Pioneers struggle early, late in game, lose to Hempfield

Even the most loyal Pioneers Football fan had to be worried early in the team's season opener at Hempfield Friday night. On the second play Hempfield running back Will Blair easily ran the ball in from 58 yards out to give the Knights a 7-0 lead. Then the Pioneers responded ... by going three-and-out and handing the ball back to Hempfield.

After an uneventful and scoreless 16 minutes of play, L-S was set to stall again in the red zone, and a visibly frustrated Bear Shank left the field as the field goal unit entered to take the easy 3 points. And in a huge break for the Pioneers, the Black Knights were penalized for roughing the kicker, and L-S had a second chance. 
The Pioneers opened their season
with a loss to the Hempfield Black Knights,

This brings me to Shane Lawler, easily one of the most impressive players on the field for the Pioneers tonight. A three yard TD run after the penalty was just the start. The game went to half tied 7-7 after a Hempfield missed field goal, but clearly Lawler was not satisfied. After the Pioneers allowed Hempfield to march down the field and score, Lawler ran the ensuing kickoff back all the way to the 2 yard line and later plowed in for the score, again tying the game. His tenacity, speed, and power helped the Pioneers stay in the game despite many mental errors such as penalties, missed tackles, missed blocks, and poor rushing defense. Without Lawler, this game would have certainly been much more out of reach. 

The game didn't stay tied for much longer. Hempfield and L-S both scored before the end of the third quarter, but 20 unanswered points in the fourth quarter by the Knights ultimately proved to be too much for the Pioneers, and Hempfield won 41-21.
The L-S Pioneer Marching Band
performed at halftime
Photo courtesy of Mr. John Lines

On the bright side, L-S was clearly the underdog in this game, and according to many experts, was over-matched and destined to lose. Nevertheless, the loss is a setback. Key players for L-S include obviously Lawler but also Darren Metz, who caught an 85-yard touchdown. Quarterback Bear Shank also played admirably despite an interception while under pressure late in the fourth quarter. He accumulated 226 yards and threw one touchdown. 

Although many football coaches believe it is a bad omen to start the season with a loss, this is the exact same situation the Pioneers found themselves in last year where they rebounded to finish the regular season 8-2. Certainly with a few minor adjustments the Pioneers can come back next week ready to win at home versus Penn Manor.

--Kevin Reed, Football Reporter

Edited: BP

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