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Sandy fights and claws but falls to Barlow 27-20

The Pioneers succumb to Barlow rushing attack
by: Chris Krieger, Running back/wide receiver Jake Fenwick has emerged as a valuable offensive weapon for the Sandy Pioneers in 2006.

It looked like the Barlow Bruins were going to run roughshod over Sandy's football team on Friday night, beginning the game with Jerell Ramos' 85-yard kickoff return for a score.

The Bruins even manufactured a 21-0 second quarter lead over the visiting Pioneers, thanks to two touchdown runs from fullback Josh McGraw.

But Sandy refused to back down.

Pioneer quarterback A.J. Schnell led a 74-yard drive in the second quarter that was capped by a 10-yard touchdown pass to fullback Chris Houle.

Houle, returning from a suspension the previous week, blasted into a defender on his way to the end zone.

'Yeah, he played well,' Sandy coach Todd Quinsey said. 'He does a good job. He plays everywhere for us, kind of a backup to every position. Having him and Kevin Warren definitely helped us.'

Warren, the team's starting right guard, also returned from a suspension the previous week.

Schnell guided Sandy to two more touchdowns before the half, but missed an extra point following Joe Mafara's 15-yard touchdown run, making the score Barlow 21, Sandy 20.

Ultimately, though, Sandy's comeback would stop there, despite some late game heroics from Schnell and receiver Blake Bithell.

For the second week in a row, the Pioneers had difficulty with an opposing team's rushing attack, and that was the difference in the game.

Malcolm Johnson scored Barlow's final touchdown on a 1-yard run with 3:32 remaining in the fourth quarter.

The sophomore tailback ran for 191 of Barlow's 266 total rushing yards on the night.

His backfield mate, McGraw, finished with 18 yards on 5 carries, including the two first half touchdown runs.

'They're really good offensively,' Quinsey said. 'They're not very fancy, but they're good at what they do. They dare you to stop them.'

Schnell ran for two consecutive first downs late in the game, advancing the Pioneers into Bruin territory. The junior quarterback then completed a 29-yard desperation pass to Bithell with two seconds left.

Bithell pinballed around a few defenders but was tackled at the 17 yard-line as time ran out.

'Blake Bithell - that guy just makes plays,' Quinsey said. 'He's such a gamer.'

Sandy amassed 229 yards on the ground, including 116 yards on 13 carries by Joe Mafara, 87 yards on 12 carries by Jake Fenwick, and 24 yards on 7 carries by Schnell.

Schnell completed 9-of-18 passes for 155 yards, 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions.

His Bruin counterpart, Alex Hymel, mainly handed off to Barlow's fine stable of running backs, although he did complete 8-of-11 passes for 104 yards with 0 interceptions.

Looking ahead: The Gresham Gophers will travel to Sandy for a 7 p.m. game on Friday Sept.29.

Gopher running back Peter DeBois ran for 212 yards and three touchdowns in a game versus Hood River Friday night.