The Pierz Pioneers eliminated the Perham Yellowjackets in the Class 3A State Quarterfinals on Saturday in Alexandria. The Pioneers (12-0) advanced to the state semifinals with a 58-16 victory over Perham.
Pierz scored a pair of first quarter touchdowns on a 4 yard run by Blake Kowalczyk and a 15 yard run by Matt Algarin. Maverick Kowalczyk booted both extra-point kicks as the Pioneers established a 14-0 lead.
Perham got on the board at 10:40 of the second quarter on a 43-yard run by quarterback Colton Hackel. Finn Diggins then hauled in the two-point conversion pass from Hackel as the Yellowjackets trimmed the lead to 14-8. Preston Veith was on the receiving end of a 15 yard aerial from Peter Schommer at 8:30 of the second quarter and Maverick Kowalczyk carried the ball into the end zone for the two-point conversion to make the score 22-8. At 2:38 of the quarter Blake Kowalczyk scored on a one-yard run and Maverick Kowalczyk kicked the extra-point for a 29-8 halftime lead.
The third quarter was scoreless, but Pierz scored a pair of TD’s in the first 2:14 of the fourth quarter to open up a 44-8 advantage. Touchdowns were scored by Carter Moulzolf on a 20 yard run and Algarin on a 9-yard run. Michael Leidenfrost caught a two-point conversion pass from Schommer after the Moulzolf score and Mason Zajac added the PAT kick after Algarin scored. Finn Diggins caught a 14-yard touchdown pass from Hackel at 5:34 of the fourth and Dawson Kellogg ran the ball in for the conversion, cutting the Pierz lead to 44-16. The Pioneers got a 60-yard run by Leidenfrost and a 56 yard run from Benjamin Virnig to conclude the scoring. Mason Rach ran the ball in for two points after the Leidenfrost TD.
Pierz had a total of 438 (397 rushing, 41 passing) yards and Perham finished with 275 (197 rushing, 78 passing).
The Pioneers were led by Michael Leidenfrost (10 carries, 114 yards, 1TD), Matt Algarin (18 carries, 103 yards, 2 TDs) and Blake Kowalczyk (18 carries, 91 yards, 2 TDs) on the ground. Schommer was 3-for-4 throwing the football.
Colton Hackel led Perham with 15 carries and 115 yards. He also completed 8-of-16 passes for 78 yards. Noah Rooney caught four passes for 56 yards and Diggins had 3 catches for 18 yards. Diggins led the defense with 13 (10 solo, 3 assists) tackles. Isaac Lung added 9 (6 solo, 3 assists) tackles, while Brian Ramos and Chas Melvin were each in on 8 tackles.