Friday night’s showdown between Horizon and Pinnacle lived up to the shootout it was billed to be. But, surprisingly, it was the Huskies’ high-octane offense that couldn't keep pace.
Unfazed after falling behind by double digits midway through the second quarter, Pinnacle (7-2) and quarterback Brian Lewerke reeled off 28 straight points and never looked back, clinching the Division I, Section V title with a 49-39 victory.
“Honestly, it’s sweet because there is a rivalry between the two schools,” Pinnacle coach Dana Zupke said. “But, we really have bigger plans for this team. I love the win against a great team like Horizon. They were everything they were billed to be. I’m just proud of my team for the way they battled."
Early on, the battle appeared to be very one-sided, as Kris Heavner’s squad looked every bit the part of an unstoppable offensive force in the early going. One moment in the contest, however, seemed to instantly turn the tide in Pinnacle’s favor.
Down 12-0 with under six minutes to play in the first half, Lewerke found senior Cules Rose down the middle of the field for a 49-yard touchdown. While he was able to let go of the pass, the junior quarterback was hit late on the play and a 15-yard penalty was assessed on the ensuing kickoff.
With the ball placed at the Horizon 45-yard line, Zupke called for an onside kick, and Pinnacle recovered it with ease. Three plays after the recovery, Lewerke connected with senior receiver Daniel Galindo on a 10-yard touchdown strike in the right corner of the end zone to put the Pioneers up 14-12 – a lead they’d hold for the remainder of the contest.
Coming out of halftime, Pinnacle extended its lead to 16, as Tyler Townsley returned the opening kickoff for a 78-yard score and Rose corralled a 35-yard pass for his second touchdown of the night.
The Huskies (7-2) fell behind by as many as 17 in the second half – their largest deficit of 2013 – but junior quarterback Dalton Sneed orchestrated two fourth quarter touchdown drives of 54 and 64 yards, respectively, to whittle Pinnacle’s lead down to three with just under five minutes remaining.
Unfortunately for Sneed and Co., Pinnacle’s offense never slowed down.
After converting on both a third and fourth down conversion, Lewerke (20-of-33 for 384 yards and five touchdowns) made his last pass of the night count. Facing a first down at the Horizon 46-yard line, the 6-foot-3 danced around the pocket for a good seven seconds before heaving a perfect pass to a streaking Mason Hatton in the end zone.
From there, Pinnacle senior linebacker James Mandrola sealed the 10-point victory with an interception of Sneed in the waning moments.
For the Pioneers, it’s their seventh straight win over the Huskies since the two teams were put in the same section back in 2007.
“We just came into this game believing we could have a great day out there," Galindo said. "Everyone has talked about their offense, but we wanted to prove that we had the better offense. And I think we did that tonight. Beating Horizon, there just isn’t a better feeling than that. It gives us a ton of momentum. We’re going to focus on next week first and hopefully will go into the playoffs hot."
At least for one night, Horizon’s offense showed some semblance of vulnerability. Although the Huskies eclipsed the 34-point mark for the ninth consecutive game this season, three turnovers, four sacks allowed and a multitude of crucial penalties seemed to thwart any major chance at a comeback.
“They’re defensive line is the best one I’ve seen this season,” said Sneed, who threw for 260 yards and five touchdowns in the loss. “They’re just a great line. They got after it and made us work the whole night.
“You tip your hat to them, because that's a great team. We’re 7-2 now and will finish off the regular season next week. Then it’s on to the playoffs, and hopefully we have a run in us.”
Pinnacle 49, Horizon 39
First Downs: H 22, P 21
Rushing: H – 27-154 P 47-178
Passing (Comp.-Att.-Yards-TD-INT): H - 21-34-260-5-2, P – 20-33-384-5-2
Fumbles-lost: H 1-1 P 2-0
Penalties-yards: H 12-100 P 14-125
Horizon 6 6 14 13
Pinnacle 0 14 21 14
H: Quinn 35-yard pass from Sneed (PAT blocked)
H: Robinson 9-yard pass from Sneed (PAT blocked)
P: Rose 49-yard pass from Lewerke (Sweet kick)
P: Galindo 10-yard pass from Lewerke (Sweet kick)
P: Townsley 78-yard kickoff return (Sweet kick)
P: Rose 35-yard pass from Lewerke (Sweet kick)
H: Marciniak 46-yard pass from Sneed (Two-point conversion no good)
P: Hoekstra 9-yard run (Sweet kick)
H: McLaurin 9-yard pass from Sneed (Two-point conversion good)
P: Galindo 55-yard pass from Lewerke (Sweet kick)
H: Quinn 9-yard run (Two-point conversion no good)
H: Robinson 45-yard pass from Sneed (McAtamney kick)
P: Hatton 46-yard pass from Lewerke (Sweet kick)