The Crook County Cowboys dominated both sides of the ball Friday night in Prineville as they shut out the Woodburn Bulldogs 39-0 in non-league football action, getting their first win of the season.
"Up front, they played well and definitely moved that line of scrimmage their way, so that was a big key for tonight," said Crook County head coach Ryan Cochran. "Defense, we played a heck of a game. We won that turnover battle that was a big key for us this week. Offensively, we executed Xs and Os. Our blocking assignments and staying on blocks and that was the big difference I think from our last few games to this one."
Woodburn took the opening kickoff and drove straight down the field, moving the ball all the way from their own 35-yard line to the Crook County 27. However, the drive stalled, and on fourth down, they attempted a field goal, which was blocked by the Cowboys.
"It is very frustrating because we have the kids that can play," said Woodburn head coach Nick Federico. "It's little things here and there, such as at the beginning of the game we had a couple of stalled drives that killed us. We missed a couple key blocks that then became a stalled drive and then we ended up having to settle for a field goal, or punts and turnover on downs, so that's tough."
The Cowboys took over on the 20-yard line, and immediately went on an eight-play, 80-yard drive for the game's first touchdown. Kyle Knudtson, Jacob Kasberger and Jacob Kleffner all ate up big chunks of ground as the Cowboys did all the damage on the ground.
Kleffner finally carried the ball across the goal line from five yards out for the touchdown. Kleffner converted the 2-point conversion, and the Cowboys led 8-0 with 2:38 remaining in the first quarter.
Woodburn started their second possession on their own 24-yard line, and once again they were able to move the ball effectively. With Luis Guerrero doing most of the damage, the Bulldogs quickly picked up a pair of first downs, moving the ball to the 48-yard line.
The first quarter ended as Freddy Diaz carried the ball off left tackle to the Crook County 49-yard line. An incomplete pass and a rush that went for negative yardage forced the Bulldogs to punt.
Dominic Langley took the punt on the run and went up the left sideline all the way to the 40-yard line, and once again the Cowboys were in business.
Clayton Berman slashed up the middle for 17 yards, all the way to the Woodburn 43-yard line, but the play was called back for a hold. On the next play, Knudtson went around the right side all the way from the Crook County 41-yard line to the Woodburn 13. Six plays later, Kasberger carried the ball across the goal from the 1-yard line for the Cowboys' second touchdown in as many possessions. Erick Gonzalez converted the 2-point conversion, and the Cowboys led 14-0.
"We put in a lot of work, and I think that's what it came down to," Crook County offensive lineman Rylan Holland said of the Cowboys line play. "We had to really focus up and work as a team to be able to control the line of scrimmage, and that's what led us to the win."
On their next possession, the Bulldogs went to the air, and once again they were able to move the ball.
First, Hunter Conlon found Chandler Vargas across the middle for a 22-yard gain. Then Conlon hit Logan Madewell for another first down all the way to the Crook County 20-yard line.
An ineligible receiver penalty moved the ball back to the 25. The penalty carried a loss of down, and when Conlon's next pass was incomplete, Woodburn faced a third and 15. Guerrero carried the ball around the left side on a draw, but gained just 4 yards, making it fourth and 11 on the 21.
When Conlon's fourth down pass fell incomplete, the Cowboys took over at their own 21-yard line with 6:10 remaining in the first half.
The Cowboys immediately went to the air as Colton Burkhardt hit Dominic Langley on a flanker screen that went for 22 yards.
Then Kasberger blasted up the middle for 39 yards all the way to the Bulldog 21. However, the Bulldog defense stiffened and put the Cowboys into a fourth and six situation. Victor Ramirez hit a 32-yard field goal to give the Cowboys a 19-0 lead.
Woodburn started their next possession on their own 20-yard line. A short run by Guerrero moved the ball to the 25-yard line. Then Conlon dropped into the pocket and hit Vargas in stride behind the Cowboy defense. Vargas rumbled 75 yards for an apparent touchdown, but the play was called back for a hold.
It turned out to be one of the biggest plays of the game. The mistake seemed to take all the wind out of Woodburn's sails, and they were quickly forced to punt.
Crook County took over on their own 48-yard line and once again moved the ball quickly down the field for a score. This time, Burkhardt hit Langley for a 24-yard touchdown in the left corner of the end zone. The 2-point conversion failed, but the Cowboys led 25-0 with 58 seconds left in the first half.
Ramirez's kick sailed into the end zone, and the Bulldogs took possession on their own 20-yard line.
