Bluejays play with grit and heart but can’t pull off win

Patric Klingforth

Balloons floated into the soft orange, pink, and purple sky as the Pioneer Panthers ran onto the field for senior night. NJ-SP rounded out their 2017 regular season slate by squaring off against the undefeated team from Royal Center. The Blue Jay cheerleaders riled the traveling side up with the school fight song just before kickoff.
Pioneer received and went to work quickly. With a long run from the quarterback and a first down carry to follow, the Panthers struck first on the ground. The point after was good giving Pioneer a fast 7-0 lead. The Jays opened up the game with a different offensive look. Running a power read option with two or three back sets, NJ-SP wanted to force Pioneer into difficult choices in situations they weren’t prepared to handle. This new look was interesting and would be nice to see in action against other opponents, but had limited success against the Panthers. NJ-SP did get a gutsy fourth down conversion but failed to capitalize and were forced to punt. The snap sailed over the punters head giving Pioneer the ball, needing only 14 yards to score. A fullback dive gave Pioneer their second touchdown of the quarter. After the extra point the Panthers had a strong 14-0 lead. The Pioneer defensive line asserted itself early forcing NJ-SP into a number of fourth down conversion attempts over the course of the game. The Blue Jays made five first downs from fourth down rushes, two of which occurred in the first quarter. NJ-SP wasn’t able to find the end zone despite the risky runs.