By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes
Five turnovers were five too many for the McNary Celts to overcome in their 38-30 loss to the Sprague Olympians.
“Some were bad breaks and others were the result of us not taking care of the ball,” said Rick Ward, McNary head coach. “We had to stop their run and eliminate our mistakes, we didn’t do either of those things.”
For the Celts, the game was a disappointment because they were plagued by the same problems that have reared their head all season.
“If we take out the turnovers, we’re not that far behind anybody,” said Jared Van Cleave, a senior.
The Olys leapt out to a 7-0 lead after a tipped pass from Celtic quarterback Kyle Ismay landed in the hands of Oly Reid Gammon and led to the first Sprague touchdown on a 34-yard pass. McNary turned over the ball on downs their next drive and it took Oly quarterback Jordan Giza a single play to race it 56-yards back down the field for a second touchdown and 14-0 lead.
On the next Celtic drive, Ismay connected with Garren Robinett on a long pass and Wes Heredia barreled into the end zone on the ground to close the gap to 14-7, but Giza made another huge run for a touchdown with 15 seconds left in the quarter to keep the game just beyond Celtic grasp.
“After the first quarter, we came back and the defense stepped it up and got some big turnovers,” Van Cleave said.
The Celtics turned over the ball on downs again in their opening drive of the second quarter, but the line made huge stops and blocked a punt on the Olys drive to take control of the game again.
Ismay hit Van Cleave with a touchdown pass that narrowed the game to 21-13. Kicker Gonzalo Cervantes pinned the Olys down deep in their own territory and the defense pushed them back to the 1-yard line forcing a punt from the end zone.
With a short field advantage, Ismay handed off the ball to Tim McDowell for a touchdown and a slim 21-19 margin.
“We had a hard time containing Giza the first half and went to the locker room and started to make plans that helped in the second half,” said Alex Willeford, a a senior Celtic lineman.
Sprague scored in the third quarter on the ground that extended their cushion to 28-19 and padded it with another touchdown lead 35-19.
Heredia rushed in the final Celtic touchdown of the game and McDowell added a two-point conversion to put the game within reach at about 6 minutes left in the game, but Sprague recovered an attempted onside kick with little difficulty and put up a field goal to put it the game beyond reach. Cervantes added a Celtic field goal to wrap up the score at 38-30. Ismay completed 28 of 48 on the night for 253 yards.
“We threw the ball well and moved the ball. It wasn’t like there weren’t good things happening,” Ward said. “Offensively we continue to do good things and defensively we still need to stop the run.”
While the game marked a five-game losing slide for the Celts, Ward was impressed with the athletes ability to keep their chins up.
“We had momentum throughout the game,” Cervantes said. “We had a few tough calls that didn’t go our way, but we have to try to keep the ball in our hands and find the way to get the touchdowns.”