Pioneer Win Brings Playoffs Home
11-7-15 by Chandler Vessels
It wasn't the first time that the Stillwater Pioneers put together a comeback.
Despite being down early to Lawton-Eisenhower and tied with only five minutes left, the Pioneers scored two touchdowns in those
final five minutes to defeat the Eagles 33-27 on Friday night.
It was the perfect parallel to their season, which also was headed in the wrong direction early. Stillwater started its season 0-3,
but went 5-2 after those first three losses. In a surreal turn of events, the Pioneers will host a playoff game for the first time in nine
years when they face Sand Springs next week.
"To be honest, I didn't really think that we would get this far," running back Josiah Castleberry said. "We just fought though that
adversity and got to this point. I'm really proud of these guys and just being a part of that."
With the score knotted at 21 and 5:35 to play, Stillwater had the ball on its own 39-yard line. Jace Brownlee took the snap and
started running. An opening presented itself and he burst through. With Eagles defenders tailing him the whole way, Brownlee
escaped for the 61-yard score. It came just seconds after Lawton-Ike's R.J. Fisher scored to tie the game. The Pioneers missed
the extra point, but led 27-21.
After a defensive stop, the Pioneers had the ball again and a chance to seal the game. Castleberry did just that. With 1:58 left,
Castleberry sprinted 47 yards for the touchdown to put Stillwater up two possessions. The two-point conversion failed, but it didn't
matter. Neither team would score again as Stillwater went on to win.
"After the past, just seeing all those other teams starting to make a comeback, we have to fight to the last second," Castleberry
said. "We just had to do something about it so we could pull out the win. And we did."
Castleberry led an effective Pioneer rushing attack, gaining 89 yards and two touchdowns off of eight carries. The team continued
to go to the run, and it paid off; they rushed for 304 yards as a whole.
"In 'Remember the Titans' they said it's like Novocain, you've just got to give it time and it'll work," coach Tucker Barnard said.
"Just pounding it and pounding it and pounding it. Our offensive linemen are continuing to fight and I'll say again, we get to the
end of the game and we've got backs that are fresh. Josiah breaks another one tonight and that's three weeks in a row that he
breaks one. Just a lot of credit to the offensive player and coaches for just staying at it and keeping their head down and keeping
their nose down and pushing."
With a season of comeback behind them, the Pioneers are wasting no time preparing for their playoff matchup. Barnard said that
the team will not waste the two hour drive home, and will spend it watching film of Sand Springs.
"It's going to be really hype," running back Connor Wilcoxen said. "We're ready for Sand Springs."