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In a gritty league affair, the Cougars held the Eagles scoreless in the fourth quarter thanks to two key interceptions

PMG PHOTO: TANNER RUSS - Canby senior Tyler Konold scored one of the Cougar's two touchdowns in their 14-13 win over Hood River Valley on Oct. 14.

It wasn't the prettiest football game ever played by Canby, who put together enough scoring opportunities and defensive stops to outlast the visiting Hood River Valley Eagles 14-13 on Oct. 14.

"I'm so proud of the guys for battling the way that they did," Canby coach Jimmy Joyce said. "We got some guys back, but we knew that it was going to take them awhile to get reacclimated from conditioning and stuff like that. The emotional swings of the game were so dramatic; to see Tyler come back and run the ball the way he did, and then re-aggravate his ankle a little bit. There's parts of the game that make you want to puke, but at the end of the day you're happy to pull it out and get a win here tonight."

The Cougars came into the game on the heels of a 35-0 shutout of Centennial and had star running back Tyler Konold returning to the lineup after injuring his ankle in week three against Beaverton, but both teams' offenses struggled early on.

Canby and Hood River Valley both had a pair of drives that led to zero points in the first quarter, but the Cougars were the first to strike when Konold rushed the ball in from 33 yards out with 10:16 to go in the half. That touchdown and extra point capped a three play 51-yard drive and set the team up 7-0.

Hood River Valley answered a little less than 3 minutes later when Eagles quarterback Davis Parr connected with receiver Ethan Rivera for a 68-yard pass to set his team up in the red zone. A few plays later, Parr snuck the ball in from the 1-yard line. Things were tied up 7-7.

In the ensuing Canby drive, the recently returned Konold re-aggravated his ankle injury and left the field, limping under his own power. Coach Joyce did not feel that it was as serious as the first injury his running back suffered earlier in the season.

"This is Tyler's first game back since week three," Joyce said. "So, this is his first run. A guy fell on it, but he's already feeling a lot better, so I think we'll get him iced up this weekend and see about next Friday night."

The first half ended on a Canby interception and the teams were tied up 7-7.

While neither team scored in the third quarter, those 12 minutes were a war of attrition. Canby led the dance with a nine-play drive that gobbled up 4:27 of the clock, and Hood River Valley put together a 10-play drive. Canby got the ball back with 3:35 in the quarter and put together their game winning drive.

PMG PHOTO: TANNER RUSS - Canby quarterback Kellen Oliver scrambles for a gain against Hood River Valley. The Cougars beat the Eagles 14-13 on Oct. 14.

The Cougars ran six plays, finding themselves battling first-and-long situations due to penalties and, ultimately, faced with a fourth and two situation. It appeared that the Eagles had stuff for the Cougars at the line, but quarterback Kellen Oliver faked out the defense and streaked up the left sideline for 35 yards to put his team on the visiting team's seven-yard line.

Four plays later, senior running back Ethan Ensrud punched the ball in from eight yards out and Canby led 14-7 with 10:53 to go in the game. Ensrud's touchdown was a result of the team playing to reach its high standards for itself after a rough first half.

"Definitely during half time, we felt like we could play better for sure, we weren't playing to our full potential," Ensrud said. "We were playing with a lot of mistakes in the first half, and we kind of stepped it up in the second half, played with less mistakes, played better football, and found a way to win it."

Hood River Valley answered 4 minutes later with a passing touchdown from Parr to receiver Markeith Harris but failed to convert on a 2-point conversion. Canby held onto the lead 14-13.

The Cougars ultimately didn't score again in the game but did manage to get a pair of interceptions to seal the deal and earn their fifth win of the season.

Canby sits now at 5-2 overall, with a 2-0 record in league games. The team has a stern test against Putnam (7-0 overall, 2-0 in league) next week, and Ensrud and Joyce both know what it's going to take to beat the undefeated Kingsmen.

"Definitely next week, we need to clean up our football, be more mentally sound," Ensrud said. "We made a few mistakes, and we need to be more physical. It's something we haven't done during the season, but if we start to be more physical, we're going to be a really good football team."

"There's no easy victories this late in the season," Joyce said. "I was joking with the guys today, the weather feels like August but at the end of the day we're in late October. Our goal as a program is always to play meaningful games in November. We always talk about it. Our expectation is to win every time we play and to being playing in November in front of these fans."

Canby faces Putnam on the road at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 21.

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