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The Scarlet & Black

Football takes a loss, looks for win at home

The football team will play against Macalester College tomorrow. Photo by Parker Van Nostrand.

The football team faced off against Luther College last Saturday in Decorah, Iowa for its second straight away game. After losing a heartbreaker to Beloit College in their season opener by just four points, the Pioneers looked to rebound against the Norse.

“We were pretty frustrated with the loss to Beloit,” said head coach Jeff Pedersen ’02. “It was a team that we had beaten four times in a row, and we expected to win … It was our first game, and first-game mistakes came back to bite us.”

However, the team also failed to record its first win against Luther, losing 49-21 and dropping its season record to 0-2.

The Pioneers looked great to begin the game. After Rich Renteria ’15 forced and recovered a fumble deep in Beloit’s territory in the first quarter, Grinnell tied up the game in the closing seconds of the quarter with a four-yard run from Jacob Bernholtz ’17. The 7-7 tie did not last long as the Norse gained momentum in the second quarter, rumbling for 28 unanswered points on four touchdowns.

“Defensively, our lack of depth hurt us,” Pedersen said. “Our defense played well three drives in a row and we just got worn out by that next one.”

Despite the serious deficit, the team did not surrender without a fight.

“Once we got out of halftime, [the players] were fresh,” Pedersen said. “They started moving the ball and making stops. It was a much more balanced game.”

The football team will play against Macalester College tomorrow. Photo by Parker Van Nostrand.
The football team will play against Macalester College tomorrow. Photo by Parker Van Nostrand.

Down 42-7 in the fourth quarter, the Pioneers marched 80 yards down the field, which ended with another touchdown run from Bernholtz. On the very next drive, the team went 67 yards and scored another touchdown, this time on a 15-yard pass from Harrison Hoegh ’18 to Emmi Sandoval ’16. The late scoring drives came too late, however, as the game ended in a score of 49-21.

The Pioneers had a rough time containing Luther’s run game, which accumulated 579 total yards on the day. Throughout the game, the Pioneers tended to take their time moving down the field, completing long but efficient drives. On the other hand, the Norse scored almost all of their touchdowns off of breakout runs. These long runs killed the Pioneers, as the opponent’s touchdowns came from distances such as 89, 44, 47, 49 and 78 yards.

“They run a rare offensive scheme, the triple option,” Pedersen said. “It only takes one guy being out of position by not much to let up a big play.”

While Luther ran the ball 57 times, it did not attempt a single pass the entire game. Meanwhile Grinnell’s Sam Poulos ’16 threw for 101 yards, and Jacob Bernholtz ran for 98 yards and Grinnell’s only two rushing touchdowns.

Grinnell seemed to have a manageable time running the ball, averaging 3.9 yards per carry and rushing for a total of 159 yards on the day. However, passing the ball proved much more challenging, as Pioneer quarterbacks combined to go just 16 for 35 with one interception and one touchdown. Zach McGriff ’18 was the Pioneer’s leading receiver, with three receptions for 36 yards. The Pioneers spread the ball around effectively, completing passes to eight different receivers in the game and running it with four different players.

Pedersen insisted that the team is getting more focused, and will be ready this weekend’s competition.

“Our practices got better at the end of last week for Luther and they’ve been great this week for Macalester,” Pedersen said. “Against Beloit, we threw the ball well and against Luther we ran the ball well, and hopefully we’re going to get that balanced out this weekend.”

The team will play its first home game against Macalester College tomorrow at 1 p.m.

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