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Outlaws score 24 first-half points, then hold on as Cowboys make second-half comeback

LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Kyle Knudtson carries the ball around left end for a big gain in the second half of the Cowboys loss to the Sisters Outlwas Friday night. Knudtson led the Cowboys in rushing with 71 yards and one touchdown.The Sisters Outlaws dominated the first half of play as they jumped out to a 24-0 halftime lead then held on to take a 24-14 win over the Crook County Cowboys Friday night in non-league football action.

"We are two different teams," Crook County head coach Ryan Cochran told his team following the game. "I am more excited about the second half than I am worried about the first half, but we have to put a whole game together. You are a good football team, but we have to believe it for four quarters."

The Cowboys started play with a first down on their own 32-yard line. After failing to move the ball, Crook County punted, and Sisters took possession on their own 32.

The Outlaws immediately went to work with Christopher Luz and Jake Stevens eating up huge chunks of yardage as Sisters quickly advanced the ball into Crook County territory.

After a face mask call on Crook County, the Outlaws had a first down on the Crook County 24-yard line. On the ensuing play, Stevens ripped up the middle for a sizeable gain but was hit hard. The hit jarred the ball lose and it popped high into the air where Jacob Kasberger snared the ball, returning it to the 28-yard line.

The Cowboys went to the air with quarterback Colton Burkhardt hitting Dominic Langley for a short gain. A pass to Garrett Bernard appeared to give Crook County a first down, but the play was called back for a block in the back. A false start and what appeared to be a promising drive turned into a quick punt.

A Sisters penalty moved the ball all the way back to the Outlaws' 14-yard line.

The Outlaws were unable to move the ball and quickly kicked back to the Cowboys. However, Langley let the ball fall, and it rolled all the way to the Cowboy 15-yard line as Luz netted 63 yards on the punt.

After a penalty set the Cowboys back, Kasberger blasted up the middle for a first down.

Once again, the Cowboys self-destructed. A delay of game penalty set the Cowboys back to the 24-yard line. On the ensuing play, Burkhardt dropped back to pass and threw a pass into the right flat. The ball was deflected and then intercepted by Luz, who raced 25 yards for a touchdown.

The extra point was no good, but the Outlaws still led 6-0 with just over two minutes remaining in the first half.

Sisters' squib kick was returned by Jacob Slawter to the 42-yard line, but once again, the Cowboys were unable to move the ball. Once again, the Cowboys punted and the Outlaws took over on the 19-yard line as time expired in the first quarter.

Once again, the Cowboy defense did its job, and the Outlaws were forced to punt. Once again, penalties proved to be important as the Cowboys picked up penalties for illegal procedure and an ineligible player down field on a pass play.

The penalties proved to be too much for Crook County to overcome, and once again, they were forced to punt.

Sisters quickly capitalized, scoring two plays later on a 64-yard fly sweep by Luz. Once again, the kick was no good, but the Outlaws held a 12-0 lead with 6:23 left in the half.

Once again, the Cowboys were unable to move the ball and quickly punted it back to the Outlaws. On the first play from scrimmage, quarterback Taylor Fendall threw his first pass of the game to Korbin Sharp in the right flat. However, the Cowboy defense was ready for the play as they tackled Sharp for a 3-yard loss.

On the next play, Fendall dropped the snap from center, but Stevens was able to pick the ball up and gain a couple of yards.

Then came what turned out to be the play of the game. Luz split wide on the left side, then went in motion just before the snap. Fendall handed the ball to Luz, who looked like he was running a second fly sweep. Luz swept to the right instead until the Crook County cornerback came up to stop the run. Then Luz stopped, throwing the ball down the field to a wide-open Turner Stuzman, who trotted into the end zone for a 67-yard touchdown, giving the Outlaws an 18-0 lead with 3:48 left in the half.LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Jacob Kasberger sprints around Jared Richerson of Sisters for a first down.

Once again, the Crook County drive was stopped by penalties. The Cowboys moved the ball to the Sisters 30-yard line, where they had a fourth and one. The Cowboys attempted to pull the Outlaws offside, instead, a Crook County player moved, setting the Cowboys back five yards. On fourth and six, the team was unable to convert, and the Outlaws took over on the 33-yard line.

