By Larry Duling
FAIRBURY - The U-High Pioneers used a dynamic running game and an opportunistic defense to defeat the Prairie Central Hawks, 34-30, in a key Corn Belt conference battle. The Pioneers jumped out to an early 13-0 thanks to a 15 yard touchdown run by Arion Worthman on their first series and an interception return for a touchdown by Junior Noah Larsen.
The Hawks would answer early in second as Addison Bounds threw the first of his two touchdowns on the night finding Ian Briscoe from nine yards out. The two teams then would trade touchdowns the rest of the half with U-High getting two Joe Johnson touchdown runs and the Hawks responding with 95 yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Evan Bahler. With those scores on the board the Pioneers took a 27-16 lead into the halftime break.
Prairie Central would get within three at 27-24 early in the third quarter as Addison Bounds found Victor Hernandez on a 19 yard touchdown strike. U-High quickly answered on their next drive which ended on a 1 yard touchdown run by Arion Worthman.
The score would stay that way until late in the fourth quarter. The Prairie Central defense was able to stop the Pioneer inside their own five yard line early in the fourth quarter to stay in the game. The Hawks would three times drive deep into U-High territory but Pioneer were able to keep their ten point cushion causing two Prairie Central turnovers.
The Hawks got a late fourth quarter touchdown with 43 seconds to go as Addison Bounds scored on a four yard touchdown run to pull Prairie Central to within 34-30. The subsequent onsides kick was recovered by the Pioneers who then ran out the clock.
Joe Johnson led the Pioneers with 148 yards on 22 carries with two touchdowns as the U-High rolled up 200 rushing yards in the game. Arion Worthman completed 12 passes in 17 attempts for 174 yards.
The Hawks were led by the passing of Addison Bound as the Hawks quarterback was 19-34 for 186 yards and two touchdowns. Evan Bahler led the Prairie Central rushing attack with 61 yards on 16 carries.
The Pioneers improved to 4-0 on the season and 3-0 in the Corn Belt Conference. Prairie Central drops to 2-2 on the season and 2-1 in the Corn Belt.