Pioneers’ season comes to end with playoff loss to Clinton-Massie


Drew Myers of Jonathan Alder falls into the end zone as two Clinton-Massie defenders attempt to keep him out during the Region 16 football quarterfinals at Clinton-Massie High School. The reception marked JA’s lone touchdown. The Falcons ended the Pioneers’ season with a 17-7 victory.
(Journal-Tribune photo by Sam Dillon)
Jonathan Alder’s football defense was faced with a daunting task Friday evening during the opening round of the Division IV state playoffs.
After all, the Falcons of Clinton-Massie had been destroying opposing defensive units to the tune of 48 points per game while rolling up a 9-1 record during the regular season.
The Pioneers limited the Falcons to their lowest point production of the season as Clinton-Massie tallied only 17 markers.
The unfortunate part of the evening for Alder was the fact its offense did not execute well and scored only seven points of its own during a season-ending loss.
“Our defense played lights-out,” said JA head coach Brett Glass.
The Pioneers limited Clinton-Massie’s wishbone offense to 245 total yards. Of that total, 211 came on the ground.
Earlier in the week, Glass said Alder would have to keep the Falcons from ripping off big plays with its run-oriented offense.
The Pioneers did just that, limiting Clinton-Massie to just four yards per carry.
It was on the opposite side of the field that Jonathan Alder had problems.
A normally potent JA ground game was stopped for 69 yards.
The Falcons were able to key on JA’s Jamie Dye.
The senior running back went into the contest having rushed for slightly more than 1,400 yards during the 10-game schedule.
He was, however, held to just 57 yards on 18 carries.
The Pioneers went to the air, with senior quarterback Preston Eisnaugle getting off 25 passes. He only completed 10, however, as a number of passes were dropped.
“We dropped some passes here and there, but those guys are the ones who got us to the playoffs,” said Glass. “We also were stopped on some third-and-short plays, so we missed offensive opportunities.”
Both teams played rather conservatively with the ball during the opening quarter.
Neither offensive unit struck fear into the hearts of the other team as the first two possessions by both teams ended in punts.
Another Falcon series ended prematurely when Jonathan Alder’s Brennan Blain pounced on a fumble.
The Pioneers could not capitalize on the turnover, though, as they went three-and-out.
The ensuing JA punt returned the ball to the Falcons on their own 23-yard-line with a little more than a minute to play in the opening quarter
Clinton-Massie used eight plays to move down to the JA 34 as action moved into the ensuing quarter.
It appeared, however, that the Falcons were stymied when they faced fourth-and-three.
They decided to go for first down and crossed up the Pioneers with a rare pass.
Quarterback Corey Stulz saw that Luke Richardson had slipped behind the coverage in the secondary.
Stulz lofted the ball over the defenders and Richardson caught in on the fly.
He covered the remaining distance for the 34-yard touchdown.
Derick Carlisle booted the extra point to give the home team a 7-0 edge with slightly less than nine minutes to play in the half.
The teams exchanged three more punts and the Falcons were content to go into the turn with their one-touchdown lead.
Alder took the kickoff to open the third quarter and mounted what would be its lone scoring drive of the evening.
JA added a new wrinkle on that series as Dye took the direct snap from center on several plays.
“Jamie was able to get us some extra numbers by doing that,” said Glass. “He can hit downhill quickly and it worked a little bit.”
Dye picked up some hard-earned yardage on the ground, while Eisnaugle was able to connect on a handful of passes to Dalton Potts and Bryan Blacka.
JA moved down to the Massie 17 before Eisnaugle hit Drew Myers at the Falcon 11.
The Eisnaugle-to-Blacka connection moved the ball down to the four-yard-line.
From there, Eisnaugle hit Myers with a scoring strike.
Ethan Gordin’s extra point tied the game at 7-7 with 5:42 remaining in the third period.
Clinton-Massie’s ensuing possession wiped the rest of the time off the quarter and advanced down to the JA five-yard-line.
An incomplete pass on the first snap of the final stanza left the home team in a fourth-and-five situation.
Carlisle was summoned for a field goal attempt.
His 22-yard effort was good, however, it was nullified by a chop block penalty.
The Falcons were moved back 15 yards, but Carlisle didn’t seem to mind.
His next attempt was also on the money as Massie went on top, 10-7.
Neither team’s defensive units gave much ground over the next several minutes, resulting in additional punts.
The Falcons took over on their own 49-yard-line after one of JA’s seven punts for the evening.
With 7:05 on the clock, Massie went on another time-consuming march.
The Pioneers tried to halt the Falcons’ momentum by burning their final timeouts.
The strategy was to no avail as Massie’s Christian Poytner bulled into the end zone from a yard out.
Carlisle booted the extra point and with 1:12 left in the game, the Pioneers trailed 17-7.
The situation got a bit chippy between the combatants during that final minute.
JA was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct before a last-gasp pass from Eisnaugle was picked off by Massie’s Jeff Passarge.
Alder was whistled for a late hit on the interception return, giving the Falcons the ball at the JA 21.
Massie went into victory formation with 37.1 seconds on the clock to end the game.
“The guys played hard tonight,” said Glass, as his squad finished with an 8-3 record.
“We just missed too many opportunities against a good team.”

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