Once again, Woodburn was initially able to move the ball effectively. A roughing the passer penalty gave the Bulldogs a first down on the Crook County 35. A pass from Conlon to Alvarez moved the ball to the 50-yard line. However, mistakes again proved costly for Woodburn.
With time running out in the half and a fourth and four, Conlon dropped back to pass one more time. This time, Langley leaped high in the air, intercepting the pass. One play later, the half ended, with the Cowboys holding an insurmountable lead.
Crook County received the opening kickoff of the second half, but their drive stalled because of penalties. Vargas returned Burkhardt's punt to the 47-yard line. However, a false start moved the ball back to the 42-yard line.
Facing a first and long, Conlon dropped back to pass. Kasberger, the Cowboys' middle linebacker, dropped back into coverage and intercepted the pass, returning it to the Woodburn 42.
After no gain on first down, Zach Rictor carried the ball up the middle all the way to the 22-yard line. A pass from Burkhardt to Langley moved the ball to the 10-yard line. Runs by Rictor and Kasberger moved the ball to the one. On third and one, Burkhardt faked a handoff to Kasberger running up the middle, then rolled to his left and hit Langley in the end zone for his second touchdown catch of the game.
Ramirez's kick was good, and the Cowboys led 32-0.
For the rest of the second half, the Cowboy defense was in control. Brodie Connell intercepted a third Conlon pass late in the third quarter, but this time the Woodburn defense was up to the task.
Ramirez attempted a 40-yard field goal but the kick was short.
After a Woodburn punt, Ramirez attempted another long field goal, but this one was just wide to the right side.
Crook County scored the final touchdown of the game as Connell sprinted around the right side for a 26-yard touchdown run with 1:47 left in the game. Ramirez's kick was good, making the score 39-0.
Woodburn reached the 50-yard line one more time before time expired, and the Cowboys could taste victory for the first time this season.
"When you start to go into a slump like that, and coming out and executing and doing the things that we were so close for four games, it's a little bit of validation for what we are doing and the hard work that we are putting in," Cochran said. "It finally clicked this week. We are getting better. We weren't mistake-free by any means, but we keep plugging away every time getting a little better at executing and not very many penalties, and so that's our big focus."
Crook County finished the game with 405 yards of total offense while Woodburn was held to just 173 yards of offense. The Cowboys had 273 yards on the ground, and 132 yards passing, while the Bulldogs finished with 108 yards rushing and 65 yards passing.
Knudtson led the Cowboy rushing attack with 84 yards on 10 carries, while Connell had 67 yards in five carries. Kasberger ran the ball eight times for 64 yards and Kleffner finished with 44 yards on four carries.
For the Bulldogs, Guerrero finished with 82 yards rushing on 14 carries.
"We aren't playing as a team," Guerrero said. "We are having trouble with people not doing their job. It's really frustrating. I can't find the holes. I have to make my own holes. We just have to get better as a team and work harder every day. We have got to keep putting effort and hope for the best."
Burkhardt had his best passing game of the year, going seven for 10 with two touchdown passes, while Connell was two for five in the game.
"We just lit a different fire tonight," Burkhardt said. "It was our first home game, and we lit something different. I think it was pretty good."
Conlon completed eight passes for the Bulldogs but had three interceptions, while the Cowboys didn't have a turnover in the contest.
Holland was relieved that the Cowboys finally earned a win after a 0-4 start.
"We have our team dinner every week on Thursday, and we sat down together and we made goals for each other," he said. "We said we know we are a good football team, we have got to get it done. The win got a lot of pressure off our back, and I think that's only going to help us down the road. I'm just really proud of everybody, honestly. We finally came together as a line and finally put it all together."
Federico said that the Cowboys are a good team that played a great game, but he was still disappointed with what he saw from his team.
"You know, we have got to find heart," he said. "We have got to see what kind of heart we have, and it starts on Sunday and carries through. This game is won Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. We have got to figure out what kind of heart we have as a team."
With the loss, the Bulldogs fell to 2-3 on the season. Woodburn hosts Estacada (4-1) next week, while the Cowboys host Molalla, 3-2, in a key league matchup.
Woodburn 0 0 0 0 — 0
Crook County 8 17 7 7 — 39
Crook County — Jacob Kleffner 5-yard run. Kleffner 2-point conversion.
Crook County — Jacob Kasberger 1 -yard run. Erick Gonzalez 2-point conversion.
Crook County — Victor Ramirez 32-yard field goal.
Crook County — Colton Burkhardt 24-yard pass to Dominic Langley. Burkhardt run failed.
Crook County — Burkhardt 1-yard pass to Langley. Ramirez kick.
Crook County — Brodie Connell 26-yard run. Ramirez kick.