LACKAWANNA – In a clash between two of the top defensive teams in Class B, Lackawanna's combination of speed and strength proved to be too much for Pioneer as the top-seeded Steelers overwhelmed their foe, 32-0, in a Section VI Class B quarterfinal game Saturday.
Senior quarterback Noble Smith scored on three relatively short touchdown runs, while senior running back Khalil Horton and defensive end Jakwon Ingram found the end zone on highlight-reel type plays as Lackawanna advances to the semifinals for the second year in row by pitching its third straight shutout.
The Steelers came into the playoff game yielding the fewest points in Class B (70). The Panthers ranked third in scoring defense in Class B with 98.
Lackawanna's quickness off the ball proved to be too much as the Steelers held Pioneer to just 80 yards.
Player of the game: There are so many to choose from as several Steelers shined in this one but Horton gets the nod as he played well on both sides of the ball as usual. He rushed 12 times for 151 yards, scoring on a 70-yard TD run on the second play of the third quarter. He also made seven tackles.
Play of the game: The nod goes to Ingram and Danny Elvers. Elvers forced a fumble on a sack and Ingram recovered and raced to the house for the 15-yard touchdown during the final minute of the second quarter. That gave the Steelers, who scored on their only two drives of the first half, an 18-0 lead at halftime.
Play of the game II: How about a stuff of a running play on fourth-and-1 for no gain in the third quarter? Lackawanna's huge defensive tackle Damarr Currie and linebacker Chandell Wiggins combined to make it happen and end a potentially promising drive by the Panthers.
Stats: Noble Smith had a solid game as usual, completing 9-of-12 passes for 68 yards and rushing seven times for 60 yards – including touchdowns of 4, 1 and 4 yards. Manny Land had eight tackles and Ingram seven tackles with a sack and a touchdown.
Records: Lackawanna improves to 7-1, while Pioneer falls to 5-3.
Next: The Steelers host Maryvale in a semifinal game Saturday at Veterans Stadium. Pioneer, which made the playoffs for the first time in four years, will likely play a match-up game against a still to be determined opponent.