Wilkes-Barre/Scranton overpowers Horsemen, 82-49, to earn spot in American Conference Championship
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The Pioneers held the Kentucky Horsemen to just 14 second half points en route to a 82-49 win and are now headed to the American Conference championship game against Green Bay on Saturday at Wachovia Arena.
With the two teams exchanging touchdowns and the score eventually tied at 35 in the first half, the Pioneers scored 27 unanswered points to take a commanding 62-35 lead and never looked back.
The Horsemen struck first with a five play, 45-yard scoring drive when Jared Lorenzen hit Lonnell Dewalt on a 25-yard touchdown pass to take an early 7-0 lead. It would be the first of four touchdown receptions for Dewalt, who finished with 14 catches for 156 yards. He would catch all but six passes thrown by both Lorenzen and Justin Rascati.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (14-3) quickly tied the game two minutes later when Ryan Vena found Rich Musinski from five yards out to cap off a three-play, 17-yard scoring drive. Vena finished with 282-yards passing on 25-34 passing and 11 touchdowns. His 11 scores sets a af2 playoff record for touchdowns in a game.
Kentucky would re-take the lead after Lorenzen found Dewalt once again in the back of the end zone for a seven-yard scoring drive before the Pioneers tied the game at 14 when Vena hit Irving Campbell for an 11-yard scoring strike. Campbell, who was named the JLS Ironman of the Game as well as receiving The Big Catch of the Game Award, grabbed 10 passes for 154 yards and seven touchdowns, which tied an af2 playoff record.
The trend would continue with neither team unable to stop the other until the Pioneer defense stopped Kentucky on its first possession of the second half. After Rascati's pass fell incomplete on fourth and 14 from the Horsemen 12-yard line, Vena wasted little time in extending the Pioneer lead. He would hook up with Musinski on the first play of the ensuing drive, giving them a 48-35 lead which they would not relinquish.
The Pioneer defensive unit would come up big once again as Troy Blackwell sacked Lorenzen on the Kentucky 17-yard line on a fourth and nine play on the next drive. Just like before, Vena would capitalize as it took him just one play to find JJ Outlaw in the end zone to give the Pioneers a 55-35 lead.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton would eventually score again before the Horsemen finally put up their first score of the second half when William Mulder scampered 56 yards on the ensuing kickoff. Kentucky's offense reached the end zone just once in the second half after scoring on all but two possessions in the first. The Pioneer defense held Kentucky to 55 total yards in the second half that included just seven receptions.
The Pioneer defensive unit picked up four sacks on the night with Blackwell tallying one-and-a-half. Royce Morgan and Justin Parrish each had a solo sack, while LaBrose Hedgemon led the way with six solo tackles.