By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes
Struggles in executing on offense kept the McNary High School team from victory in a 23-20 loss to Mountain View High School Friday, Sept. 21.
“Overall, our execution on offense was average. We missed some plays that we needed to execute. Our effort on special teams needed to be better as well,” said Isaac Parker, McNary head coach.
On the whole however, players were happy with the way they kept playing despite being down by as many as 10 points going into the halftime.
“We didn’t start well, but we fought through the whole game. We fought back and with a little more time we would have finished better,” said Celt Devon Dunagan.
McNary was most vibrant in the air with a handful of completions for big gains, two between quarterback Hayden Gosling and Dunagan.
The first, in McNary’s second drive of the night, saw Gosling Hail Mary the ball from McNary’s 22-yard line to Dunagan who raced down the sideline to the Mountain View 22-yard line. Unfortunately, the drive sputtered after the big play.
“Going into the game, we felt that Mountain View’s weakness on defense was their secondary and wanted to attack that,” Parker said.
Celt Adam Snegirev ran down the Cougar’s quarterback on the penultimate play of Mountain Views ensuing possession and Andrew Lawrence broke up a pass to force a punt.
McNary fumbled away it’s next turn and, despite big stops by Perry Groves and a near-interception by Daniel Brattain, moved the ball to second and goal at the two-yard line by the end of the quarter. It took the Cougars six seconds and one play of the second quarter to drive it home for the 7-0 lead with the point after touchdown.
Another big completion between Gosling and Dunagan gave the Celts possession of the ball at the Mountain View 25-yard line after the kickoff. A successful pass between the two put the Celts in the red zone at the seven-yard line. A pass to Garrett Hittner in the end zone was ruled incomplete, but Celt running back Brett Hildebrand found open field on the next play to close the score to 7-6. McNary’s attempt at a two-point conversion failed.
The Cougars fumbled on the second play of their possession, but the Celts never got beyond the Cougar’s 25-yard line on the drive.
When Mountain View snuck a pass in under the arms of Brattain covering man-to-man out in space, he ended up having to chase down the Cougar at McNary’s 12-yard line. The play put Mountain View in prime position to drive home their second touchdown of the night on the rush with 3:44 left in the half. The touchdown left the Celts trailing 13-6.
Spencer Baker returned the kickoff to McNary 40-yard line, but the Celts offense froze up with only a three-yard gain on the drive. A Cougar field goal from the 30-yard line with two seconds left on the clock gave the team a 16-6 lead.
“We started thinking that the game was going to blow up on us again like it did with Gresham the week before, but we came out after the half saying, ‘We can do this,’” Hittner said.
On the opening drive of the second half, big stops by Bruce Isabel and Grant Gerstner helped to hold the Cougars at bay and McNary took over possession on downs at their own 22-yard line.
Gosling connected with D.J. Wilson to move the ball to McNary’s 44-yard line and then handed the ball off to Hildebrand who found an open lane, then open field and sprinted for a 56-yard touchdown closing Mountain View’s lead to 16-13 with a successful point after by Gosling.
Mountain View inched ahead 23-13 on their first drive of the fourth quarter, but McNary was quick to respond.
Spencer Baker carried the kickoff to the McNary 21-yard line and completions to Wilson and Hittner moved the chains to the Cougar 46-yard line. Gosling completed a long pass to Hittner on the third play of the drive and Hittner dragged two tacklers with him to the Cougar 2-yard line bringing up first-and-goal.
An illegal procedure penalty and a high snap lost the Celts 12 yards, but on fourth down and 14 yards to go, Gosling passed to Hittner in the end zone who popped the ball up on his first grab and then turned and hauled the ball in before falling to the ground for the touchdown and the 23-20 final score.
With 3:40 left in the game, the Cougars had only to eat time off the clock and stops by Gerstner, Connor Goff, Groves and Mason Ross only slowed Mountain View down.
“We were getting to the points we’re supposed to get to, but we could have been a little rougher on their run game,” said Celt Bruce Isabel.
“We let them have a couple of big plays and it changed the momentum,” Ross added.
Hildebrand carried the ball 12 times for 77 yards. Gosling completed 14 of 25 for 271 yard with one interception. Dunagan led receivers with four catches for 139 yards.
“We put the defense in some tough spots with our break downs on special teams and turnovers. Late in the game, the defense got tired, and we need to be able to establish the run and keep them off the field, and execute well on special teams to help us with field position,” Parker said. “Still, we got behind this week, like we did with Gresham, and the kids showed some courage in fighting back. I was really proud of that effort.”
He credited Gerstner with stepping up his game on defense against Mountain View and Dunagan for coming into his own as a receiver. “He is going to be fun to watch grow up since he’s just a sophomore,” Parker said.