Football: North Marion overcomes miscues to beat Yamhill-Carlton 26-12
The North Marion football team's 26-12 homecoming victory over the Yamhill-Carlton Tigers on Friday was a tale of two games.
On one side was a Husky defense that swarmed the Tigers mercilessly, producing five sacks, a safety, a touchdown and a whopping nine turnovers.
On the other side was a Husky offense that was flagged for eight holding penalties and turned the ball over three times en route to game in which 16 North Marion penalties across both sides of the ball nearly erased every positive gain.
"It's mental discipline," North Marion head coach Doug Bilodeau said after the game. "It's just someone not being sure of themselves and deciding to say, 'If I do this, (the refs) won't see me.' Well they saw you four times."
It was a tough pill to swallow for the Huskies, who should have been jubilantly celebrating their second win in a row after starting the season 0-3. While Bilodeau was genuinely proud of all the good things that his team did to open their league schedule with back-to-back wins, it didn't erase the mistakes and mental lapses that the better teams in the Oregon West Conference would have been able to convert into a victory.
"I'm proud of them," Bilodeau said. "I love the guys, but I love them too much not to be honest with them."
North Marion's first drive of the game epitomized the difficult evening for the Huskies, who were playing just as much against themselves as they were against the Tigers. North Marion opened the contest with a 13-play drive that took them down to the Yamhill-Carlton 8-yard line.
The Huskies were hit with three holding penalties on the drive, but each time, sophomore quarterback Sergio Jimenez was able to make up the lost yardage with timely strikes to receiver Brady Hansen and running back Jasson Coria.
The mistakes eventually proved too costly, and the team turned the ball over to the Tigers on downs. On their next sustained drive, the Huskies pushed the ball down to the 1-yard line, only to fumble the ball away.
That led to their first points of the game when James Rhodes and Coria combined to take down Yamhill-Carlton quarterback Jaime Garcia for a safety to go up 2-0 early in the second quarter.
North Marion scored its first offensive touchdown later in the quarter, taking advantage of good field position by virtue of an interception from Hansen that set the Huskies up 22 yards from the end zone. North Marion rumbled down to the 1-yard line again and punched it in on a QB keeper, but another holding penalty took the points off the board. This time, the Huskies recovered and Jimenez was able to find running back David Page for a 13-yard strike to make it a 10-0 game.
North Marion quickly struck again, turning a fumble recovery by Joe Torian into a touchdown on the next play when Jimenez found Hansen on a 56-yard pass up the left side of the field to give the Huskies a 16-0 lead heading into the half.
While the offense was having trouble finding rhythm for all but the final minutes of the second quarter, the defense was firing on all cylinders. The Huskies forced four turnovers in the first half due to constant pressure from the defensive line that had Garcia scrambling for his life and throwing up passes for grabs.
"That's the object of our defense," Bilodeau said. "That's why we send six all the times and have five in the back to cover. It's a matter of getting after it."
The Husky defense picked up right where they left off to start the second half when Milo Bilyeu picked off Garcia, setting up a 33-yard field goal by Jimenez to put North Marion up 19-0.
On Yamhill-Carlton's next drive, sophomore Johnny Page picked off Garcia and returned the interception for a touchdown. But the score was taken away when the referees ruled Page was pulled across the end zone by his teammates, and the Huskies weren't able to punch it in on offense, turning the ball over on downs.
Hansen made sure North Marion would get their score, however. On the ensuing drive, Garcia coughed up the ball, and Hansen deftly snatched it up and ran into the end zone to make it 26-0 with 4:35 left in the third quarter.
North Marion's offense stalled out for the remainder of the game, but the defense held strong. Bilyeu added two more interceptions on back-to-back Yamhill-Carlton drives to give him three picks for the game — all in the second half.
"He did a great job," Bilodeau said. "He was all over the field making interceptions, just hustling. That's what it takes — hustle, and he did a good job there."
Yamhill-Carlton broke up the shutout in the fourth quarter on a pair of touchdowns, but the game was in hand by that point.
Jimenez led the team on offense, going 10-for-19 for 182 yards and two touchdowns. Hansen caught two passes for 84 yards and a touchdown, while David Page added two catches for 26 yards and a score.
Defensively, Bilyeu had his three picks, and Hansen had a forced fumble, an interception and a fumble recovery for touchdown. Jimenez added a pick of his own, along with a fumble recovery.
In total, North Marion forced nine turnovers — six interceptions and three fumbles.
"We're a good team — we just have to BE a good team," Bilodeau said. "We're on that edge of just putting it together."
North Marion (2-3, 2-0 Oregon West Conference) moves on to play at Philomath (1-4, 0-2 OWC) on Oct. 6. Yamhill-Carlton (0-5, 0-2 OWC) returns home to take on the No. 10 Stayton Eagles (3-2, 2-0 OWC).