By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes

To earn its first win of the season, McNary had to play as one.

“I think the big thing tonight was we knew we had to come together,” McNary senior Jacob Jackson said after the Celtics’ 21-14 victory over Sprague on Friday, Oct. 5.

“And when we came together we saw what we could do and we just got so excited about it that it showed and I thought we played really well because of it.”

McNary jumped out to a 14-0 lead over Sprague, thanks to two touchdown passes by Erik Barker, a 3-yard dump off to Junior Walling in the first quarter and then a 30-yard bomb to Nigel Harris in the second.

But while the Celtic offense struggled in the second half, the Olympians answered with 34 and 31 yard touchdown runs by Landon Davis to tie the game with 11:30 remaining.

Finally finding a groove with outside runs by Harris and Jackson to get inside the Sprague 5-yard line, Barker gave the lead back to McNary on a 3-yard touchdown run with 5:18 left to play.

“We called that play, emptied the backfield and coach (Brad Emmert) told me to run it in,” Barker said. “I saw a huge hole open up. I couldn’t ask for better guys up front.”

McNary senior Griffin Oliveira then intercepted Sprague quarterback Ethan Flanigan with 1:21 remaining to seal the victory.

The interception was Oliveira’s second of the game as theOlympians turned the ball over five times—four interceptions and one fumble.

“Our defense stepped up so much,” Barker said. “They shut down their run game completely and made them pass and we knew that’s where they kind of struggled. That’s really what won the game.”

Sprague finished with 151 yards rushing. Chris Sharp had 77 on 21 carries.

“We knew what they were going to do,” McNary senior lineman Joshua Schmeltzer said. “They were going to run up the middle and try to push it down our throats and we just met the challenge and came together.”

Barker completed 16 of 26 passes for 185 yards. Harris caught three passes for 95 yards.

Walling rushed for 41 yards on 14 carries.

The win was McNary’s first over Sprague since 2014.

“We knew this was going to be a tough game,” Barker said. “We knew it was going to be a fight. In previous years, we hadn’t beat them recently so that just fueled the fire. It made that win so much better, that feeling.”