Turnovers take toll on Huskies in 15-8 loss to Woodburn

Benny Westcott

Sweet Home’s football team fell to Woodburn 15-8 at Husky Field on Friday March 26.

Sweet Home’s offense rushed for 232 yards and quarterback Aiden Tyler threw for 149, giving the Huskies 381 yards of total offense, well above the 252 yards gained by Woodburn.

But Sweet Home turned the ball over four times, and the defense was only able to force two by the visitors, which made a difference.

“We won every stat except for two,” said Head Coach Dustin Nichol. “The turnovers, and the scoreboard.”

“Historically, you lose the turnover battle, you lose the game,” he said.

“I think some of the fumbles were kids trying to make extra-effort plays. They’re reaching out and trying to get an extra yard instead of just taking what they’ve been given right there, securing the football, putting it back on the ground and getting right back in the huddle.

“I applaud the effort, but sometimes that effort is kind of hastily done. I understand what they’re trying to do, get everything you can and so forth, but sometimes you need to just take what you got, get back in the huddle and get back up to the line of scrimmage.”

Junior running back/defensive back Daniel Luttrell said the Huskies didn’t get it done.

“We came out with the same energy as last week,” he said. “We just didn’t do our jobs on defense. On offense, we didn’t execute as much as we wanted to.”

Offensive and defensive lineman Jake Fanning said, “We may have overlooked them a little bit. It happens sometimes.” Looking forward, he said “I think we need to shore some things up. We will, and then we’ll be a better team after it.”

Luttrell was the Huskies’ leading rusher, totaling 105 yards on 14 carries. Cade Gaskey had 65 on 10 carries, while Tyler carried nine times for 60 yards.

Cole Baxter led the team in receiving yards, with eight catches for 88 yards. Brady Nichols had two for 29 and Russell Holly caught three for 23.

Sweet Home drove into Woodburn territory twice in the first quarter, but on the first drive they failed on fourth down with 7:12 left in the first. Then, in a drive highlighted by a couple long runs from Luttrell, the Huskies were halted by a fumble with 2:15 left in the first.

Woodburn started off the scoring early in the second quarter, when quarterback Jordan Blem connected with Micah Nava for an 11-yard touchdown pass, putting the Bulldogs up 7-0.

On the ensuing drive for the Huskies, quarterback Aiden Tyler threw an interception with 9:51 left in the second quarter to give the ball back to the Bulldogs. But just seconds later, Luttrell made an acrobatic pick of his own for the Huskies with 9:19 left in the second quarter.

A pass from Tyler to Baxter brought the ball down to Woodburn’s one yard line on the next drive, and Luttrell ran the ball into the endzone and did the same thing on the next play for a two-point conversion, putting Sweet Home up 8-7 with 6:51 left in the half.

Woodburn was forced to punt with 5:58 left in the second quarter, and Sweet Home failed on 4th down with 1:26 on the clock, keeping the score at 8-7 Sweet Home when the two teams ran into the locker room for halftime.

In the third quarter, the Huskies again drove deep into Woodburn territory but again failed to convert on fourth down, with 4:27 left on the clock.

They quickly forced Woodburn to punt on the Bulldogs’ next possession, with 3:07 left in the quarter. Sweet Home’s next drive was derailed by another fumble with 2:05 left in the third.

In the game’s final quarter, Woodburn was still down 8-7, but put together some plays on offense to bring the ball down to Sweet Home’s one.

The Huskies were able to make two goal line stands preventing Bulldog running backs from reaching the end zone, but on Woodburn’s third attempt from one yard out, Blem was able to punch the ball over the goalline on a quarterback sneak to give his team the lead. Blem then threw toward the sideline to an open receiver to convert on a two point conversion attempt and give his team a 15-8 lead.

The Huskies failed to score on their next drive, turning the ball over on downs, but Sweet Home’s defense came up big to force Woodburn to punt with 4:13 left in the game, giving the Huskies offense one more opportunity to tie the score or take the lead.

Sweet Home was able to drive into Woodburn territory, but came up just shy of a first down on 4th and 5, giving the ball back to Woodburn with 1:12 left in the contest. Woodburn was able to run out the clock to secure the victory.

Nichol said the turnovers were what cost the Huskies most.

“The whole time, our players were thinking they were going to win this game,” Nichol said of his squad. “Really, what stopped us going forward was ourselves. Each one of the drives, it was a penalty, or it was a turnover, and that’s the tale of the tape.”

“This is one that we just let slip away,” he said. “We had opportunities.”

“You’ve got to give credit to Woodburn too,” Nichol added. “They stuck with it. They didn’t quit. They kept plugging away. And I think a lot of that had to do with us giving them opportunities and hope through our mistakes.”

Looking ahead to this week’s matchup at Cascade (2-2, with close losses to Marist and Canby), Nichol said “Well, now we’ve got the giant. Cascade is really tough.”

“We need to get it back together this week and get focused,” he said.

“It’s about getting on the field and giving yourself an opportunity to make something happen or win a game, even if you think you may not be the one that should win it.”

“Woodburn probably came into our game thinking that on paper they should lose. And we went in there thinking that this is one we need to win and could win as long as we do our business. And it’s the same thing now.”

“I kind of like being the underdog, myself, because what have you got to lose?” Nichol said. You go out there, you sell out, you give it everything you’ve got. What if you surprise them? What if you come out, you execute well, and you end up beating them?”

“I think we’ve got talent enough to do that, it’s just a matter of whether we can do it consistently and for 48 minutes of football.”

The Huskies will play at 7 p.m. at Cascade High School on Friday, April 2. It will be the last regular- season varsity contest for Sweet Home this spring.