Madras avenges previous football loss to Huskies with 26-20 OT win

Benny Westcott

By Benny Westcott

Of The New Era

Sweet Home’s first football game of the season was a wild back-and-forth contest, but visiting Madras was able to finally come out on top in overtime, winning 26-20.

The win gave the visitors revenge from last season, when Sweet Home beat Madras 14-13 on the White Buffaloes’ home turf. This season’s opener was just as tightly contested.

“It was a really fun game,” said Head Coach Ryan Adams. “We knew they were going to be good, and we knew that we could compete pretty well. And I thought we did.”

He said that seeing Madras on the schedule, “I really did think it had good potential to be a close game. I knew they were returning a lot and we’re returning a lot. They had a chip on their shoulder from the one that they kind of gave us last year. So they had a little bit extra to play for. I think at the end of the day they just did the little things better than we did.”

The game was strewn with penalties against both teams, with Sweet Home committing seven and Madras being called on 13. But the flags were particularly costly for Sweet Home, who gave up 81 yards on penalties, as opposed to 71 for Madras.

“I think that we lost the game ourselves with the amount of personal fouls and penalties that were self-inflicted,” Adams said, adding “They were just a little bit better at honing in on what they were doing, their craft. They stopped with their penalties, and we didn’t.”

He reiterated, “I really think the penalties lost us the game. We had a couple drives where we had them stopped in their tracks in third and long type of situations, and we got a good play except for the penalty on us. We gave them another shot and allowed them to take more time off of the clock.”

Wide receiver Brady Nichols had a positive outlook on the game overall, but agreed with his coach on the main reason the Huskies came up short.

“For it being the first game of the season I think that we did very well,” Nichols said. “I think that what killed us today was penalties. That’s definitely something that we can control. When we get that down, we’ve got a heck of a football team.”

Quarterback Heath Nichol said “We shot ourselves in the foot. That’s the bottom line. We just underestimated them.”

He added that “a lot of their offense was from our penalties. We stopped them and we just shot ourselves in the foot with the penalties on third and long.”

Wide receiver Trenton Smith agreed that a lack of discipline was the reason his team came up short.

“I expected it to be pretty close after last year,” Smith said. “We just didn’t execute how I thought we would have.”

On the positive side, he said “We kind of rallied back at the end. We kept going.”

The game started with the two teams trading three-and-out possessions. But Sweet Home would score the second time getting the ball. A pass from Nichol to Nichols followed by Nichols breaking a tackle brought the ball down to the Madras 25-yard line. Two plays later, Nichol threw again to Nichols on a slant that turned into a 19-yard touchdown pass. An errant snap led to a weak kick on the point-after attempt by Smith, but Sweet Home still got on the board first with a 6-0 lead.

Defensive lineman Jerico Jones broke up a pass on the next Madras possession that helped lead to a White Buffalo punt.

Sweet Home kept the momentum rolling when Nichols reeled in a one-handed snag on the home team’s sideline that took the ball down to the Madras 24-yard line. But later in the possession, a holding penalty brought back a big run by Nichol, all the way to the Madras 33-yard line. After being forced into a fourth and 12 situation, a long pass to the end zone from Nichol was intercepted by the White Buffalo’s Wade Simmelink. He ran it back to the Madras 18- yard line.

Madras drove down the field, and the drive was punctuated when quarterback Dru Boyle flicked the ball to Johan Poland for a 27-yard touchdown run. Poland knocked in the extra point to give the White Buffalo a 7-6 lead early in the second quarter.

Sweet Home’s next drive was extended by a quarterback keeper run by Nichol on fourth and two. On the next play, a big pass to Von James brought the ball down to the Madras 20-yard line. A subsequent pass to Zajic secured another first down, before Jeremy Zook broke through the Madras defense for a nine-yard touchdown run. A gritty run by Nichol on the two-point conversion attempt put the Huskies up 14-7 as he extended the ball over the plane through contact.

Madras answered on its next possession, aided greatly by two personal fouls on Sweet Home, as well as pass interference called on the Huskies on a White Buffalo heave to the end zone. Madras wrapped the drive up with a 14-yard touchdown pass from Boyle to Tyler Clarkson, who caught the ball in the corner of the end zone. The point after was good, knotting the game up at 14-14.

Sweet Home wasn’t able to get much going on its next possession, as a three-and-out forced a Zajic punt to the Sweet Home 49-yard line. But Sweet Home got the ball back soon enough when Nichols snagged an interception.

Sweet Home got a few plays in on offense after the Nichols pick, but the clock ran out and both teams ran to the locker room with the score tied at 14-14 at the game’s halfway point. Sweet Home planned some adjustments in the locker room.

“Defensively, we adjusted how we were going to take care of the bubbles and picks and stuff they were beating us up on,” Adams said. “We knew that we wanted to slow the game down a little bit and run the ball more. We got our quarterback more involved in the run game, which helped us.”

Sweet Home’s defense started the second half by forcing a three-and-out. On the offensive side of the ball, facing fourth and four, Adams decided to let his offense go for the first down, but Nichol was sacked, giving Madras the ball on the Sweet Home 46 -yard line.

But a few plays later, Rickey Erickson regained possession for the Huskies, snagging an interception off a tipped ball. Erickson was tackled at the Sweet Home 40-yard line.

Sweet Home went three-and-out on the next possession.

Madras’ next drive was extended on third and long after a late hit on the quarterback was called on Sweet Home. The White Buffalo took advantage, pushing the ball down the field and scoring on a six-yard run by James Lange.

