Even with its potent running game stalled, Pinnacle found a way to win in Friday’s home clash with Anthem Boulder Creek.
The No. 5-ranked team in Division I's power ranking seedings, the Pioneers earned a 27-7 victory.
Special teams, big plays in the passing game, and a standout performance from the defense more than made up for the Jaguars' stifling of Pinnacle's 1,000-yard rusher, Josh Hoekstra.
Senior captain Evan Tompkins blocked a field goal, then picked up the loose ball and ran 85 yards for the game’s first score. Another senior captain, quarterback Michael Sanders, hooked up twice with sophomore wide receiver Cules Rose for scores of 34 and 25 yards, respectively.
The defense got two interceptions from Michael Harlan, held the Jags to negative rushing yards and put constant pressure on freshman quarterback Gunther Johnson.
“We’ve been a good running team, but not tonight,” said Pinnacle coach Dana Zupke. “Boulder Creek gets credit for that. We didn’t give up a lot and we relied on some big plays.”
On its second drive of the night, Boulder Creek (5-3) had moved to the Pinnacle 6. On fourth down, Dom Perna came in for a 23-yard field goal attempt, but Tompkins rushed in from the left end to block the attempt, pick up the ball after a couple bounces and sprint the rest of the way to a 6-0 Pioneers lead.
“Our coaches had identified a weakness and designed something for us to try and make a play,” said Tompkins. “It’s a huge momentum shift when you can have big special teams plays. I got lucky and made a play.”
Sanders and Rose made a couple big plays, too.
After converting on a fourth down from the Boulder Creek 45, Sanders hit a wide-open Rose with a 34-yard strike on the first play of the second quarter.
The two hooked up again from 25 yards out with only 17.6 seconds left until halftime for a 20-0 advantage. Pinnacle (7-1) got the ball with 1:14 left at the Boulder Creek 48. Sanders went 4-for-4 on the drive hitting four different receivers, including Daniel Galindo, Harlan, Hoekstra and Rose.
A defensive statement was best made during the first series of the second half. With Boulder Creek starting at its own 20, the Pioneers stuffed the Jaguars running game with a three-and-out with running plays of minus-4, minus-4 and minus-7 yards, respectively.
Boulder Creek had to punt from its own end zone. Pinnacle started the next possession from the Jaguars’ 43 and took a 27-0 lead on a Hoekstra 1-yard run with 5:33 left in the third.
Hoekstra, who came into the game with 1,109 yards and a 9.1 rush per carry average, had just 43 yards on 13 attempts. Pinnacle averages 284.1 rushing yards per game and had only 28, with the inclusion of negative yards from Sanders’ sacks, Friday.
Sanders did his work through the air as he completed 17 of 22 passes for 224 yards.
Pinnacle’s defense gave up only one big play. Johnson connected with Isaiah Huston, who out-ran most of the Pioneer defense for a 69-yard gain. Three plays later, Johnson hit Dan Johnson on a 4-yard pass play for the lone Boulder Creek score.
“Our defense was tight all night,” said Zupke. “They had just the one big play from Huston, who’s a great athlete.”
Pinnacle 27, Boulder Creek 7
Boulder Creek 0 0 7 0 -- 7
Pinnacle 6 14 7 0 -- 27
First downs 9 12
Rushes-yards 19-(-27) 29-28
Passing yards 144 239
Comp-Att-Int 17-30-2 18-26-1
Fumbles-lost 0-0 1-0
Penalties-yards 1-5 10-93
P – Tompkins 85 blocked FG return (kick failed)
P – Rose 34 pass from Sanders (Sweet kick)
P – Rose 25 pass from Sanders (Sweet kick)
P – Hoekstra 1 run (Sweet kick)
BC – D. Johnson 4 pass from G. Johnson (Perna kick)