By Ryan Divish
BIG SANDY Big Sandy head football coach Scott Chauvet has a saying, he likes to tell his players. "Big players make big plays in big games."
Wednesday night his players took the saying to heart. With a Class C playoff berth riding on the outcome, the Pioneers outlasted the Centerville Miners 85-62 in a game where the scoreboard operator was as tired as the players on the field.
Pioneer quarterback Gage Brumwell compiled 412 yards of total offense and accounted for six touchdowns in the game. Brumwell rushed for 110 yards and four TDs and passed for 302 yards and hooked up with Danny Larish and Matt Myers on a pair of scores.
"Gage has played awesome for the past three weeks," Chauvet said. "He's so poised and he makes good decisions. That's why he's out there."
Skylar Pearson also had a stellar evening for the Pioneers rushing for 228 yards and five touchdowns in the game.
Pearson, Brumwell and Adam Jesperson were able to find holes all night thanks to massive tackle Mason Ophus and the Big Sandy offensive line.
"We felt like we could run the ball on them coming in," Chauvet said. "After the first drive of the game, I knew we could score with them. It was just a matter of stopping them on defense."
And that wasn't all that easy. For what Centerville lacked in size compared to Big Sandy, they made up for in speed. The Miners used a myriad of ways to get the ball to do-everything back Kyle Oriet.
Oriet scored seven touchdowns in the game five receiving and two rushing. Quarterback Chase Pepos threw for a total seven TDs in the game.
The teams traded score for score for much of the first half. But Chauvet got what he wanted late in the second quarter when his team capitalized on three Pepos interceptions to put together back to back scores.
"We kept telling the defense to get us a stop," Chauvet said. "We just wanted to get two scores in a row to create some distance."
The three interceptions led two a pair of Pearson TD runs and a Brumwell 5-yard TD plunge to give the Pioneers a 49-36 lead at halftime.
"Getting that lead at halftime was big," Chauvet said. "It drove the nail in the coffin just a little deeper. We were able to tell the kids at halftime to just go out and play. We've struggled coming out of halftime all year.
Also at halftime, the Pioneers made a few adjustments on defense. They had changed their defensive game plan coming into the game to compensate for Centerville's speed. However, it wasn't working and Big Sandy went back to its base defense.
"We were just more comfortable in our base defense," Chauvet said.
Big Sandy was able to slow, if not completely stop Centerville. The Miners quick strike offense was able to cut the Pioneer lead to nine points late in the fourth quarter on a Pepos to Oriet 26-yard scoring pass. But Big Sandy answered. On the second play of the ensuing possession, Brumwell made a nifty fake on a option play and burst by the Miner defense for a 65-yard touchdown run.
"My blockers just opened the hole up," Brumwell said. "They made it easy."
Brumwell would add a 50-yard TD pass and Jesperson would add another score to put the game out of reach. With the win, the Pioneers will now face top-ranked Belt in the first round of the playoffs
"It's huge," Brumwell said of the win. "The goal the whole season was to make the playoffs."
As far as playing the top team in the state, Chauvet remained diplomatic.
"We need to be like that saying," Chauvet said. "Out big players have to make the big plays because it's definitely a big game."
The KG/Blue Sky Eagles ended their season on a sour note as they were defeated by top ranked Belt 50-7 Wednesday in Rudyard.
Logan Lewis threw a pair of touchdowns and rushed for another to lead the Huskies. Belt exploded to a 42-0 lead before the Eagles got on the scoreboard on 40-yard TD pass from Jon Lipp to Eric Groth.
Belt, 8-0 on the season, will face Big Sandy in the first round of the season. KG/Blue Sky finished its season with a record of 4-4.
After exploding to a 34-0 lead, the Chester Coyotes staved off a furious Valier Panther comeback to pick up 42-34 win Tuesday night in Chester.
Chester jumped out to its early lead on the strength of pair of Adam Stubbs TD runs and a 55-yard touchdown interception by Mitch Violette. However, Valier reeled off 34 unanswered points. Pat Wheeler's fourth touchdown catch of the game and Neil Tatsey's two point conversion tied the score at 34 late in the fourth quarter.
However, Chester's only score in the fourth quarter was a big one. Shannon Norick's 4-yard TD plunge and Stubbs subsequent two point conversion gave the Coyotes the win.
The J-I Rams picked up their fourth of the season with a 57-22 win over the Box Elder Bears Wednesday in Box Elder.
Zach Ramberg had a big day for the Rams throwing for three touchdowns, rushing for two more and catching another. Ramberg had scoring passes to Justin Johnson, Josh Lincoln and Matt Tempel. Johnson also scored on a 56-yard burst.
Box Elder got its points on the arm of Neal Rosette. The junior quarterback threw three touchdown passes connecting with Aaron Henry, Cole Henderson and Dustin Bacon.
Box Elder will host Brockton next Saturday while J-I will host Brady.