108 yards to give Pierz a balanced offensive attack
"Mark Poepping had a nice game for a sophomore," said Pohlkamp. "He got us going early. That was a beautiful reverse. That was all on his own. He's got some God-given talent."
In the third quarter Saehr kept the ball himself, diving for a 1-yard score with 39 seconds left to give Pierz a 28-0 lead.
The big story was the Pioneers' smothering defense, which picked off sophomore quarterback Chad Henfling four times. Senn intercepted one of those passes and also recovered a fumble.
Pierz's defense held the Eagles to 193 total offensive yards and just 10 first downs. The Eagles only gained 44 yards on the ground.
Pierz's man-to-man secondary kept an Eagles team, which had five touchdown passes in their last game against unbeaten Holdingford, in check.
"We play man-to-man and I know what they did to Holdingford," said Pohlkamp. "Holdingford runs a very good zone. But they will not come out of that zone. We play man, which is a good defense against the pass. We take pride in that. We match up receivers.
"We knew they were going to do a three-step drop. We got a little bit of pressure on them. Our defense came up with big plays and that was the key for us."
Poepping intercepted Henfling at the Eagles' 15 to stop a possible scoring drive that lasted 12 plays in the second quarter.
Chris Gross and Chad Schmidtbauer each had an interception as well for Pierz.
"This is a big win for us," said Senn, who has gone over the 100-yard rushing mark four times this year. "We wanted to win this game, We have two big games coming up and we want a high seed going into the playoffs so we need to win them both."
Eden Valley-Watkins 7 7 14 0 -- 28
Pierz 0 0 0 7 -- 7
P-Nick Senn 58 run (Austin Krohn kick) 4:36
P-Mark Poepping 39 run (Krohn kick) 7:59
P-John Kuhl 20 pass from Dan Saehr (Krohn kick) 2:30
P-Saehr 1 run (Krohn kick) .39
Erik Hendricks 5 pass from Chad Henfling (Aaron Tri kick) 6:15
First downs -- P 18, EVW 10
Rushes-yards -- P 48-286, EVW 17-44
Pass comp-att-int-yards -- P 11-19-0-163, EVW 10-34-149
Total offense -- P 449, EVW 193
Fumbles-lost -- P 3-1, EVW 2-1
Penalties-yards lost -- P 5-30, EVW 5-55
Rushing -- Nick Senn 33-215, Nate Senn 8-11, Mark Poepping 1-39, Joe Funk 2-3, Brad Leidenfrost 2-7, Dan Saehr 2-1
Passing -- Saehr 11-18-163; EV-W Chad Henfling 8-28-94
Receiving -- Mark Poepping 6-108, Chris Gross 2-7, Sam Kasper 2-28, John Kahl 1-20
Conference -- P 4-1. Overall -- P 4-2. Next game -- Pierz at Rockford 7 p.m. Friday.
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