McNary kicker Logan Ready (28) is greeted by a slew of fans after nailing the game-winning kick to give McNary the 17-14 win over Newberg (KEIZERTIMES/Matt Rawlings).
“It was one of those games that you will remember forever.”
That is what McNary head coach Jeff Auvinen said moments after senior Logan Ready made the biggest kick of his life.
After the McNary defense prevented Newberg from scoring in the first possession of overtime, Ready drilled a game-winning 43-yard field goal to give the Celtics a 17-14 victory over the Tigers on Friday, Sept. 10.
Ready, who also plays baseball at McNary, said that it was the best feeling he has ever experienced as an athlete.
“I just loved it. I just knew that the whole team was going to come out and support me. I just loved the feeling,” he said.
The McNary defense came out and set the tone in the first quarter, forcing Newberg to go three-and-out on their first two possessions — the Tigers had just 12 yards of offense in the first quarter.
After stalling on their first two drives, the Celtics offense found some rhythm on their third possession.
Back-to-back first down completions from McNary quarterback Tyler Copeland to his brother Braiden Copeland gave the Celtics the ball inside the Newberg 35-yard line.
Two plays later, Tyler Copeland turned what seemed like a broken play into a 28-yard rush after scrambling past multiple defenders and tiptoeing the sideline before finally being brought down at the two-yard line.
McNary went with a two-back set on their first play from inside the five-yard line. With Newberg expecting the Celtics to try and pound the ball inside, Tyler Copeland fooled the Tigers linebacking core with a beautiful play-fake and found a wide open Gunner Smedema in the end zone for a two-yard score, putting McNary on top 7-0.
However, the Newberg offense found new life in the following period, going on a 75-yard scoring drive to tie the game at 7-7.
McNary appeared to be in position to respond after a long reception by Ready, but the play was called back due to a holding penalty and the Celtics were eventually forced to punt.
Penalties played a huge role over the course of this game as both teams were flagged for over 100 penalty yards.
“All I can ask for is that it is called as consistently as possible. Both teams made a ton of mistakes and they called it pretty tight. But both teams got called. I thought it was a fair job. It really hurt us a few times and it really hurt them a few times,” Auvinen said.
Newberg got the ball back on their own 35-yard line and marched 65 yards on a drive that was capped off by a four-yard touchdown run by Hudson Davis, as Newberg took a 14-7 advantage into the half.
But when the two teams came out for the second half, the McNary defense returned to the field with a chip on their shoulder, and managed to shut out the Tigers for the remainder of the contest.
“Our defense stepped up in the third quarter,” said Braiden Copeland, who had seven tackles (two tackles-for-loss) and a sack on the night.
“It shows the mental toughness of this group. I can't say enough about our defensive effort in the second half, shutting down a pretty physical team. Love this group of kids. They really work hard and they really battle,” Auvinen added. “We got a little rest at halftime and were able to put them behind the chains several times. We also subbed a little more. They were just doing whatever it took.”
The Celtics offense, on the other hand, struggled for much of the second and third quarters. But after a first down catch by Braiden Copeland and a long run by Zane Aicher — who led the Celtics with 107 yards rushing on 17 carries — McNary found themselves in the red zone to start the fourth period.
The McNary coaching staff noticed that the Newberg defense was starting to key on Aicher when the Celtics ran their inside zone in the second half. On the third play of the quarter, Copeland faked the handoff to Aicher, drawing the outside linebacker into the middle of the field, and took off to the outside, sprinting untouched into the end zone to tie the game at 14-14.
“The more we ran (inside zone), the more their outside guys started creeping into the box and chasing down the running back. And the kid is an athlete, no doubt about that. It was a great play call, and a great play on Tyler's part,” Auvinen said.
Both squads didn't threaten to score for the remainder of regulation, forcing the game into overtime.
Newberg had possession first in the extra session and, after a multitude of penalties on both teams, were forced into a 40-yard field goal attempt, which was blocked by McNary cornerback Sage Allen, putting the Celtics in a situation to win with a score.
However, McNary got backed into a third-and-11 situation, and the Newberg pass-rush forced Tyler Copeland into an errant throw, bringing up fourth down.
With the game hanging in the balance, Auvinen called on Ready to attempt the 43-yarder for the win.
A 43-yard field goal with the game on the line would be a tall task for most high school kickers, but Ready — who has one of the strongest legs in the state — was unfazed by the pressure and the distance.
“There were a lot of nerves, but at the same time I was hyped. I knew I could make that field goal. I have done it in practice many times. This week was kind of a struggle, but it made me better. It made me focus more on making that kick,” Ready said.
“I was hoping we would pick up a few yards there to make it an easier kick. But it was fourth-and-11 and we have a kid that can kick. I felt like it was our best shot at that point,” Auvinen added. “He has a big leg. He has shown that in practice quite a bit. And he is a gutsy kid. When (Newberg) called timeout, Logan just had a smile on his face and I told him 'you got this.'”
The snap and hold were picture-perfect. When the ball was struck by Ready's mighty right foot, everyone in the stadium knew the game was over.
“It was a no-doubter,” Auvinen said.
Ready was mobbed by teammates after making the clutch kick as the McNary fans erupted while the hometown team left the field dejected, suffering their second straight one-score loss.
“These kids will be talking about this game at their 10- and 20-year reunion,” Auvinen said.
McNary will be back at home on Friday to take on Grants Pass at 7 p.m.
Matt Rawlings: [email protected]