FOOTBALL: Saline Shuts Down Pioneer, 41-0, Stays On Top in SEC Red

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The Hornets celebrate the game's first touchdown - Tate Bezeau's TD catch from CJ Carr.

Saline's defense pitched its first shutout of the year in a 41-0 victory over Pioneer Friday on Homecoming Night at Hornet Stadium.

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QB CJ Carr threw three touchdown passes without an interception and Zach Antal rushed for two touchdowns and also caught a touchdown pass as Saline improved to 6-0 overall and 5-0 in the SEC Red. 

The Hornets, undefeated, were the obvious favorites against a Pioneer whose only win came via forfeit. But Saline didn't take their opponents lightly.

"I was pretty happy with how we played. We certainly didn't overlook anybody. Pioneer had our attention. We took care of business," Palka said. "At half time, the only thing we were disappointed with was that we didn't score at the end of the half. The defense gave up a little bit of yardage but then stiffened."

Palka said the shutout was something the Saline defense deserved.

"I'm excited for the kids. We've been close a number of times late in the game and our down-the-line guys gave up the shutout," Palka said. "The defense has really worked hard. They earned it and deserved it, so it was great to see."

The Hornets remain in first place, ahead of Huron and Bedford, both of whom are 4-1 in the SEC Red. Saline visits Bedford next week with a chance to tighten its grip on first place.

The Hornets opened the scoring on their first possession of the game. CJ Carr connected with Roman Laurio for a big gain through the air and then Carr tossed a touchdown pass to Tate Bezeau for the game's first touchdown. Saline led 7-0 after the extra-point kick by Riley Behrman.

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Pioneer's next drive went nowhere and Saline's defense stopped a 4th-and-one play to get the ball back at midfield. The Hornets went up 14-0 after a Carr through a screen pass to Zach Antal who then scampered into the end zone before another extra-point kick by Behrman.

Early in the second quarter, Saline increased its lead to 21-0. Carr launched a 45-yard pass to Garrett Baldwin who made a diving catch as he fell into the endzone.

Saline struck one more time in the quarter. This one was set up by another long passing play between Carr and Laurio.

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Antal punched it in from there.

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To start the third quarter, the Hornet defense forced a three-and-out. Working with a fairly short field, the Hornets went to work. Sam Frush and Antal picked up yards. And then Carr threw to Laurio, who deflected the ball as he was falling and then caught the ball before it hit the ground.

From just a couple yards out and with a big push from offensive line, Antal barged through the defense and crossed the goal-line. Saline led 34-0.

The Hornets added one more touchdown in the third quarter to conclude the scoring. Carr found Caid Fox in the corner of the end zone. Fox, making a running catch, managed to get one foot in the end zone.

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