FLORA — No. 9-ranked Pioneer wasn’t holding anything back when it went into Cougar Country as the Panthers defeated Carroll 41-6 Friday in the semifinal round of Class A Sectional 42.
The Panthers (9-2) took the opening kickoff and marched 61 yards on eight plays for a quick 8-0 lead with quarterback Sam Kiser scoring from 14 yards. Carroll then had the ball, and three plays later defensive back Keith Nies intercepted a pass from Carroll quarterback Jared Miller, giving the ball to Pioneer on Carroll’s 19-yard line. Four plays later, Pioneer’s Justin Mersch ran in from 11 yards to give the Panthers a 14-0 lead with 4:19 left in the first quarter.
Pioneer kept up its dominance on defense, not allowing Carroll a first down until its third possession, and that was on a Pioneer penalty.
After two turnovers by Pioneer, Carroll finally got the ball down to Pioneer’s 3-yard line, but the drive stalled as the Cougars were unable to convert on a fourth and goal. It was like that mostly for Carroll in the first three quarters.
“Defensively, I was very happy with the way we performed,” Pioneer coach Mike Johnson said. “Carroll is a very good offensive team. The Cougars have won five of their last six ballgames, been scoring some points, and they are a very good power running team with good backs. For us to be able to stop the run, I was really pleased. Hat’s off to our defensive coaches and our guys on the defensive side.”
Pioneer’s offense added two more touchdowns in the first half. The first one was a 28-yard run by Tyler Hanna and the second one was a 55-yard run by Mersch. Pioneer led 28-0 at halftime.
“They’re not ranked ninth in the state for no reason,” Carroll coach Steve Keown said. “They are a good football team. It seemed like we came out a little shell-shocked. They hit the big pass on us. We had a turnover, and the first series I thought we had it stopped, but Kiser breaks contain and scores, and we never recovered from it.”