By PATRICK SLACK
The Pierz football team had three chances to break through with a game-changing touchdown inside host Holdingford’s 5-yard line, Sept. 7.
But three times the Huskers’ defense came up with stops, leading to a 12-7 win over the defending Central Minnesota Conference (CMC) champion Pioneers in the conference opener for both teams.
“Teams don’t win many games by failing to score inside the 5-yard line three times,” Pierz head coach Leo Pohlkamp said. “We turned the ball over four times so obviously that was the difference in the game.”
Following a scoreless first quarter, junior Jordan Gombos gave Holdingford a 6-0 lead on a 2-yard run two minutes into the second.
However, Pierz marched right back down the field, taking the lead when senior Ben Boser found senior Josh Lanners for an 18-yard touchdown pass, followed by an extra point by senior Travis Johnson.
Pierz maintained that 7-6 lead into the third quarter, but Holdingford regained the edge on a 5-yard touchdown toss from junior Mitch Messman to senior Taylor Milbrandt.
The Huskers defense clamped down from there, protecting their 12-7 lead to open up the CMC season with a win.
“Up to this point in our season, our defense has become the identity of our football team,” Holdingford head coach Luke Mitchell said. “Pierz was able to get to inside our 5-yard line three times. Twice we recovered fumbles and once our defense made a goal-line stand. We were very proud of our players for that.”
Senior T.J. Hoheisel and Lanners each made six catches for 69 yards, with Lanners also rushing for 82 yards on 18 carries.
Junior Andy Kapsner made five solo tackles and assisted on five others, with Johnson recovering a fumble.
The Huskers were led on the ground by senior Jon Skwira, who compiled 73 yards on 12 attempts.
Senior Cody Schwinghammer made three receptions for 25 yards and junior Mitch Messman racked up 115 yards of total offense.
“Our offense was able to move the ball better because our offensive line played better,” Mitchell said. “We rushed for 194 yards and we made enough plays to keep drives going at important times. We know that Pierz is a terrific football team with a lot of great players and our players were excited to compete at that level.”
Holdingford 12, Pierz 7
Pierz 0 7 0 0 – 7
Holdingford 0 6 6 0 – 12
HOLD: Jordan Gombos 2 run (kick blocked), 9:46
PZ: Josh Lanners 18 pass from Ben Boser (Travis Johnson kick), 4:18
HOLD: Taylor Milbrandt 5 pass from Mitch Messman (run failed), 5:52
Pierz—Rushing: Josh Lanners, 18-82; Nathan Athman, 7-19; Tyler Millner, 4-12; Ben Boser, 6-10; Andy Kapsner, 2-2. Passing: Ben Boser, 14-24, 174. Receiving: T.J. Hoheisel, 6-69; Lanners, 6-69; Millner, 1-29; Brady Dorn, 1-7. Defense: Kapsner, 5 solo tackles, 5 assists; Lanners, 1 interception; Travis Johnson, 1 fumble recovery.
Holdingford—Rushing: Jon Skwira, 12-73; Mitch Messman, 17-61; Jordan Gombos, 8-45; Cody Bialka, 4-17. Passing: Messman, 5-11, 54. Receiving: Cody Schwinghammer, 3-25; Milbrandt, 2-29.