Pettit scores in the air, on the ground

Kyle Pettit’s arm and legs produced three big plays as Sweet Home outdueled Estacada, 20-12, for its first win of the season.

After shutting down the Rangers in their first series on a fourth and one play near midfield, Sweet Home struck quickly. On the Huskies’ second play, Pettit connected with Adam Hummer for a 46-yard touchdown.

But the Husky offense sputtered throughout the rest of the game even though they started their drives either near midfield or in enemy territory eight times. Without a steady running game, Pettit was under constant pressure on third and long situations, allowing Estacada to sack Pettit six times. For the game, Sweet Home only managed four first downs, only one by rushing.

“We are in third and long situations too often,” said coach RobYounger, who continues to try to find a running game and blocking scheme which may help give Pettit more time in the passing game. “As good as he is, he’s not used to the timing things. He’s not forcing things so he isn’t throwing interceptions. But sometimes, he’s holding the ball too long.

This forced Sweet Home’s defense to put the throttle on Estacada, which they did. Estacada had three opportunities snuffed in the first half. After a Husky fumble, Estacada took over at midfield and quickly worked the ball to the 20-yard line before Nick Pitts rattled the Rangers’ leading rusher Greg Locke, causing him to fumble, with a recovery by Nathan Whitfield.

Starting the second quarter, Estacada marched down the field led by Locke, who carried for 92 yards on the night. Sweet Home stood its ground at the 18-yard line, forcing two incomplete passes, a fumble, and a rush for negative yardage. In the same quarter, after a second bad Husky snap over punter Marcus Delong’s head, the defense made another four-play stand inside the 10-yard line.

Estacada finally got on the scoreboard in the third quarter after recovering a second Husky fumble at the Sweet Home 27. After stopping the run on three consecutive plays, Jacob Day tossed a 25-yard pass to Dustin Harding. However, the try for two points was unsuccessful, keeping the Huskies ahead by one.

Sweet Home nearly had a big break in the fourth quarter after Jake Hyde fumbled his fourth punt, two of which he lost and Steve Bergevin recovered. But the Rangers managed to recover this one at their own 22.

Estacada backed up on this series, suffering two 10-yard penalties and two rushes that the Huskies stuffed in the backfield.

The Huskies took over at the Estacada 35 following the punt. Pettit, who threw for 111 yards in the game, showed that he could run as well, sweeping around the right end for a 35-yard touchdown, followed by Brandon Nunn’s second extra point.

Late in the game, Estacada went exclusively to a passing game and for the first time and only time it consistently worked, culminating in another Day-to-Harding touchdown pass, this time from 21 yards out. Day’s two-point attempt to tie the game was stopped on a sack by Chaz Davis, forcing the Rangers to try an onside kick which the Huskies recovered at the 50.

Pettit put the game out of reach with a repeat performance of his right side sweep. The defense once again made a four-play stand to realistically end the contest, even though Estacada had one more chance on the last play of the game, allowing Ben Brewer, who led the Huskies with 10 tackles, to pick up his second sack.

“The defensive front line stayed lower and played more aggressively,” said Younger, also citing the improved play of Kris Schaefer, Pitts, Davis and Ridge McKinney in the linebacking crew. “We were much better fundamentally and were attacking.”

Even with the victory, Estacada managed to have more total yards of offense, 262 to the Huskies’ 179.

Pettit was the leading rusher with 4 carries for 80 yards but also lost 38 yards with the six sacks.

The Huskies go back on the road Friday against Stayton, another team who is rebuilding. The Eagles lost 18 seniors from last year’s squad.

“I knew we were going to be young and inexperienced,” said Younger, who feels the schedule is challenging but is also manageable. “It’s nice to play teams that are quality opponents but are teams that we can still compete with.”