STERLING — The Golden Warriors and Pioneers kicked off a new era in their budding rivalry Friday at Roscoe Eades Stadium, as Sterling’s defense introduced itself to Alleman in a 34-6 win in Sterling’s first Western Big 6 Conference game in its new league.
Alleman’s offense struggled to get on track most of the night, fumbling on its first drive and punting on the next four.
Alleman’s defense showed initial success as well as the Pioneers held the state's third-ranked Class 5A club to 13 points in the first half, but the Golden Warriors scored twice in the third quarter and added another in the fourth to run away for the victory.
Alleman (0-3, 0-1 Big 6) did manage 153 rushing yards and 58 more passing.
“They kept really good contain on the outside and they were blitzing their linebackers,” Alleman standout Nate Sheets said. “Overall, most of the game we picked it up pretty well, but they kind of won us over and got a push on the offensive and defensive lines.”
After both teams fumbled on their first drives of the night, Sterling cashed in on its second drive. Cooper Willman went 28 yards on an option play on fourth down for the score. The extra point was no good, so Sterling led 6-0 with 1:53 to play in the first.
Sterling (3-0, 1-0 Big 6) burned away most of the second quarter on its next drive. Taking over at their own 43, the Warriors were initially knocked back by a pair of penalties.
Looking at a first-and-20 at their own 33, the Golden Warriors then embarked on a 17-play drive burning more than 8 minutes off the clock. Willman converted a third-and-13 with a 16-yard scramble, then converted a fourth-and-5 with a pass to Noel Aponte for 13 yards. Facing a fourth-and-3 at the Alleman 25, Willman kept it himself and got to the 16 for a first down.
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Moments later, Willman converted a fourth-and-goal at the one with a keeper up the middle for the Warriors’ second score of the night.
Alleman managed 44 total yards and three first downs in the first half.
The Pioneers’ first drive of the game ended in a fumble, which Trevon Jordan recovered for Sterling.
On Alleman’s next drive, Sheets converted a third-and-10 with a 13-yard scramble, but a motion penalty two plays later knocked Alleman backwards and the Pioneers were forced to punt.
Alleman’s only other first-half drive went three-and-out.
Both defenses stepped up on the initial drives of the third quarter, with Sterling set up at the Pioneers’ 37 thanks to a pair of short punts from Alleman and a Willman punt that Aponte downed at the Alleman 1. Given the short field, Sterling handed the ball to Aponte, who burst up the middle, breaking a tackle and going 37 yards for the score.
On Alleman’s ensuing drive, Quintin Spaulding stepped in front of a Sheets pass into the flat and returned it to the Pioneers’ 3. Jahshawn Howard punched in the rushing score on the next play to make it 27-0.
The Pioneers got on the board with 8:51 left in the game when quarterback Sheets found Lakin Calloway in the end zone for a 37-yard touchdown pass.
“I was getting blitzed so I stepped back and ran outside the pocket,” Sheets said. “Saw Lakin Calloway and Paulie Rouse downfield behind the players so I heaved it down there to see what I could do.”