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FOOTBALL: Blocked punt fuels Sandy victory

Initially, the Pioneers didn't respond well to the cold and wet game time conditions — the likes of which they haven't practiced or played in since last year.

But an impassioned speech was delivered at halftime, one that woke everyone up while trailing by seven points. Then, midway through the third quarter, Sandy got all the energy it needed when C.J McKinnis blocked a punt deep in Liberty territory.

The Pioneers gained possession and scored what proved to be the winning touchdown in a 20-14 win over the Falcons Friday at Sandy High School.

With a victory over St. Helens last week, Sandy has its first two-game winning streak of the year as it prepares for No. 1 Sherwood, which handily beat No. 4 Wilsonville 35-14 Friday.

And when the Pioneers travel to face the Bowmen, they'll also face weather conditions similar to tonight, which caused havoc for both teams.

Sandy quarterback Justin Adams said the heavy rain made it almost impossible to throw the ball, even though he had three touchdown passes, all to senior wide receiver Blake Robison.

Neither offense was able to move the ball much, so both defenses ability to stop the run was critical.

Protecting a six-point lead with a quarter and a half to play, Sandy's defense made all the stops at the line and constantly forced the Falcons into punting situations.

The only real blemishes on defense where two blown coverages, which led to two long touchdown passes and a 14-7 halftime lead for Liberty.

But Sandy's bruisers made up for it after the offense fumbled twice in the fourth quarter.

First, the Pioneers defense forced the Falcons to punt with eight minuted remaining. Then, Sandy cornerback Chase Thometz intercepted a pass inside the red zone with a minute left in regulation, which secured the victory.