On the first play from scrimmage, Stevens bulled up the middle with the ball, but a holding penalty moved the ball back to the 28-yard line. Then Luz swept to the left on a fly sweep, sprinting around the left end for a 72-yard touchdown as time expired in the first half. The extra point attempt failed again, but the Outlaws had extended their lead to 24-0.

"Right before the second half, I think that we let down effort wise," Cochran said. "We have battled all mental stuff all year. It seems like every big play or big first downs, there were always penalties, and at halftime, we had a gut check. Seeing who we are and what name was written across our chest was about the only adjustments that we did."

According to Kasberger, the team also discussed their defensive assignments.

"At half time, we got into our defensive groups and talked about our assignments," he said. "Some of us were trying to do too much and do other people's assignments in the first half, and we discussed making sure that you did your assignment and let everyone else do their assignment."

The Outlaws took the kick off to start the second half and pounded the ball up the middle, with Morgan eating up big chunks of yardage. Six consecutive runs by Morgan moved the ball all the way from the Sisters' 28-yard line to the Crook County eight. However, the Cowboy defense stiffened, and on fourth and goal from the 10-yard line, Eric Gonzalez deflected a Fendall pass as Crook County took over on downs.

The defensive stop seemed to spark the Cowboy offense as the Cowboys quickly moved the ball up the field. However, after a pair of first downs, Burkhardt fumbled, and the Outlaws recovered on the 40-yard line.

Once again, the Cowboy defense came up tough, forcing an Outlaw punt, which Langley returned to the 46-yard line.

A 15-yard run by Zach Rictor moved the ball into Sisters territory before runs by Kasberger and Rictor gave the Cowboys a first down on the 16-yard line. From there, Kyle Knudtson carried the ball around left end for the Cowboys' first touchdown of the game.

It looked like the Cowboys had converted the 2-point conversion when Burkhardt hit Langley in the corner of the end zone. However, the Cowboys were called for illegal procedure and had to redo the extra point attempt from five yards farther back. This time, Burkhardt's pass was deflected, leaving the score 24-6 late in the third quarter.

Crook County dominated the rest of the game as the Outlaws were unable to move the ball.

The Cowboys finally scored again on a 1-yard run by Kasberger with 1:50 remaining in the game. Gonzalez, a lineman, took the snap from center on the extra-point attempt, scoring on the trick play, making the score 24-14.

Crook County attempted an onside kick, but Sisters recovered the ball on their own 48-yard line. From there, the Outlaws were able to run out the clock as they held on for the win.

"Our guys responded in the second half, and it looked like two separate teams," Cochran said. "It's down to execution when we execute and do our assignments, things work, but when we start trying to do other people's assignments instead of our own, now we've put a finger in the hole here and one pops out over there. That's important for us to understand. If we do our assignments like we did in the second half, it's a whole, and that defense stops things."

The Outlaws outgained Crook County 398 yards to 233 yards in the contest. However, most of that yardage was in the first half, with 203 yards coming on three plays by Luz, who finished with three touchdowns, 178 yards rushing on just seven carries, and a 67-yard touchdown pass. Stevens added 68 yards on 10 carries, while Morgan finished with 96 yards on 22 carries.

For the Cowboys, Knutson had seven carries for 71 yards, while Kasberger carried the ball 10 times for 43 yards, and Rictor finished with 37 yards on six carries.

Will Combee and Gonzalez led the Cowboys in tackles with six apiece, while Kasberger finished with five and Burkhardt added four.

With the win, the Outlaws improved to 2-1 on the year, while the Cowboys fell to 0-3.

The Cowboys, who have yet to play a home game, open Tri-Valley Conference play next Friday as they go on the road again to take on the Estacada Rangers in a 7 p.m. game.

"If we can put four quarters of football like that second half together, our team is going to do great things," Cochran said. "But we have got to put it together, that's the big thing."

Crook County 0 0 6 8 – 14

Sisters 6 18 0 0 – 24

Sisters – Christopher Luz 25-yard interception return. Kick failed.

Sisters – Luz 64-yard run. Kick failed.

Sisters – Luz 67-yard pass to Turner Stuzman. Run failed.

Sisters – Luz 72-yard run. Run failed.

Crook County – Kyle Knudtson 16-yard run. Pass failed.

Crook County – Jacob Kasberger 1-yard run. Run Eric Gonzalez.

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