Wildcats capitalize on turnovers against Lebanon, win 31-7
Wilsonville—It was a cold and foggy night in Wilsonville, and under the Friday night lights a rematch nearly a year in the making took place. The Wildcats hosted the defending state champions Lebanon Warriors (7-3) and looked to rebound from their loss in the state finals last year. It went the Wildcats way, as they defeated the Warriors 31-7 on Friday, Nov. 10.
"It was fantastic. I'm so proud of all my teammates," junior running back Cooper Mootz said. "We fought the entire four quarters of football. Smash mouth football. They wanted to stop the run but it's alright because it opened up the pass. Nathan Overholt went off, offensive line did what they needed to, receivers went off, and our defense was crazy in the red zone."
The first half started out in an evenly contested struggle. By the end of the first quarter, Wilsonville had only scored on field goal from senior kicker Austin Kness. That would be the only field goal Kness converted all night.
To start off the fourth quarter, the Wildcats punted the ball away. Lebanon started their drive on their own six-yard line, and marched it all the way down the field to the Wilsonville 18-yard line before fumbling it away to the defense.
The ensuing Wilsonville drive was a battle down to the Lebanon 27 where Kness would miss his next field goal attempt. Lebanon took over immediately made noise. Lebanon junior quarterback Colton Shepard had a massive run that put the Warriors on the Wilsonville 33-yard line, and eight plays later they found their way in for the touchdown. Junior running back Chaz Daniels ran the ball in from one yard out at 3:20 of the second quarter.
Wilsonville would respond well. Three plays into the drive, Wilsonville was sitting way inside its own 15-yard line and facing a third and 36 in order to convert for the first down. Junior Wildcat quarterback Nathan Overholt found junior wide receiver Jonah Gomez to escape their own red zone, and Gomez gave a little extra, getting Wilsonville all the way down to the Lebanon 22-yard line.
"That was huge, right after that big penalty we were back at I think our 10," Overholt said after the game. "Jonah, we've been talking about that route all day, we saw it open on film, and then I just put it out there and when Jonah took off and made great moves downfield. It was huge, I can't tell you how big that was."
Five plays later, Overholt scrambled into the end zone with 49 seconds to go in the half for the Wildcats first touchdown of the night. Heading into half time it was a 10-7 lead for the Wildcats, but Lebanon was right there with them.
Coming out of the half, Wilsonville turned it on. With fog settling over the field, and the temperature dropping, Lebanon's senior kicker Leaf Cripe kicked the ball away to a waiting Cooper Mootz. Mootz scrambled across the field, and ran the ball 89 yards up the right sideline to score on the first play of the half. Kness would put the extra point away and the Wildcats had a 10 point lead at 11:45 of the half.
"It was crazy, we got the momentum straight out of half," Mootz said. "In the locker room we were talking about setting the tone right when we got out there, and that was perfect. Picture perfect."
The Warriors looked to answer back, but another turnover by the Wilsonville defense stopped them cold. Lebanon's Shepard threw up a pass that brought down by Wilsonville junior defensive back Trevor Antonson on the visiting teams 10-yard line. Despite excellent field position, the Wildcats were unable to capitalize on the momentum and they turned the ball over on downs.
The two teams went back and forth, and Lebanon seemed to have the upper hand on a drive midway through the third quarter. It was first and goal on the Wilsonville six-yard line when the Warriors fumbled the ball away yet again at 5:39 of the third quarter.
Wilsonville put together a lengthy drive, but was unable to make anything of it as Kness missed his second field goal of the night.
Shortly into the fourth quarter, Lebanon lost yet another turnover, this time an interception courtesy of Wilsonville senior linebacker Chance Hansen. The Wildcats would make good on this one, and three plays later Overholt connected with senior wide receiver Jacob Herr on a 79 yard touchdown pass at 10:14 of the final quarter. A Kness point after attempt widened the gap in Wilsonville's favor 24-7.
The two teams traded three and outs before Wilsonville recovered the ball with a little under five minutes to go in the game. Two plays into that drive, Overholt got yet another touchdown, this one connecting with Gomez from 21 yards out at 4:43 of the fourth quarter. Another PAT put the final score at 31-7.
"We got our tough game," Overholt said. "We played a great coached team, well disciplined and hit hard, and now we're confident as ever."
Wilsonville (10-1) will move into the semi-finals to face the Hermiston Bulldogs (9-2) on Saturday, Nov. 18.