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Pioneers Fight, Lose Close One
In a game filled with big plays, it was the play the Stillwater Pioneers did not make that decided their game with Sand Springs.

Quarterback Jon Littell's final pass was tipped several times before hitting the Memorial Stadium turf Friday night as the Pioneers lost in heartbreaking fashion 44-41 to the Sandites.

"That was quite a ballgame," head coach Tucker Barnard said. "They fought and fought until the end. Culture tells us that we should have quit a long time ago and these kids refuse to quit. Not only that, I think they're getting stronger."

In arguably their best showing of the season, the Pioneers (1-7, 1-3) struck quickly, scoring on their first possession of the game on a Littell pass to Brandon Prather. In just his second start at quarterback, Littell was on target throughout the game, completing 15 of 21 passes for 203 yards and four touchdowns.

"His play was incredible tonight," Barnard said. "He threw the ball so well. He only threw one incompletion in the first half. He's seeing the field so well. It just shows you what kind of kid he is and the kind of competitor he is."

The Pioneers and Sandites were in a shootout from the start, trading scores throughout the first half. At the intermission, a missed extra point was all that separated the two teams as Sand Springs held a 28-27 advantage.

The sparks continued to fly in the second half. Littell hit Spencer Parsons with a bullet to give the Pioneers a 34-28 lead. The Sandites quickly countered and regained the lead. King Williams replied with a 68 yard dash down the sideline to give the Pioneers the fourth quarter lead. It would be their last of the night.

After a Sand Springs touchdown with nine minutes left, fortune shone upon the Pioneers as the Sandites missed the point after attempt and the score was tied at 41. After marching down the field, the Pioneers turned the ball over on downs, giving Sand Springs a chance at a final drive.

Senior quarterback Cody Hale led the Sandites down the field but a third down sack by Cyntrell Carden with 42 seconds remaining knocked the Sandites back to the 22 yard line of Stillwater. The 39-yard kick was good, giving SHS little time to work with.

Jon Littell showed the poise of a senior leader, leading his team to the Sandite 30 yard line with no timeouts left. With six seconds left, he heaved a pass to the end zone, where it was batted away. Barnard knows his players deserved a better ending to truly special game.

"I'm so proud of these boys," Barnard said. "I don't usually believe in moral victories. But if by moral victory you mean we're better now than we were before, I would say yes, we are."
10-26-13 by Glen Brockenbush