The New Era - All about Sweet Home since 1929

Central squeezes by Huskies with late comeback


September 18, 2013

RUNNING BACK Brandon Keenon explodes through a crease on his way to some of his 49 yards. To see more photos from this and other games, visit the photo gallery at

For The New Era

Sweet Home’s football team had a 13-0 lead against visiting Central halfway through their game Friday night, but the Panthers busted loose with 20 points in the second half, including two fourth-quarter touchdown passes, and escaped with a one-point victory, 20-19.

Although the loss was a disappointment, Coach Dustin Nichol said he was happy with the performance of his players, who simply ran out of gas at the end after three high-energy quarters.

“It wasn’t just a loss for us,” Nichol stated. “If you look at the stats, we did some really good stuff. We slowed down at the end. We’re going to put more time into conditioning so they can go longer.”

After a scoreless first quarter, in which both teams were called seemingly repeatedly for false starts, the Huskies got their motor running near the end of the second period, when Hunter Jutte hauled in a 15-yard pass from Cole Horner in the corner of the end zone. The Huskies were up 7-0 after Jutte kicked the extra point with 40 seconds left in the half.

“I was feeling great,” Jutte said, “After taking my first step off the line I knew we’d have a touchdown. I owe it to my quarterback Cole Horner with the money throw and my line for the great blocking. I have to admit I was feeling good.”

Then, 10 seconds later, Jutte scooped up a fumble on the ensuing kickoff return and dashed through Central’s players nearly untouched for a 35-yard run straight into the end zone to put the Huskies up 13-0 at the end of the first half. The Huskies’ run for a two-point conversion failed – a zero that would come back to haunt them.

“I felt like our offense started off a little slow,” Jutte said. “But we got it going like we always do and played our hearts out. We started off showing them straight run to set the tone then we worked in our deadly pass game before half time. Overall, I think our offense played great although we could work on a couple things.”

The Panthers, apparently refocused after an unproductive first half, played with more purpose – and less penalties – in the third quarter and running back Wesley Riddell, who rushed for 100 yards on 19 carries, broke through and scored their first touchdown with 20 seconds left in the third quarter, to put Central less than a touchdown away going into the final period.

The intensity of the Sweet Home defense starting declining as the entered the final quarter.

Central quickly took advantage of that Huskies weariness, taking possession after a Sweet Home fumble. Posting three first downs along the way, the Panthers forced their way down the field from the Huskies’ 48-yard line, then inched their way toward the end zone through some stout Sweet Home defense, before quarterback Ben Finnegan hit tight end Colby Jackson with a two-yard scoring strike. After scoring their extra point, the Panthers were up 13-14 with seven minutes left to play.

“Our defense did really well until the last quarter,” Nichol said, “Once the fourth quarter came, we weren’t making enough tackles and just let Central run up and down the field. (We) were just running out of gas.”

Down 14-13, Sweet Home drove to the four-yard-line, with running back Spencer Knight trying to plow up the middle through through Central’s stubborn defense. Then, on fourth and three, with 4:25 left, Horner handed off the ball to Brandon Keenon who scampered around the right side for a touchdown and a 19-14 Husky lead.

“We need to improve opening up the holes for our running backs,” Nichol said, “Central did run us to the sides quite a bit when we should have been going through the middle.”

“It wasn’t just the extra points that lost us the game,” Nichol said, “We were in the red zone two times where we could have scored and didn’t. I believe we could have had those and that would have won us the game.”

Central drove down the field once again as Sweet Home’s defense tired, and jumped ahead of the Huskies with 1:42 to go after wide receiver Anthony Landy caught a 38-yard pass from Finnegan just barely making the end zone.

The Panthers put the game in the bag after they intercepted Horner’s pass intended for Austin Rice. Central took a knee to run the clock out and went home with a win of 19-20.

“The line did a really good job in my opinion,” said wide receiver Austin Rice, who led the Huskies with five catches for 84 yards. “And Cole had some really good throws to me. We can only get better from here on out.”

Nichol said he was particularly pleased with Sweet Home’s special teams play.

“We were punting almost to the goal line and we were really close to getting a touchdown or two on our kickoff returns,” he said. “ I know we’ll get at least one or two touchdowns from a kickoff return this year, especially after seeing how close we were to having one against Central.”

The Huskies will be home once against Friday – their fourth of five straight to open the season – as they host North Valley at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 20.

The Knights are 2-1 after wins over Sutherlin (35-0) and South Umpqua (40-20) and losing a home to 47-10 to Ridgeview of Redmond last Friday. Ridgeview beat Baker 30-0 and lost 14-12 to Klamath Union before the win over North Valley.

“North Valley is going to be a mix of Banks and Central,” Nichol said. “They are a read option team like Banks and they run a single back formation and a double tight slot like Central.

“In film,” Nichol started, “North Valley did a lot more running than they did passing last year.”

“My plan is to get our inside and outside linebackers subs prepared this week so we can get more of a rotation in,” he said. “I’m also going to work on getting our defense lineman subs ready to rotate. They don’t rotate much. It will help us play strong all the way through the last quarter.”

“We’ll also be working on getting more running backs in the formation this week.”

Scoring Summary

Central 20, Sweet Home 19

C – 0 0 7 13 – 20

SH – 0 13 0 6 – 19

Second Quarter

SH - Hunter Jutte 15 yard pass from Horner. Jutte kick

SH – Hunter Jutte 35 yard run from fumble recovery. Conversion failed.

Third Quarter

C – Wesley Riddell 17 yard run. Extra point.

Fourth Quarter

C – Colby Jackson 2 yard pass from Ben Finnegan. Extra Point.

SH – Brandon Keenon 3 yard run. Conversion failed.

HUNTER JUTTE pulls in a touchdown pass ahead of Central’s Aaron Hobgood in the second quarter.

C – Anthony Landy 38 yard pass from Finnegan. Conversion failed.

Rushing - Sweet Home total rushing: 182. Spencer Knight 17-68; Brandon Keenon 10-49; Cole Horner 2-(6); Hunter Jutte 1-72. Central total rushing: 208.

Passing - Sweet Home: Cole Horner 10-20-2-139. Central: Ben Finnegan 14-23-0-161.

Receiving – Sweet Home: Austin Rice 5-84; Brycen Mitten 1-19; Jutte 3-15; Eric Flierl 1-7; Brandon Keenon 1-5.


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