WAUKOMIS — Pioneer is looking forward to a second chance against No. 2-ranked Laverne when the 10-3 Mustangs host the 9-1 Tigers in a 7 p.m. Class B semifinal at Mustang Field Friday.
Laverne crushed the Mustangs, 50-14 on Sept. 25.
Pioneer was held to a season-low 146 yards rushing, 198 yards in total and was held under 20 points for the only time this season in that contest. The Mustangs allowed a season-high 325 yards rushing and 535 yards in total offense. The 50 points was the highest PHS allowed in a game as well.
Laverne’s Houston Bockelman rushed for 129 yards on 10 carries and scored twice. Peyton Freeman rushed for 120 yards on 15 carries and two TDs and was seven of 12 passing for 136 yards. Logen Freeman caught five passes for 114 yards and two scores.
“We’re glad to have another opportunity to keep playing,’’ said Pioneer coach Gus Overstreet. “That’s all that matters. We’re excited to be where we’re at.’’
Laverne has five straight wins over the Mustangs.
“The boys will never forget what happened the first time,’’ he said. “That’s why we play tough teams. It tests us and tells us what we needed to get fixed.’’
Pioneer is 7-1 since that game with the lone loss against Barnsdall, 26-20 on Oct. 27. The Mustangs have won five straight, including playoff wins over Drumright, 52-6; Quinton, 46-0; and Velma-Alma, 36-32.
“We think we got it fixed,’’ Overstreet said. “We have some guys in different spots now. That opened our eyes up to other things.’’
This is the 12th time Pioneer has had a regular season rematch in the playoffs. The team that won the first game won seven of the previous 11 matchups.
Recent history is good for the Mustangs. In 2018, Pioneer lost to Seiling, 44-16 in the regular season, but won in the playoffs, 44-22.
Laverne delivered an early knockout punch in the teams’ first meeting taking a 22-0 lead in the first quarter. It was 36-0 after three quarters before Pioneer scored twice in the final period to avoid a possible mercy rule loss.
“They jumped on us early and took care of business,’’ Overstreet said. “We didn’t capitalize when we had opportunities and we had too many four and outs.’’
Laverne has not lost since opening the season with a 28-20 loss to Cherokee on Aug. 28. The Tigers raised some eyebrows by crushing defending state champion Shattuck, 50-6 for the District B-1 title on Nov. 6.
They received a forfeit over Seiling in the Tigers’ first playoff game, followed by wins over Waurika, 58-22 and Davenport, 52-12. Bockelman had 219 yards rushing on 15 carries and three scores against Davenport, while Peyton Freeman had 57 yards on 12 tries and two scores.
“They made some adjustments,’’ Overstreet said. “They put some different guys in some different spots, but they are still doing the same stuff they were doing against us. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. They are just as good as what they do well.’’
Bockelman and Freeman have benefitted from a big, physical line that “stays on their blocks,’’ Overstreet said. “This is going to come down to a ground-and-pound game.”
Laverne is in the semifinals for the first time since 2017, but the Tigers took state titles in 2012, 2013 and 2016 before losing to Shattuck, 30-16 in the 2017 finals.
Pioneer is in the semifinals for the first time since 2005.
The Mustangs are riding the momentum of a dramatic come-from-behind 36-32 win over Velma-Alma last week in which they overcame a 26-8 second quarter deficit. Quarterback Ty Dennett, who came into the game with only two TD passes, threw for four scores to four different receivers — Robert Newberg, Keegan Beaver, Dakota Wingo and Caden Humphries.
“We got fed humble pie early,’’ Overstreet said. “We had to fight and claw to get back in the game. The boys showed a lot of heart and a lot of pride. They know they can’t get behind like that this week. We’re going to have to fire on all cylinders the whole game.’’
The win was a “great step in the right direction’’ for the program, Overstreet said.
“In the past, if we got behind 26-8, we just would have folded up our tents,’’ he said. “The boys never gave up. They showed heart.’’
Dennett had not thrown for more than 77 yards in any one game before last week.
“He stepped up,’’ Overstreet said. “He threw the ball well and the line gave him perfect protection. I can’t remember the last time we had one rushing touchdown and four passing touchdowns. The passing game was set up by the running game.
“It was just a huge confidence-builder. Anytime you can come back from a 26-8 deficit and come back to win is a testament to the boys’ heart, pride and everything.’’
Newberg had 17 tackles to lead the defensive charge. Wingo had 12.
Beaver, who had only one catch in the regular season, had “two big catches,’’ Overstreet said
The ground game saw Leyton Parker rush for 76 yards on 11 carries and one touchdown, Marzell Washington had 32 yards on five carries and Wingo had 12 yards on three tries.
“When we needed a first down, they made sure they got it for us,’’ Overstreet said. “We’re not worried about the stats as long as we do our jobs.”
Overstreet won a coin toss Saturday for the right to host Friday’s game.
He said the home field is an advantage for non-football reasons. Fans will be required to wear masks and social distance. Fans will be permitted to bring chairs to sit on the track.
“Being able to have a normal routine is nice,’’ he said. “You still have to get concession and gate workers, but it’s nice being at home and not have to worry about traffic. You know the boys will be on time. Long trips are stressful. You have to make sure the kids are wearing masks and have enough room between them.’’
The winner faces the Shattuck at Dewar winner for the Class B championship Dec. 19 at 2 p.m. at Ranger Field on the Northwestern Oklahoma State campus in Alva.
“I couldn’t be more proud of where we’re at,’’ said Overstreet. “We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the kids believing in what we’re doing.’’
Friday night’s game can be heard on KXLS (95.7 FM).