Pioneers Enter History Books, Finish Regular Season Undefeated

Looking for a tune-up preparing for the semifinals of the District 3 4-A playoffs, the Pioneers welcomed the Northern Lebanon Vikings in a L-L League mandated crossover game. The Pioneers needed to win the game to secure their first undefeated regular season in the 49-year history of the program. 

Austin Stoltzfus makes catch for a touchdown (Jon Klein)

The Pioneer offense started off the game with a bang after Austin Stoltzfus made an amazing catch on a deep ball thrown by Sean McTaggart. They never looked back from there, scoring 56 more unanswered points. On the next drive for the Vikings, Beau Heyser jumped a route and returned an interception 38 yards to give the Pioneers a two score lead. Later in the quarter, Sean McTaggart escaped the Viking pass rush and scrambled for a 21 yard TD run. Conner Nolt also blocked a kick for the 2nd consecutive week, this time a punt that was recovered by Elijah Carr for a touchdown. 
In the final three quarters of the game, many of the backups got to enjoy playing time due to the Pioneers being up by so much. Drew Harris, Owen Fikkert, Payton Cunningham, Gio Malatesta, and Drew Gochnauer all ran for touchdowns throughout the final 36 minutes of the game. It was a wonderful night for Gochnauer in particular, running for 48 yards and the aforementioned TD in his first game back from an injury that has held him out most of the season. Devin Barker finally got the Vikings on the scoreboard with just over 1 minute remaining in the game after a 5 yard TD run. 


Pioneer Defense: There's not much to say about this group that hasn't already been said. The unit has only allowed opposing offenses an average of 166 yards per game, plenty good enough for 1st in the L-L League. It is now 36 days since the first-team defense has allowed a single point, dating back to the bout with the Lebanon Cedars on September 25th.

Head Coach John Manion: It was a very special night for Manion along with the entire football program. Manion has been head coach of the program for 23 years and earned his 175th win tonight. He has also earned 2 district championships and 8 section championships during his tenure. 

Pioneer Running Game: 6 rushing touchdowns and a team total of 246 yards. The group led by Alex Knapp, Drew Harris, and Owen Fikkert was very diverse tonight, with 9 different players handling the ball at some stage of the game. 


1st Quarter:
(LS) Austin Stoltzfus 29 yard reception. LS 7-NL 0.
(LS) Beau Heyser 39 yard interception return. LS 14-NL 0.
(LS) Sean McTaggart 21 yard run. LS 21-NL 0. 
(LS) Elijah Carr 25 yard blocked punt return. LS 28-NL 0.
2nd Quarter:
(LS) Drew Harris 9 yard run. LS 35-NL 0.
(LS) Owen Fikkert 7 yard run. LS 42-NL 0.
(LS) Payton Cunnigham 31 yard run. LS 49-NL 0.
3rd Quarter:
(LS) Gio Malatesta 21 yard run. LS 56-NL 0.
4th Quarter:
(LS) Drew Gochnauer 6 yard run. LS 63-NL 0.
(NL) Devin Barker 5 yard run (missed PAT). LS 63-NL 6. 

STANDOUT STATS: (Courtesy LancasterOnline & Maxpreps)

(NL) Grady Stichler: 12-23, 71 yards, 2 INTs
(LS) Sean McTaggart: 2-3, 36 yards, 1 TD
(LS) Gio Malatesta: 5 carries, 60 yards, TD
(LS) Drew Harris: 5 carries, 42 yards, TD
(LS) Drew Gochnauer: 12 carries, 48 yards, TD
(NL) Devin Barker: 8 carries, 2 yards, TD
(NL) Nate Shirk: 4 catches, 36 yards
(LS) Austin Stoltzfus 1 catch, 29 yards, TD

The Pioneers have finished the regular season with an undefeated record of 7-0. The Vikings fall to 0-7 and will look to get a win next week away at James Buchanan. The Pioneers will next take on the Conrad Weiser Scouts in the semifinals of the District 3 4-A bracket. The game will take place on Friday at J. K. Mechanical Field. 

By Logan Moyer, LS News reporter
Photos by Jonathan Klein, LS News Editor-in-Chief 

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