The Pioneers stay unbeaten after Fridays 14-6 win at Wilson

by: SANDY POST: PARKER LEE - Sandys Carter Knox breaks a few tackles during the opening kickoff FridayFor three-and-a-half quarters on Friday night, the Sandy football team was on the ropes at Wilson. The Pioneers played it off as if that was their plan all along.

Sandy fought from behind to score two touchdowns in the final seven minutes to stun Wilson, 14-6.

“More than anything else, we talk with the kids about responding to tough situations, and that is in everything in life, not just football,” Sandy coach Joe Polamalu said. “They showed me a lot in their fortitude to keep working.”

The Pioneers trailed 6-0 for most the game, but they stayed patient on offense and made some monumental defensive stops to stay in it. That paid huge dividends in the later stages of the contest.

With two minutes left in the third quarter, Wilson faced a fourth-and-three from the Sandy 8-yard line. The Trojans decided against a field-goal attempt and went for the first down. The Pioneers stuffed the run up the middle for no gain to give the ball back to the offense.

With a new life, the Sandy offense methodically moved down the field with combination of rushes by running backs Andrew Funk and C.J. McKinnis on the read option. That backfield duo pushed the Pioneers all the way to the Wilson 20-yard line. Sandy mixed it up with a pass play and quarterback Spencer Barnett hit receiver Cody Welty for a 19-yard completion to set up first-and-goal from a yard out. McKinnis then punched it in and Andrew Spencer booted in the extra point to give the Pioneers a 7-6 edge. The drive went for 92 yards and took more than 8:30 off the clock.

Wilson took over with 6:25 remaining and advanced the ball into Sandy territory. Once the Trojans crossed midfield, the Sandy defense clamped down and forced Wilson into a fourth-and-12 situation from the 40-yard line. Wilson tried to catch Sandy sleeping with a double reverse, but the Pioneers weren’t fooled. They caused Wilson to fumble and recovered at the midfield stripe with 3:30 left.

After handing off on another read option to start the drive, Barnett and the offense had the Trojans right where they wanted them. Sandy ran yet another read option on second down, but this time, Barnett kept it for the first time. The whole Wilson defense followed the running back to the left while Barnett scampered down the field to the right. He was barely touched on his way to a 47-yard touchdown.

“He made a great read and it was a great effort,” Polamalu said. “When you get that opportunity, you’ve got to pop on it.”

Spencer tacked on the extra point to make it 14-6. The ensuing kickoff sailed into the end zone for a touchback, giving Wilson the ball at the 20-yard line with 2:35. The Trojans’ final drive ended when Sandy’s Carson Dwyre reeled in an interception along the Sandy sideline with 1:44 left. The Sandy offense came in and ran out the clock.

The patience of the Pioneers on offense got them over the hump in the end. However, the defensive effort won them the game. After allowing a touchdown on its first series, the Sandy defense adjusted. The Pioneers limited big runs by Wilson running back Tyler Lunceford, who ran at will on the first drive.

“They were doing some things that left us high-and-dry,” Polamalu said. “Our players gave us feedback on what was working, and we made some changes that helped us.”

Every time Sandy needed a stop, someone stepped up and made it. Dwyre’s pick in the fourth sealed the game, but Sandy came up with an equally-important one late in the second quarter. With less than a minute until halftime, defensive back Hunter Rowe intercepted a Wilson pass inside the Sandy 10-yard line to keep the Pioneers within one score. Sandy forced five turnovers in the game.

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