Alexander Turnovers Prove Costly Against Zane Trace

Posted on:

< < Back to

Zane Trace Head Coach Duane Hall met his team on the field after the game. The Pioneers kneeled looking up at Hall, who was in his first year back with Zane Trace.

“Regional finals. Is that unbelievable? That’s unbelievable,” he said.

Zane Trace’s defense forced seven turnovers to beat Alexander 34-21 and advance to the Pioneers’ first ever regional final.

The Pioneers leaned on their defense in the regular season as they averaged 2.4 takeaways per game.

This is nothing new to us,” Hall said. “We’ve been playing great defense all year.”

Friday was Zane Trace’s first regional semi-final, so the Pioneers stepped things up with four takeaways in the first half.

It was all started by Pierce Mowery.

The Spartans ran trick plays early in the game. They started the game with a failed onside kick, but a wide-receiver pass on Alexander’s second drive proved more costly.

“I saw him look and he started to throw and the ball came off his hand,” Mowery said. “So I bit on it an  I took a risk, but it worked out.”

Mowery kicked off a shutout first half for the Zane Trace defense.

The superb defensive play for the Pioneers in the first half took weight off the offense’s shoulders, which wasn’t following plan A.

“We’ve been leaning on our defense in certain situations,” Hall said. “And we had to do that tonight.”

In the first quarter, quarterback Austin Harris left the game with a right ankle injury and didn’t return.

Joel Dunkle, who started at quarterback for the first six weeks before he himself was injured, returned to his role under center.

“He knows what he’s doing out there,” Hall said. “If you get him in the right play, he’ll make a big play for you.”

Dunkle played the last several weeks at running back. He used his speed to evade the Alexander pass rush and find open receivers. Dunkle scrambled several times and finished the game with 21 carries for 113 yards and a rushing touchdown. Before Harris left the game, he threw a touchdown pass to Dunkle.

Injury to his teammates forced Dunkle to lead his offense in arguably one of the biggest games in school history. Dunkle, like the rest of his team, stepped on to the big stage and performed above expectations.

That was the difference between Zane Trace and Alexander in the region semifinal. The Pioneers stole the show, while the Spartans couldn’t keep up.

“It’s beyond thought,” Hall said. “I can’t think of anything I’ve done prior to this or that I’ll do in the future that’s as special as this. This is a special place to be.”

Zane Trace will face top-seeded Wheelersburg in the Division 5, Region 17 final next week.