By PATRICK SLACK
The Pierz football team churned out 310 rushing yards to power past host Melrose Area 28-7 in its season opener, Aug. 31.
Junior Nathan Athman scored the Pioneers’ first touchdown of the year midway through the opening quarter from three yards out as Pierz took a 7-0 lead.
Senior Josh Lanners crossed the goal line twice from one and four yards out in the second quarter to give Pierz a 21-0 advantage at halftime, then Athman scored his second touchdown with 5:22 to play in the fourth quarter on a 5-yard run to make it 28-0.
Melrose Area prevented the shutout with a 50-yard touchdown pass with four minutes to play.
Junior Tyler Millner finished as the leading rusher for Pierz, carrying the ball 16 times for 124 yards, with Athman adding 80 yards on 14 carries and Lanners recording 73 yards on 11 rushes while also catching two passes for 49 yards.
Senior Jon Fuhrman contributed a combined 71 yards of offense and senior Ben Boser completed 4-of-7 passes for 92 yards.
Nick Lochner led the stout Pierz defensive front with three sacks and a pair of solo tackles.
Senior Travis Johnson was a perfect 4-for-4 on extra points.
“Melrose provided a very good test in our opener,” Pierz head coach Leo Pohlkamp said. “They were very athletic. We did a lot of things very well but we still found out that we have a lot of things to work on.”
Pierz 28, Melrose Area 7
Pierz 7 14 0 7 – 28
Melrose Area 0 0 0 7 – 7
PZ: Nathan Athman 3 run (Travis Johnson kick), 6:32
PZ: Josh Lanners 1 run (Johnson kick), 8:35
PZ: Lanners 4 run (Johnson kick), 0:57
PZ: Athman 5 run (Johnson kick), 5:22
MEL: Noll 50 pass from Sawyer (kick), 4:16
Pierz—Rushing: Tyler Millner, 16-124; Athman, 14-80; Lanners, 11-73; Jon Fuhrman, 7-39; Andy Kapsner, 3-6. Passing: Ben Boser: 4-7, 92. Receiving: Lanners, 2-49; Fuhrman, 1-32; T.J. Hoheisel, 1-11. Defense: Lanners, 5 solo, 4 assists, 1 sack; Athman, 2 solo, 10 assists; Nick Lochner, 2 solo, 3 assists, 3 sacks.