Football: Early mistakes doom Pioneer in season-opening loss to Anchor Bay

The fans at Pioneer’s Hollway Field erupted as Pioneer running back Brian Robinson broke off a 51-yard run on the season’s first play from scrimmage.

Three plays later, what figured to be a great start for the Pioneers was flipped upside down when New Baltimore Anchor Bay senior John Sowards intercepted a screen pass and returned it 87 yards for a touchdown.

This momentum swing was symbolic of Pioneer’s night: one that showed potential, but ultimately fell flat in its 37-14 loss to Anchor Bay.

Trailing 6-0 on its second drive, Pioneer again showed promise, moving the ball into Anchor Bay territory with two Robinson runs after a long kick return. The drive stalled however when Robinson was stymied in the backfield on third-and-2, forcing the Pioneers to punt.

Anchor Bay doubled its lead with a 12 play, 67-yard scoring drive that was extended when Pioneer jumped offsides on fourth-and-1, giving the Tars new life in Pioneer territory. Six plays later, Anchor Bay quarterback Luke Hall rolled right and found sophomore Drew Schornak in the endzone for a 9-yard touchdown.

Including the 9-yard touchdown, the Tars converted two third downs on the drive, both over three yards.

Early in the second quarter, Pioneer took over at the Tars’ 38-yard line after a botched snap on a punt. Looking to cut the Anchor Bay lead to one score, Pioneer dug itself a bigger hole when quarterback Grant Nelson’s pass was intercepted and returned for a touchdown, extending the Tars’ lead to 19-0 with 7:55 remaining in the first half.

After Pioneer’s next drive fizzled, Anchor Bay senior Ben Hanson scored an 8-yard touchdown in the final minutes of the half. The Tars led Pioneer 25-0 at halftime.

Things briefly looked up for the Pioneers when they returned a fumble for a touchdown early in the third quarter. Vincent Robison converted the PAT, cutting Anchor Bay’s lead to 25-7.

Any chance of a Pioneer comeback was effectively gone after Anchor Bay scored on a 9 play, 52-yard drive following the fumble. Hall scored on a 1-yard quarterback keeper to give the Tars a 31-7 lead with 4:59 remaining in the third quarter.

Pioneer scored a late touchdown with an 8 play, 75-yard drive that culminated in a 25-yard rushing score for Nelson. Pioneer junior Samuel Bonasso spearheaded the drive, running for 53 yards on five carriers including a 16-yard run on third-and-9.