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Pioneer perseveres, defeats Pace in home debut

Copyright 2014 Progress Times.
20140905 Pioneer v Pace Footbal Small dy 010 2It’s not how many times you fall down, but how many times you get up after falling down that matters.
Sharyland Pioneer embodied that saying on Friday when they overcame four fumbles and an interception to defeat Brownsville Pace 14-7 in their inaugural home opener at Richard Thompson Stadium.
“Wins don’t come easy, I don’t care if it’s the Dallas Cowboys or the University of Texas Longhorns, so I’ll take it,” Pioneer first-year head coach Jason Wheeler said. “We turned the ball over a lot, we’re our own worst enemy on offense. We’re moving the ball good, but the turnovers really hurt us and a lot of penalties. We’ve got to correct that.”
“When we play a better football team, we’re going to be in trouble and dig ourselves into a hole,” added Wheeler. “The good thing is that we’re playing great defense right now and when you do that, it keeps you in the game.”
With the win the Diamondbacks improved to 2-0 in their inaugural season and the Vikings dropped to 0-2.
Diamondbacks fullback Brandon Casas knew how to pick himself up time and again despite committing three of his team’s four fumbles when he scored Pioneer’s winning touchdown with 11:04 left in the fourth quarter on a 25-yard run that gave the home side a 14-0 lead.
“I just tried my hardest and pushed through,” Casas said. “I’d been messing up and I just picked myself up and did it for the team. My teammates helped me out and my coaches told me to lift up my head and I kept on going.”
After a scoreless first quarter, Pioneer fullback Sal González scored the first touchdown at home in Diamondbacks history when he ran for a 2-yard score with 9:23 remaining in the half to culminate a four-play drive that started on Pace’s 37 yard line less than a minute earlier.
Pioneer junior receiver Brady Mangseth finished off the scoring drive when he caught the two-point conversion in the end zone to give the Diamondbacks an 8-0 lead.
The Pioneer defense held off the Vikings offense for much of the game despite spending some additional time on the field due to the turnovers. The only time the Diamondbacks’ defense buckled slightly came after their second TD drive in the fourth quarter that put Pioneer up 14-0.
“We have a very solid defense on the run game,” said Pioneer free safety Christopher Villarreal. “Our defensive line is very solid and our inside linebacker Joe (Garza), he takes leadership and whatever he does, we foillow. It gives us momentum and that’s what makes us solid.”
Pace drove 49 yards on five plays and scored on a 12-yard TD pass to Vikings running back Christian Benítez with 9:47 left in the game to cut Pioneer’s lead to 14-7.
The Diamondbacks host Corpus Christi Ray at 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 12 at Richard Thompson Stadium.

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