Homecoming night wasn’t touted Pinnacle junior quarterback Brian Lewerke’s highlight-reel game.
His receivers dropped several passes and a few more sailed high, producing a 7-for-22 stat line. But the throws that connected proved the difference in a Division I Section V game against Glendale Mountain Ridge.
Each of Lewerke’s first six completions went for 23 or more yards, including touchdown passes of 49, 70 and 90 yards. His final connection was a mere five yards but provided the icing on the Pioneers 44-13 victory.
“Offensively we got some big plays but I’m disappointed," Pinnacle coach Dana Zupke said. "I didn’t think it was our best effort."
Pinnacle (6-2, 3-0 section) fell behind early after a Lewerke fumble led to a Mountain Ridge (2-6, 0-3) trick play touchdown. Junior quarterback Robert Limmer tossed a long lateral to senior wideout Bart Diehl, who hit wide-open fellow senior Shawn Doucette for a 42-yard score.
Two plays later Lewerke redeemed himself. Senior receiver Mason Hatton slipped behind the defense, snared Lewerke’s bomb and twisted a defender around on a game-tying 70-yard touchdown.
Another two-play drive trained the spotlight on the Pioneers’ ability in open space. Lewerke zipped a slant to senior receiver Daniel Galindo, who scooted for a 49-yard score.
Pinnacle had three chances to put the game away early, but its drives in the late first quarter and early second quarter stalled in the red zone. Senior kicker Ben Sweet booted field goals of 24, 32 and 23 yards to push the advantage to 23-7.
Senior Tyler Townsley’s fumble after returning a punt deep into Mountain Ridge territory scuttled another chance to put the game away before halftime.
The Mountain Lions, already without starting quarterback Nate Calles since week two, lost Limmer to a rib injury in the second quarter. Senior Brandon Fox, normally a starting cornerback, filled in as Mountain Ridge employed a full house backfield.
Five straight runs, including a 25-yard burst by senior tailback Zach Miller set up the visitors with first and goal at the Pioneers’ 2. But an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after a first-down run knocked the Mountain Lions back to the 16.
“Homecoming is always a tough week. I think we really came out flat in that second half,” Zupke said. “I’m glad we kind of woke up and got back in control of the game.”
Fox rushed for a yard and tossed an incompletion. Doucette ran for it on a fake field goal, but was stopped on the 10.
On the next play, Lewerke hit Galindo in stride 35 yards downfield. The senior made a cut and sprinted to complete the 90-yard scoring play and douse Mountain Ridge’s hopes.
Townsley intercepted Fox’s third-down heave, but the Pionners could not move it. On their next drive, senior Josh Hoekstra ran it in from the 7.
A bouncing punt pinned the Pioneers at their 4, but Hoekstra broke loose on an 84-yard jaunt. Lewerke rolled out and tossed a 5-yard touchdown to senior tight end Cole Neubaeur.
Fox injured his shoulder on the Mountain Lions’ next drive. Doucette became Mountain Ridge’s second emergency quarterback of the night and led the game’s final touchdown drive.
“It’s life. You’ve got to come back and gather closer together as a family,” Mountain Ridge coach Bobby Green said. “You’ve got to find a reason to keep fighting. They will. They’re good kids.”
While the Mountain Lions lick their many wounds, Pinnacle prepares for a section title showdown on its home turf.
That the matchup comes against longtime district rival Horizon and the Huskies will arrive with a similarly full-throttle speak attack and another vaunted junior quarterback in Dalton Sneed only adds juice to this clash.
“We know they throw the ball well and they’ve got a lot of fast, athletic guys there. We’re probably going to have to do some special things against those guys. They’re good,” Zupke said.
PINNACLE 44, MOUNTAIN RIDGE 13
First Downs P 9, MR 15
Rushing P 27-215, MR 51-167
Passing (Comp-Att-YDS-TD-INT): P 7-23-304-4-0; MR 7-19-104-1-2
Fumbles-Lost P 2-2 MR 0-0
Penalties-Yards P 6-70; MR 7-70
Mtn. Ridge 7 0 0 6 -- 13
Pinnacle 20 3 14 7 -- 44
MR – Shawn Doucette 42 pass from Bart Diehl (Logan Besore kick)
P – Mason Hatton 70 pass from Brian Lewerke (Ben Sweet kick)
P – Daniel Galindo 49 pass from Lewerke (Sweet kick)
P – Sweet 24 FG
P – Sweet 32 FG
P – Sweet 23 FG
P – Galindo 90 pass from Lewerke (Sweet kick)
P – Josh Hoekstra 7 run (Sweet kick)
P – Cole Neubauer 5 pass from Lewerke (Sweet kick)
MR – Dexter Horvath 10 run (kick failed)