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Second-half uprising sends Pioneers by Desert Shields

Canyon Springs was on the verge of an explosion Thursday at Cheyenne.

The Pioneers had just finished a 12-play, 96-yard drive to take a 14-0 third-quarter lead.

And after the Pioneer defense forced the Desert Shields into a quick three-and-out, running back Zaviontay Stevenson only needed one play to ignite Canyon Springs.

Stevenson exploded through Cheyenne’s defense on a 45-yard jaunt to the end zone that put the No. 8 Pioneers in control on the way to a 36-0 victory.

“I was just trying to make a big play to try to make something happen on offense and get the team going,” said Stevenson, who had 104 yards on 12 carries. “I saw an opening and just tried my best to get into the end zone.”

Stevenson’s TD run capped the Pioneers’ dominating third quarter as they outgained the Desert Shields, 140-7.

Canyon Springs (2-0) gained only 130 yards in the first half, compared to Cheyenne’s 113 yards, and the Pioneers were whistled for eight penalties for 70 yards in the half.

Stevenson said his team wanted to take care of business in the second half.

“We wanted to show we were a better team than that,” said Stevenson. “We were just blocking and executing better, and we called the right plays at the right time and we just executed them.”

Canyon Springs began turning things around on its 96-yard drive earlier in the third quarter.

Quarterback Bradley Alexander scrambled before finding Clayton Jones with an 18-yard pass in the left corner of the end zone to cap the march and give the Pioneers a 14-0 lead.

Alexander threw for three second-half touchdown passes and finished with 280 yards passing, connecting on 14 of 24 attempts.

The Pioneers defense held Cheyenne (0-3) to just 146 yards of offense for the game, but tightened the screws in the second half and allowed just 33 of those yards after halftime.

Linebacker Joe Jackson had three sacks to anchor the Canyon Springs defense.

“Our linebackers were filling the holes and stopping them from running the ball, and that was the key,” said Jackson. “We feed off of each other the whole game. Our defense played a big role, and we got stops to give our offense more opportunities to score.”

With Jackson and the defense shutting down the Desert Shields, the Pioneers added two more scores in the fourth quarter, as Gregory Banks hauled in a 29-yard reception for a score, and Marcel Selmon caught a 7-yard TD pass.

Casey Alison led Canyon Springs receivers with 102 yards on four receptions.

Jackson said the Pioneers feel they have work to do, but after their defense controlled their first two opponents, they are headed in the right direction.

“We are building something,” said Jackson, “and we are making momentum for the rest of the season.”

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