Penalties Hurt Pioneers In Week Four Loss
9-25-16 by Sam Grubenhoff
The referees got their money's worth Friday night in Stillwater.
The Pioneers struggled to find any rhythm in 21-14 loss to Deer Creek at Pioneer Stadium, committing 11 penalties.
Stillwater coach Tucker Barnard said he wasn't sure went wrong.
"The got us on some holding, and I think it's probably just straining a little bit," Barnard said. "We just weren't trusting ourselves.
You get beat a couple of times, and you don't want to get be, so you grab on."
When the Pioneers didn't hold, junior quarterback Garrett Leming was running for his life.
On third-and-19 from Stillwater's 34 with 5:18 left, the Pioneers needed a score to tie. Leming dropped back, felt pressure then
rolled to his left, turned back and started zigzagging inside the tackle box. Three Deer Creek defenders brought Leming down for
a 5-yard loss.
Junior offensive lineman Stone Mesa said his unit was having issues protecting its quarterback.
"We were struggling a little bit," Mesa said. "Yes sir, we were."
Leming finished with minus 14 yards on 10 carries, getting sacked twice.
The Pioneers (2-2 overall, 0-1 6A II-2) were not the same team after their opening drive.
A week after forcing a fumble and scoring on their opening drive against Mustang, the Pioneers started quickly again. Senior
running back Josiah Castleberry carried the ball six times on Stillwater's opening drive for 50 yards, including a 5-yard touchdown
run to put Stillwater up 7-0.
Castleberry finished with 133 yards on 19 carries with two touchdowns.
Stillwater punted on its next three possessions, for Leming struggled to find his receivers on third-and-long. Leming overthrew a
wide-open Connor Wilcoxen streaking toward the end zone with less than a minute left in the first quarter.
Barnard tried to fix his dormant passing game in second quarter with freshman quarterback Gunnar Gundy to no avail.
Deer Creek (1-3, 1-0) smothered Gundy's receivers, and he struggled, going 5-for-10, with a penalty negating his only highlight, a
61-yard touchdown pass to Leming, who lined up as a receiver with Gundy in the lineup.
Gundy said he didn't think the quarterback switch affected the team much, but he was sent back to the bench in the third
"It's a little different for me," Gundy said. "I'm used to just staying in the game, finishing the game."
Despite the loss, Mesa said the team should look only forward.
"I'm just gonna quote my coach, Charlie Johnson, and say, 'turn and run,'" Mesa said. "'Keep on our horse.'"