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Special teams sink Warren County
Kason Holder.jpg
Kason Holder goes up high to make a catch against the Wildcats Friday night. The Pioneers were doomed by turnovers in a 28-21 loss at Lawrence County.
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Xander Lee churns for yards in Friday's loss. Lee scored two first-half touchdowns, giving him three this season.

Road struggles are beginning to become a theme for the Pioneers.

Warren County fell 28-21 on the road Friday in Lawrence County, dropping the team to 2-2 this season, with both losses coming away from Nunley Stadium.

The Pioneers continue to be their own worst enemy away from home, especially on special teams. Warren County fumbled away two kickoff returns and had a pair of punts blocked against the Wildcats, mistakes new coach Matt Turner knows have to be eliminated going forward.

“We’ve tried to get some of our players off the field on special teams. We’ve taken the chance to have some green, young guys out there,” said Turner. “We’re going to have to make some adjustments and ask some guys to step up.

“We have to get back, watch the film and make corrections.They came up the middle three times and we didn’t adjust.”

Even with all the self-inflicted wounds, Warren County still had a chance to rally late. The Pioneers were at the Wildcat 37 with the ball late, but back-to-back magical finishes didn’t happen.

Quarterback CJ Taylor’s deep pass down the sideline on fourth-and-15 was dropped, ending any hope of recreating last week’s late rally against Rockvale.

Xander Lee helped the Pioneers dig out of an early hole after they fell behind right from the start. The junior tailback rushed for two touchdowns in the second quarter, turning a 12-0 deficit into a 14-12 Pioneer lead at halftime.

Lee ran for a six-yard score midway through the second quarter, then added a 19-yard blast through the middle with 18.9 seconds to go in the first half.

Jay Rozier added the team’s third score, rushing for a two-yard touchdown to give his team a 21-20 lead in the third quarter.

Ultimately, the Pioneers couldn’t overcome their miscues. Lawrence County built an early lead after the Pioneers fumbled the opening kickoff. The Wildcats scored six plays later on a short field.

Lawrence County made it 12-0 near the end of the first quarter, blocking a Pioneer punt and recovering in the end zone.

The Wildcats took the lead for good after a Taylor interception, scoring on the first play of the fourth quarter when Derrick Young ran for an 11-yard touchdown on the possession following the turnover to make it 28-21.

Warren County fumbled the ensuing kickoff, but was able to get a stop to give itself another chance to take the lead. After sniffing out a fake punt, the Pioneers took over at their own 36, but stalled near midfield.

Turner decided to punt with 6:38 to play, but the Wildcats broke through again with the block.

Playing with their backs against the wall and time dwindling down, the Pioneers turned back the Wildcats on fourth-and-1. Ryland Holder and Noah Martin built a wall at the line of scrimmage, giving their team the ball back one last time.

Taylor was able to convert one fourth down with his legs at midfield, but his last pass didn’t connect.

Turner has focused on the big picture since taking over, trying to focus on positivity with the Pioneers. Another disappointing road loss tested his resolve.

“It’s tough. The guys in the locker room know what we’re up against and the adversity. I put them in bad spots,” said Turner. “They’re fighting and competing and doing everything we’ve asked. I have to do my job better.”

Warren County will try to keep its unbeaten streak at home alive Friday against the 1-3 Blackman Blaze. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.