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Sandy football team firing on all cylinders as they dominate Gresham at home

The visiting Sandy High School football team swung first and hard as they beat a struggling Gresham team 34-6 on Thursday, Sept. 29.PMG PHOTO: ANGEL ROSAS  - Sandy's running game came out strong with two rushing touchdowns on the day.

It was evident that the Gophers were going to struggle on offense in their first possession of the game. Pinned deep near their own 20 yard line, Gresham's QB Jaxon Doving gave up an easy interception to Sandy DB Diego Rios.

Sandy's defense was a menace on field for the Gophers. From making some third down stops, getting to the quarterback and snagging interceptions, the Pioneers played every down like it was fourth-and-goal. With the defense holding its own, the Sandy offense took advantage of good field position on occasion and capitalized.

The Pioneers found the scoreboard first as running back Rashied McCallister muscled his way in for touchdown on a short run. The Gophers would respond with Doving stringing together several passes to Giovanni Romero and Zach McNaughton. Gresham's strong push down the field ended in a three-and-out as Sandy's bend-don't-break defense denied any passage into their red zone.

"To play that well on defense and special teams, you are going to be in every one of these games," said Sandy head coach Josh Dill. PMG PHOTO: ANGEL ROSAS - Gresham's passsing game struggled throughout Thrusday's game against Sandy, with Gopher quarterbacks giving up several interceptions.

The Pioneers defense picked up a few points of their own as Payton Giusto carried two interceptions to the house, one coming all the way back from the Sandy's own end zone. Another Sandy touchdown came from running back Cole Rotzien, which closed the half with the Pioneers on top 19-0.

To start the second half with some intensity, Sandy's Garrett Willenberg would take the kickoff return to the endzone for touchdown making it a 27-0 lead for the visiting Pioneers.

The rest of the half was relatively quiet as Gresham's offense struggled to get any kind of groove going. The Gophers defense applied some of Sandy's methodology, allowing the Pioneers to get down the field, but keeping them out of the end zone.

"It was one of those grind-them-out kind of offensive games," Dill said. "Hats off to Gresham, they kept battling and nothing was easy tonight that is for sure."

Giusto's pick-six at the goal line ended any hope of the Gophers making a comeback.

"I was just going through my progressions and when I saw the ball come out, I knew I could get it. Once I got the ball and had my guy Keontae Johnson blocking, I knew I was gone," said Giusto about his pick-six. PMG PHOTO: ANGEL ROSAS - The Pioneer's defense was dominate througout the game, only allowing Gresham one touchdown it last few minutes of the game.

In their last possession, the Gophers marched down the field off the legs of Calanie Buss. An amazing catch from Gresham's Ryan Radford gave the game its final score of 34-6.

The Pioneers travel to take on Clackamas at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 6. Gresham is also away, traveling to face Central Catholic at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 6.

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