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Pioneers Prevail in Defensive Battle

Pioneers Prevail in Defensive Battle

By: Alex Melillo

WASHINGTON, NJ – The Somerville Pioneers improved to 4-0 Saturday night by defeating the Warren Hills Blue Streaks, 26-7.

The first half was a silent one, with both defensive units prevailing time and time again over their offensive counterparts. The first real scoring opportunity came to the Blue Streaks at the start of the second quarter. 

Inside the Pioneer 10-yard line, the Blue Streaks looked poised to put points up on the board. However, on fourth down, junior Joe Ciempola jumped the route and picked off the Warren Hills quarterback.           

The rest of the second quarter was a gridlock, with both teams trading punts. The score at the halftime intermission was tied at zero. 

With adjustments made at halftime, the Pioneer offense was looking to get into gear early. After a defensive stand to begin the half, senior QB Ryan Kovacs and Company would get the ball rolling. 

With 7:23 remaining in the third, Kovacs faked the screen pass and found junior Tyjir Williams uncovered down the field for the long 47-yard score. A good PAT by junior Bobby Wortman made it 7-0 Pioneers.

Making his presence known on offense seconds earlier, Williams stepped up on the defensive side intercepting a pass and giving the Pioneer offense a chance to build momentum.

However, the first play of the drive, the Pioneer offense gave the ball over to Warren Hills on a fumble with good field position.

The Somerville defense, once again stood tall inside their own red zone. Junior Markus Lauber picked off a tipped pass to halt the Blue Streak advance and swing the momentum back in Somerville's favor.

This proved a turning point in the game as the Pioneer offense never looked back after this. Taking advantage of the aggressive Warren Hills defense, Kovacs again pump faked on the screen pass and found junior wideout Da'Shaun Smith unmarked for the 94-yard catch and run. A failed two-point conversation made it 13-0 Pioneers.

To start the fourth, Warren Hills tried to get crafty on the outside, attempting a hook and ladder play, but a fumble on the play recovered by senior Quron Smith set the Pioneers up with great field position. 

After a great diving catch on the 1-yard line, junior Duke McDuffie lined up in the Wildcat formation and ran the ball straight ahead for the touchdown. Somerville held the 19-0 lead over Warren Hills. 

Somerville's final scoring play of the game came with 6:20 left. Senior Marcus Burnside lined up in the Wildcat, pump faked the pass and blazed up the middle for the 53-yard touchdown run.

Warren Hills got on the board in the final minute of the game on a touchdown pass to the back of the end zone in which Blue Streaks wideout Hayden Van Solkema made a terrific leaping grab on the pass from quarterback Cooper Gabrich.

Final Score: Somerville- 26 Warren Hills- 7.

Saturday's three-interception performance marks the second consecutive game the Pioneer defense has recorded three interceptions. Ciempola's second-quarter pick also continued a streak of four straight games for the Pioneers in which the defense has registered at least one interception. 

With tonight's 26-point outburst in the second half, the Pioneer offense has now scored 26 or more points in the final two-quarters in three of their first four games.

Next Friday night the Somerville Pioneers return to the friendly confines of Brooks Field when the square off against the Rahway Indians. Kickoff set for 7 p.m. Catch all the live scoring updates on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (@VilleFootball). You can also watch all of our post-game video recaps with player and coach reactions as well as all the highlights on our YouTube page. Be sure to visit our website at


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