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Preds take down National Champion Pioneers

Posted 6/12/2013

By Ben Peterson
Leader-Telegram staff
It might not have been exactly what coach Martin Adams had in mind, but the Chippewa Valley Predators will take it.
Trailing 6-0 late in the second quarter, Chance Garner's long pass fell just short of wide receiver Reggie Houston's hands, instead deflecting high in the air off of the hands of a St. Paul Pioneers defender.
In that moment as the ball floated freely, Houston recognized that he had a second chance and grabbed the ball, shook off several defenders and pounded his way into the end zone for a 50-yard touchdown.
It was the eventual game-winning play, as the Predators held on to defeat the defending Northern Elite Football League champion Pioneers 14-6 on Saturday at Carson Park.
"I knew it was a play that had to be made," said Houston, who finished the game with four catches for 84 yards. "If it didn't come from me it had to come from somewhere so I just went up and made the play."
The Predators trailed after an early touchdown run but regained all the momentum on Houston's miraculous catch.
Montae Bailey added a four-yard TD run early in the fourth quarter to seal the win for Chippewa Valley (3-1).
"It was really refreshing to see us play well on all three facets of the game," Adams said. "It was just a great effort. Our players bought into the scheme that we brought in this week for a hard opponent and we executed well."
Garner led the Predators offensively as he completed 11-of-22 pass attempts for 183 yards.
Despite throwing two interceptions and losing a fumble, Garner was on when it mattered most. Ten of his 11 completions resulted in a first down for the Predators.
Houston led the receiving core, but David Akins grabbed four passes for 53 yards and Joseph Mapson had two catches for 36 yards.
Houston's heroics not only contributed to a key play but also displayed the growth that Houston has made lately as a receiver.
"I'm really proud of Reggie," Adams said. "Reggie has stepped his game up immensely. He's being more aggressive with his route running and going to get the ball. It's nice to see him having fun right now."
Bailey led the rushing attack with 74 yards on 14 attempts, while Deshay Hudson added 35 yards on eight carries for the Predators.
"Our running back core, they're unselfish," Adams said. "Every one of them brings something different to the table."
After a 71-8 thrashing of the Central Wisconsin Spartans last week and a win over the defending champs on Saturday, the Predators are out to prove they're among the best in the league.
"I think, honestly, it is a statement win," Adams said. "But we have to have a short memory. Bad things can happen to you if you get on cloud nine fast."
More importantly, the Predators got an opportunity to test themselves against one of the league's elite teams.
"We expected this to be a tough football game," Adams said. "It was great to be in a situation like this. We needed to be battle tested. We needed to be in a situation to test our heart and test our character and these are the games that make us better."

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