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Pioneers keep it rolling in league opener

Sandy scores five first-half touchdowns in 33-12 win over Rex Putnam


by: SANDY POST: PARKER LEE - Sandy QB Spencer Barrett rolls out to find an open receiver during Fridays win to start the NWOC season.One of Sandy’s biggest goals going into Friday’s contest against Rex Putnam was to get out to a fast start. Mission accomplished.

The Pioneers overwhelmed Putnam in all three phases of the game in the first half as they stormed to a 33-12 victory in the Northwest Oregon Conference opener.

“We knew we had to be ready from the get-go,” Sandy coach Joe Polamalu said. “We had to come out strong. I think our boys were really ready to get going. I’m really proud of how they went out there and just got after it.”

Sandy’s offense, defense and special teams all came to play, and it was that complete effort that allowed the Pioneers to punish the Kingsmen. As was the case in Sandy’s two preseason games, the defense led the way and the other units followed. The Pioneers halted Putnam on its first two possessions and forced punts without surrendering a first down.

On Putnam’s second punt attempt, Sandy’s special teams unit broke the scoreless tie. The snap from the Putnam center floated past punter Josey Swain and rolled into the end zone. Swain chased the bouncing ball and picked it up, but Sandy’s Garrett Rotzien was there to take him down for the safety.

Sandy returned the subsequent kickoff to the 35-yard line of the Kingsmen. The Pioneers moved it up 10 yards on the first few plays of the series, then the coaching staff called for the long ball. From the 25-yard line, Sandy quarterback Spencer Barnett dropped back and lobbed a bomb to Ryan Skidmore who was racing down the right sideline facing one-on-one coverage. Skidmore crossed the goal line, leaped, reached over the head of the cornerback and secured the ball for the touchdown.

Things only got worse for the Kingsmen. On the second play of their next drive, a pair of Pioneers hit Putnam running back Richie Seratt and jarred the ball loose. Sandy’s Andrew Funk slid in and pounced on the ball to give the Pioneers great field position. The Pioneers went back to the air offensively and Barnett again hooked up with Skidmore, this time for a 35-yard strike that went all the way to the Putnam 3-yard line. Barnett took it in from there on a keeper to give the Pioneers a 16-0 lead at the end of the opening quarter.

In the second quarter, the Kingsmen saw every one of their possessions end horrifically, compliments of Sandy’s defense and special teams. Sandy ended Putnam’s first series with an interception. On Putnam’s second drive, Sandy’s Jeremy Funk busted through the line on the second play and leveled the quarterback, causing a fumble in the backfield. Sandy linebacker Tryston Closner scooped it up and rumbled down the field for a 48-yard touchdown.

Sandy forced Putnam into a three-and-out on the following possession. The Pioneers blocked the punt and took over at the Putnam 12-yard line, setting up a Barnett touchdown run from two yards out.

Closner and Rotzien intercepted passes on the next two Putnam drives. Rotzien’s pick came with 58 seconds left in the first half at the 25-yard line of the Kingsmen. Sandy ran down the clock and kicker Wyatt Edwards split the uprights for a 32-yard field goal as time expired, giving the Pioneers a 33-0 lead at the half.

“I don’t know if we really talk about turnovers too much,” Polamalu said. “Our players play tough and play hard, and those things happen when we play all-out, all the time.”

In the first half, the Pioneers caused a safety, five turnovers and blocked a punt. Sandy coasted in the second half and didn’t score again, but the game was decided in the first half.

Barnett had his best game of the season as he threw for 132 yards on 12-for-20 passing. He had three total touchdowns, one through the air and two on the ground. Skidmore had three catches for 72 yards to lead the receiving corps. Sandy improved to 3-0 with the win.