Crook County scores the final 35 points of contest in rout of Redmond

The Crook County Cowboys dug themselves out of an early hole Friday night as they knocked off the Redmond Panthers 35-7 in Intermountain Hybrid football LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Clark Woodward goes up the middle for a first down during the Cowboys 35-7 win over the Redmond Panthers Friday night. Woodward gained 57 yards on 10 carries in the contest.

“I’m so proud of you,” Crook County Head Football Coach Ryan Cochran told his team following the contest. “You came out and you fought adversity and found out what kind of a team you were.”

The Cowboys fumbled on their first two possessions, eventually leading to Redmond’s lone touchdown of the evening. However, the Cowboys rebounded to score of five of their next seven possessions as they took firm control of the contest.

“When you come out on your first two possessions and fumble the ball away, that’s not a great way to start,” Cochran said. “That’s been a habit of our football team and for them not to stumble, but to keep going — that’s a big step for us.”

Although they have not played every year, it has been 13 years since the Cowboys last defeated the Panthers.

Following the Cowboys' second turnover, Redmond’s Derek Brown scampered in from five-yards out to give the Panthers a 7-0 lead late in the first quarter, and it looked like Redmond was in control of the game.

However, the Cowboys took the ensuing kickoff and marched straight down the field, finally tying the game 7-7 on a six-yard run by Colbran Meeker. The Cowboys stopped the Panthers on their next possession and Meeker returned the punt to the Cowboys 44 yard line. Six plays later, Aaron Swindle burst around the right side for an 18-yard touchdown run. When Irwin ran the two-point conversion in the Cowboys led 15-7.

Crook County still led 15-7 at the half.

Redmond received the opening kickoff of the second half and quickly advanced the ball all the way to the Crook County 37 yard line. However, the Crook County defense stiffened and the Cowboys took over on downs. Although the Panthers continued to move the ball, the remainder of the contest, the Crook County defense came up with big stops at key moments in the game, and Redmond never threatened to score again.

Meanwhile, the Cowboys shifted their offense into high gear. Four plays after stopping the Panthers, Crook County scored on a 26-yard pass from Irwin to Brant McCloughan. Crook County led 22-7 at the end of the third quarter, then scored twice more in the fourth quarter to put the game out of LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Brant McCloughan catches a 26-yard touchdown pass from Crook County quarterback Mike Irwin during the Cowboys win over the Redmond Panthers on Friday. It was the first time the Cowboys have defeated the Panthers in 13 years.

The Cowboys’ final touchdown came after Cole Ovens intercepted a Bunker Parrish pass and returned the ball 78-yards, all the way to the nine-yard line. Two plays later, Swindle carried the ball nine yards for a touchdown to put the game out of reach.

The Cowboy offense had their best game of the season gaining 418 yards, including 261 yards rushing and 156 yards passing.

Swindle led the Cowboy rushing attack with 71 yards on just nine carries. Fullback Clark Woodward added 57 yards on 10 carries, while Meeker finished with 55 yards on eight carries. Irwin was also effective rushing the ball with 48 yards on 12 carries. However, it was through the air that Irwin was truly impressive. The freshman quarterback completed 11 of 13 passes including a pair of touchdowns throws.

McCloughan caught two passes for 42 yards, while Blake Bartels also caught a touchdown pass. Ryder Shinkle led the Cowboy receiving core with four catches for 50 yards.

Although Irwin had an outstanding night he was quick to credit the offensive line.

“Our offensive line, Seth Flegel, Raz (Trevor Rasmussen), Jason Williams, Smitty (Zach Smith), and Wyatt Moss, they are doing an absolutely great job,” Irwin said. “It’s putting the defense on their heels and they don’t know what’s coming. It’s a great feeling.”

Williams was also pleased with the teams’ performance.

“It took awhile for us to learn what it means to ‘roll hogs,’” he said. “We had some issues, but we figured it out and every since we have been destroying teams.”

The Cowboy defense was also impressive. Trayton Libolt had a pass interception, while Grant Porfily had two key quarterback sacks to go with five tackles. Rasmussen also had five tackles and a sack. Meeker and Libolt each finished with six tackles, while Smith led the Cowboy defense for the second consecutive week with eight tackles.

“It obviously took us awhile to get our line and everybody on the same page, but we are starting to do that,” Cochran said. “Our defense stood up and followed the game plan and bent but didn’t break. It was a great night for football. That’s exactly what football is supposed to be — good battles, good rivalries, and good outcomes.”

The Cowboys (3-3) have a key game on Friday when they host the Ridgeview Ravens (5-1) in a 7 p.m. matchup. The winner will win Special District I, and wrap up the league’s lone guaranteed play-in spot.

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