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Tripped up by Tigers
Pioneers see late lead slip away
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Pioneer tailback Braylon Grayson plows over DeKalb County linebacker Johnny Skinner in a physical game Friday night in Smithville. In addition to his play on offense, Grayson had an interception that set up a second-quarter TD. - photo by James Clark
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Alex van Vuuren, left, and Nate Elrod celebrate after Elrod scampered 72 yards for a TD to put the Pioneers up 27-20 with 1:22 left in the third. - photo by James Clark
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Pioneer wingback Jaythan Pleasant outruns DeKalb County linebacker Tyler Estes to get to the corner. Pleasant showed his explosiveness Friday night. - photo by James Clark

WCHS played a wild regular season opener at DeKalb County on Friday with 69 points scored between the teams. The Tigers beat the Pioneers, 35-34, getting the decisive points on a successful 2-point conversion with 1:04 left.

Warren County was up by two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, 34-20, but DeKalb County rallied for the final 15 points, then held the Pioneers on their final possession to preserve the win.

“It isn’t the end-all, be-all. It’s not the end of the season,” said WCHS coach Matt Turner after the tough loss. “We were right there with a very good DeKalb County team, and that’s a very good Pioneer football team in there. I’ve got to do a better job of having them prepared.”

The win evens the fierce border rivalry series at 9-9.

DeKalb County coach Steve Trapp said, “We were opportunistic. We made some plays when we had to. It was battle back-and-forth all night long. We kept shooting ourselves in the foot in the first half. We’d move the ball quite well on offense but then have turnovers in the red zone or have major penalties on first down that put us behind the chains and made it real difficult. Ultimately, we just keep telling our kids all the time, it’s about the next play.”

The first quarter saw three touchdowns.

DeKalb QB Briz Trapp threw a 33-yard pass on a third down to Holden Trapp for a Tiger touchdown. A failed extra point left them up 6-0, but then the Pioneers received the ball.

On Warren County’s first offensive play, Nate Elrod made a 41-yard sideline pass to Alex van Vuuren who has shown to be a strong wide receiver.

This generated momentum and Dawson Haley later rushed for 15 yards for a first down to the 19-yard line. Braylon Grayson and Elrod together rushed 15 yards for a first down to the 7. 

From there, Elrod ran the ball around the right side for a Pioneer touchdown, and with a good extra point WC led 7-6 with just over 2 minutes left in the first quarter.

As Beckham Scott kicked off to DeKalb, Holden Trapp made the return and weaved around Warren’s defense to score a touchdown from the kickoff, 12-7. He would later score another touchdown from a kickoff in the third quarter, scoring the Tigers’ first three TDs. 

Big-play Braylon Grayson made an interception of a pass over the middle and returned it 26 yards to set up the second TD for the Pioneers. Grayson scored it himself, plowing up the middle from 4 yards out, 14-12 at the half.

To start the second half, Pleasant rushed for 55 yards for a first down at the 10 yard line. A penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct would bring the ball back to the 20, but that didn’t stop the Pioneers as they made another first and goal at the 9 yard line.

Pleasant would finish the drive with a 5-yard TD running around right end. 

The third quarter saw another touchdown for each team, including DeKalb’s Holden Trapp with the other touchdown from the kickoff and a 72-yard sprint by Elrod with just over 1:00 left in the quarter. 

On Elrod’s big play, he faked the ball to Pleasant but kept it himself around left end. The entire Tiger defense went with the fake and all Elrod had to do was plow through one tackle and he ran untouched down the sideline to the end zone.

Before the quarter ended, DeKalb dropped the kickoff which was recovered by van Vuuren at the 19-yard line. Pleasant made it first and goal to end the third quarter.

WC opened the final quarter with a touchdown by Dawson Haley for 6 yards giving the Pioneers a 14-point lead, 34-20. 

This is where the Pioneers’ luck would turn. 

DeKalb running back Colby Barnes gained 18 yards and Briz gained 16 to get to a first down at the 24-yard line. A 24-yard pass to Malachi Trapp on a deep slant gave the Tigers their fourth TD and the Pioneers were up 34-27.

After Warren County punted, Barnes rushed for 17 yards and gained an additional 20 in catches to score another touchdown to make it 34-33. 

DeKalb County was prepared to kick the extra point, but the Pioneers were whistled for encroachment, moving the ball closer to the goal line. The extra yardage was enough to convince coach Trapp to go for 2 and Barnes punched it in from a power formation running left to account for the winning margin, 35-34.

The Pioneers had 1:04 left to get in field goal range but an intentional grounding call on first down derailed the drive before it could get started as DeKalb County survived.