Huskies’ football season ends with ‘unfortunate’ 33-20 home loss to Philomath

Sweet Home football lost its final game of the season at home on Friday, Oct. 28, falling 33-20 to Philomath. The game put both the Huskies and Warriors at 3-6 to end the season.

Sweet Home finished the year sixth out of seven teams in 4A’s Special District 3.

The Huskies held a 12-7 lead at halftime, before the Warriors put up 26 unanswered points in the second half.

“It didn’t go how we planned it. It was unfortunate,” said senior wide receiver Trenton Smith. “We lost. It wasn’t the best way to end your last game.”

“‘Unfortunate’ is about the only thing I could say,” Head Coach Ryan Adams said after the game. “It was kind of disappointing, obviously, with the score, but also with our behavior outside of the whistles.”

Seniors Von James and Brady Nichols, both receivers, were ejected from the game in the second half for verbal antics.

The game started out well for Sweet Home. The Huskies scored on their first possession, keeping the drive alive on fourth down and four with a 40-yard pass from quarterback Heath Nichol to Nichols, followed by a 10-yard touchdown pass, again from Nichol to Nichols. A failed two-point conversion made it 6-0 Sweet Home 2½ minutes into the game.

But Philomath would bounce right back with a touchdown to take the lead. Quarterback Kaden Muir threw to Hudson Rabb for a 30-yard gain, and then Muir broke tackles enroute to a 20-yard touchdown on a quarterback keeper. With the extra point, the score was 7-6 Philomath, still less than halfway into the first quarter.

Sweet Home made it to the Philomath 23-yard line on its next possession before turning it over on downs. The Huskies then stuffed the Warriors on their next possession, as defensive lineman Conner Rundell sacked Muir. Then, working with a short field, the Huskies scored on fourth and two with a 34 -yard touchdown pass from Nichol to Smith as the first quarter expired.

“I knew he was going to bite on a four,” Smith said of his touchdown, in which he caught a ball over the top of the Warrior defense. “So I just did a four-and-go. He bit, and I just ran right past him.” A failed two-point conversion made it 12-7 Sweet Home.

Philomath drove to the Sweet Home 28 to start the second quarter, but turned the ball over on downs after a pass to the end zone fell incomplete. The Huskies couldn’t get anything going on their next possession, going three and out, and a short punt by Jeremy Zook gave Philomath the ball at the Sweet Home 45.

But two plays later, the Warriors would fumble on an exchange, with Sweet Home linebacker Evan Jensen recovering the ball at his team’s 39. Still, Sweet Home couldn’t put together a drive on its next possession, and another short punt by Zook gave Philomath the ball again in Sweet Home territory, at the 47.

A turnover then once again cost the Warriors, as Nichols grabbed an interception and ran the ball to the Sweet Home 49 with 3:23 left in the half. Sweet Home would drive to the Warrior 25-yard line, but would turn the ball over on downs with 1:14 left, and the game score would remain 12-7 going into halftime.

Philomath got the ball first in the second half and promptly drove down the field, scoring on a six-yard run by Ty Olson and making the score 14-12 Philomath with 9:41 left in the third. Sweet Home’s James then fumbled on the ensuing kick return, giving the Warriors the ball at the Sweet Home 15.

Philomath took advantage of the opportunity, with Muir running in a one-yard touchdown on a quarterback sneak. Just like that, the score was 21-12 Philomath with 5:44 left in the third.

Sweet Home was forced to punt on its next possession, and Philomath drove 50 yards for another touchdown, as Olson caught a pass from Muir and avoided tacklers for a 21-yard touchdown.

The extra point kick was short, and the score became 27-12 Philomath with 1:34 left in the third. After the touchdown, an unsportsmanlike penalty was called against James, followed by him being ejected from the game.

Sweet Home was once again unable to score on its next possession, turning the ball over on downs. Philomath then put together another touchdown drive, with Olson running for a 19-yard touchdown. The point after snap went awry, making the score 33-12 Philomath with 7:30 left in the game.

Sweet Home got one last score on its next possession, however. A late hit against the Warriors helped move the Huskies to the Philomath 24, and Nichol threw to Deacon Bachand in the end zone for a 24-yard touchdown pass. “(Heath) rolled out right, and I heard my teammates say throw it to Deacon,” Bachand said.

On the two-point conversion attempt, a horsecollar was called against the Warriors and unsportsmanlike conduct was called against Sweet Home, with Nichols being ejected from the game. The offsetting penalties meant a replayed two-point conversion attempt, and a pass from Nichol to Smith secured the two points, making the score 33-20 Philomath with 6:35 left in the game.

Philomath got the ball back and drove to the Sweet Home 11, running out the clock. The Warriors then fumbled on an exchange, and Jensen jumped on the ball again, but there was only 18 seconds left in the game, and the final whistle sounded soon after.

Smith said he was expecting the Huskies to win before the game.

He thought that a lack of discipline was the main reason why Sweet Home came up short, mentioning “all of the penalties and (players) getting thrown out.”

As a positive, he noted “the brothership” that the Huskies displayed in the contest.

Bachand said “It sucks that we lost our last game and everything, but it was really fun. We made a lot of memories, and I think that’s the most important thing.”

He added “It sucks seeing the seniors go, but it was amazing to play with them.”

He noted that in the game, the Huskies “had a bunch of cheering, and holding each other accountable. We were making awesome plays and congratulating each other.”

Nichols said “I think that we played just to have fun. None of us cared what the score was. I made sure to let the guys know that we are not going anywhere, we are not going to the playoffs after this, nothing’s happening. So might as well enjoy it with the group one last time.”

Thinking back on the game, Nichols said “Everybody was in a good mood for 95% of it. We kept cheering each other on, and even after they got us on a couple big plays, we didn’t give up.”

He said the main reason his team came up short on the scoreboard was “We were just too focused on it being our last one and making sure that we were having fun.”

Adams thought his team would be more effective at stopping the Warriors, who run a triple option offense.

“I kind of expected to defend their option stuff better than we did,” he said. “But credit to them. They came in ready to play and got it done. We knew that the option’s tough to defend, especially when you can get a push, and that’s exactly what they did.”

He added that “Their quarterback did a really good job riding his first option and then being able to pull it late, which is kudos to coaching and preparation and stuff like that.”

On the other side of the ball, he said, “I thought we would be able to find offensive success a little bit better. We’ve got a lot of playmakers and stuff, but (Philomath) game planned pretty well and gave us a few different looks that we haven’t seen all year.

“It kind of took some time to adjust in our passing game.”

He also noted that “We kind of shot ourselves in the foot. We had a couple penalties that stalled drives, a couple passes batted down, and a couple passes in our hands we just dropped.”

Sweet Home’s 3-6 record matches their record last season and in 2019. In the COVID-19-shortened 2020 season, the Huskies went 2-4.