By PATRICK SLACK
Five different players ran for touchdowns.
With the way the Pierz offensive line manhandled Pine City’s front, though, it probably wouldn’t have really mattered much which back got the ball.
The fourth-seeded Pioneers imposed their will from the opening whistle, scoring on their first seven offensive possessions as they overpowered the visiting fifth-seeded Dragons 48-6 in Tuesday’s opening round of the Section 5AAA tournament.
“We really dominated the line of scrimmage tonight on both sides of the ball,” Pierz head coach Leo Pohlkamp said. “Our backs ran very hard and our line opened up big holes consistently. We seem to be playing our best football at the right time of the year.”
Pierz turned to ultra-reliable red zone option Nathan Athman on its first drive, as the senior fullback plowed in from a yard out, then had senior Tyler Millner sprint to the end zone from 77 yards away to make it 14-0.
Junior Robbie Skiba, Millner and sophomore Jonny Kasper added rushing touchdowns to extend the gap to 35-0 by halftime, then Skiba and sophomore Nick Herold ran for scores in the third quarter before the Pierz attack finally let up.
Millner rushed for 143 yards and Skiba produced 81 to power the Pierz offense, with Athman collecting 54 and Herold picking up 50.
Junior Ethan Lochner completed his only pass of the night for 34 yards to junior Beau Winscher to help set up the Pioneers’ opening touchdown.
Senior safety Chris Ortman had an interception and freshman Matt Kummet picked off a pass and recovered a fumble.
Senior Tomas Roquemen was a perfect 6-for-6 on extra points.
Pierz moves on to face top-seeded Foley in the section semifinals Saturday at 7 p.m.
The Falcons received a bye in the first round and will enter with a 6-2 record, while the Pioneers are now 6-3.
Pierz 48, Pine City 6
Pine City 0 0 6 0 – 6 Pierz 21 14 13 0 – 48
PZ: Nathan Athman 1 run (Tomas Roquemen kick), 6:40.
PZ: Tyler Millner 77 run (Roquemen kick), 4:55.
PZ: Robbie Skiba 9 run (Roquemen kick), 0:12.
PZ: Millner 35 run (Roquemen kick), 7:28.
PZ: Jonny Kasper 14 run (Roquemen kick), 1:40.
PZ: Skiba 50 run (Roquemen kick), 11:41.
PZ: Nick Herold 23 run (kick failed), 5:37.
PC: Carr 9 pass from Hansmann (pass failed), 3:08.
Pierz—Rushing: Tyler Millner: 7-143; Robbie Skiba: 5-81; Nathan Athman: 11-54; Nick Herold: 9-50; Jonny Kasper: 3-16; Brett Kapsner: 3-9; Nathan Girtz: 2-2. Passing: Ethan Lochner: 1-1, 34. Receiving: Beau Winscher: 1-34. Defense: Matt Kummet: interception, fumble recovery; Chris Ortman, interception.
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