The point after attempt was blocked, but Madras still secured a 20-14 lead with 9:25 left in the game.

A first down for Sweet Home on its next possession was thwarted by a man-downfield penalty and a dropped pass, leading to a three-and-out. But a booming punt by Zajic still pinned Madras on its own 17 yard line.

Following a three-and-out of its own, Madras’ punt wasn’t nearly as booming, giving Sweet Home the ball on the White Buffaloes’ 35-yard line.

Two plays later a chop block penalty pushed Sweet Home back to the 42 yard line. But defensive pass interference against Madras brought the ball back up all the way to the 27 yard line. Nichol then connected on a pass to Zajic for a first down, and Nichol ran on a keeper to the 10 yard line on a third and eight to extend the drive.

Two plays later Nichols was tackled in the backfield after catching a pass. But then, facing third and 11, Nichol scrambled toward the sideline and managed to run 11 yards past the line of scrimmage for a touchdown.

That tied the game at 20-20, and things were looking good for Sweet Home as Smith lined up to kick a go-ahead point after attempt with just 2:08 left in the game. But a false start called on the Huskies pushed Smith back further. When play resumed, Smith got the kick off, but it missed wide, squandering Sweet Home’s chance to take the lead.

Madras got the ball back on its own 31-yard line. A false start followed by a big sack by Sweet Home’s Jerico Jones forced the White Buffalo into a third-and-24 situation. An incomplete pass led to Madras punting with 1:07 left in the game. The punt rolled to the Sweet Home 47-yard line, and the Huskies had 52 seconds to try to make something happen.

Nichol immediately broke through on a quarterback keeper, running the ball down to the Madras 38 yard line. But on the next play, James fumbled when he was hit hard right after catching a pass, and Madras recovered with 34 seconds left.

The White Buffalo managed to march to the Sweet Home 37-yard line. A first hail mary attempt to the end zone fell incomplete with two seconds left, followed by another huge heave to the goalline that was intercepted by James, forcing overtime.

Adams gave his team a pump-up speech before the extra frame. “I told them that by the grace of God or whatever higher power you believe in, they’ve given us another shot to win this thing,” he recalled.

Sweet Home got the ball first in OT, whose rules dictate that each team starts on the opponent’s 20-yard line. Zook was tackled in the backfield on a run for a loss of three yards on the first play. A pass to Zajic got back five yards, but Sweet Home was pushed back still further when Nichol was sacked on the next play. Facing fourth down, Nichol threw a pass to the end zone that went through the hands of James on what would have been a tough catch.

That gave Madras the ball on Sweet Home’s 20-yard line, knowing that a score would win the game. The White Buffalo didn’t waste much time. A keeper run by Boyle went for three yards. Madras employed the same strategy on the next play, letting Boyle run again. This time, the senior quarterback was able to break through the Sweet Home defense for a 17-yard game clinching touchdown run, which led to a stampede of excited White Buffalo players and fans piling on top of each other in the corner of the field to celebrate the walk-off win.

“I thought that we competed really hard,” Adams said of his Huskies. “I was proud of my guys for not quitting and working hard. We’ve just got to build on it and improve. We knew that if we could just do our job with discipline and do it the right way, then we’d be successful. We just didn’t enough.”

He said “We have a lot of kids that are emotional kids, that are on a roller coaster up and down throughout practice. But we had a pretty steady effort, which is really good.”

Adams again blamed penalties for the outcome.

“We had two big personal fouls on us in the second half that kind of killed our defensive momentum and allowed them to compete,” he said.

Nichols said “I knew that it was going to be a pretty close game, because they didn’t lose too many seniors and we didn’t lose too many seniors. We had about the same teams going up against each other, so I knew it was going to be tough. Those guys are pretty good. But I would have liked to come home with the ‘dub.'”

He said he thought that a lack of intensity and discipline was the reason the Huskies came up short.

Nichol said “Offensively we didn’t do as well as I hoped we would against this opponent. Across the board we have to be more physical on offense and defense.”

Both Nichol and Nichols mentioned as a positive that new players on the varsity stepped up in the first game.

“We got some new guys stepping up to the plate, and it was nice for them to show off what they can do,” Nichols said.

Adams sees potential in this Sweet Home team, after it competed so closely against a Madras squad that finished in the top 16 in the state last season.

“I do think our skill guys are some of the best in the state,” he said. “We’ve just got to get better at getting them open and giving them more opportunities to put the ball in the end zone.”

Sweet Home’s next opportunity will come at 7 p.m. this Friday, Sept. 9, when the team plays at Molalla in another non-league contest. Molalla lost its opener at Stayton 36-8.

Madras – 0 14 0 6 6 – 26

Sweet Home – 6 8 0 6 0 – 20

Scoring Summary:

First Quarter

SH – Brady Nichols 19 pass from Heath Nichol (kick no good).

Second Quarter

MAD – Johan Poland 27 run (Poland kick).

SH – Jeremy Zook 9 run (Nichol two point conversion run).

MAD – Tyler Clarkson 14 pass from Dru Boyle (Poland kick).

Third Quarter

No Scores

Fourth Quarter

MAD – James Lange 6 run (kick no good).

SH – Heath Nichol 11 run (kick no good).

Overtime

MAD – Dru Boyle 17 run.

Sweet Home Individual Statistics

Rushing – Heath Nichol 6-51; Jeremy Zook 10-36; Brady Nichols 2-9; Kayo Ebbs 2-5.

Passing – Heath Nichol 13-20-1-140.

Receiving – Brady Nichols 4-70; Von James 5-45; Kaden Zajic 4-25.

Total
0
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