Orange didn’t even give fans a chance to settle into their seats before putting Friday’s OCC-Capital Division battle against visiting Watkins Memorial out of reach, scoring 42 first-half points en route to a 49-22 win.
Already up 7-0 thanks to a 29-yard touchdown run by Luke Wolford on the first series of the game, the Pioneers’ Brandon Schoen picked off a pass to totally demoralize the Warriors, not just ending what could have been a positive drive — potentially of the game-tying variety — but returning it 28 yards to the house as an added bonus. Bryan Schrader added the extra point to make it a 14-0 game less than five minutes into the action.
After Watkins Memorial (3-4, 1-3 OCC Capital) went three-and-out on its ensuing possession, Orange (5-2, 3-1 OCC Capital) let Schoen take over on the offensive side. The senior didn’t touch the ball on the first drive, but made up for it on the second, starting with a 10-yard scamper to midfield before a 20-yard run moved the ball into enemy territory. Michael Forbes swung out of the backfield, making a grab to move the ball to the nine-yard line, quarterback Kofi Hill pushed to the two on a keeper and, you guessed it, Schoen powered into the end zone from there, making it a 21-0 game with 4:11 to go in the opening quarter.
The Warriors didn’t help their cause on the next possession, fumbling to set Orange up at the Watkins 32-yard line. Hill started the drive with a 30-yard completion to Wolford, moving the ball to the two-yard line, and Forbes cleaned it up from there, pushing forward for a two-yard TD run, making it 28-0 with :44 left in the first.
While the offense was cruising, the defense was allowing next to nothing. On Watkins’ first drive of the second quarter, Orange’s Jacob Lewis and Alexander Smith combined for a sack, resulting in a nine-yard loss to all but wipe out the drive before it even started.
It was then, after the Pioneers got the ball with just more than six minutes until the intermission, they struck again, this time via a 43-yard TD pass from Hill to Daniel Bull, ballooning the lead to 35-0 with 5:32 left in the second.
Watkins finally got on the board the next time it got its hands on the ball, getting a 61-yard TD run from Ron Carruthers-Kimball to erase the shutout, but Orange grabbed the momentum back just as fast as it lost it, making it a 42-7 game when Hill hit Schoen for a 27-yard touchdown pass with 1:29 left until halftime.
The Pioneers scored just once in the second half — a Larry Rhode two-yard run — while the Warriors got a nine-yard TD run from Evan Din, a two-point conversion and a 73-yard TD connection between quarterback Ben Shroyer and Hunter Holton, all in the fourth quarter, to account for the final margin.
Orange leaders included Hill, who completed eight of his 15 passes for 166 yards and two TDs; Schoen, who had 54 rushing yards to go with his touchdowns; and the duo of Bull and Wolford, who combined for five receptions and 99 yards.