Cowboys break open a close game in the second half to win, despite giving up 411 yards of offense to Ravens

LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Dominic Langley returns a kickoff for a big gain in the Crook County Cowboys 47-25 victory over the Ridgeview Ravens. Langley scored one offensive and one defensive touchdowns in the game.The Crook County Cowboys broke open a close game in the second half as they rolled to a 47-25 victory over the Ridgeview Ravens in the opening football game of the season.

"That was a big thing for us," Crook County head coach Ryan Cochran said of the team's offensive output. "Especially coming after the jamboree last week where our defense was really stingy, and our offense wasn't as explosive as we wanted it to be. Our guys put in a lot of hard extra work this week, and I think it paid off."

The homestanding Ravens took the opening kickoff and drove straight down the field, finally scoring on a 3-yard run. Martin Amador's kick was good, and Ridgeview led 7-0 with 7:25 remaining in the first quarter.

The Cowboys quickly responded with quarterback Brody Connell scoring from 7 yards out, just five minutes later. Kaden Horton ran the ball for a two-point conversion, giving the Cowboys an 8-7 lead.

The Ravens immediately drove down the field again. However, the Cowboy defense stiffened, forcing a fumble, which Jason Slawter recovered on the Cowboy 4-yard line.

The quarter ended with the Cowboys still in possession with a second and seven on their own 7-yard line. On fourth and one, the Cowboys lined up like they were going to run a play, and the Ravens made their second big mistake of the game as they were called for encroachment, giving Crook County a first down.

The Cowboys quickly made the Ravens pay.

Four plays later, Connell dropped back to pass, hitting Dominic Langley in the end zone for a 26-yard touchdown. Connell's kick failed, but the Cowboys still led 14-7 early in the second quarter.

Once again, the Ravens moved the ball. However, an ineligible receiver downfield call and a quarterback sack left Ridgeview with a fourth and long. The ensuing punt went just 13 yards as the Cowboys took over on their own 47.

On the ensuing play, Connell pitched to Kyle Knudtson, who carried the ball all the way to the 6-yard line before he was finally forced out of bounds.

On fourth and goal, Connell rolled to his right and after nearly getting sacked found a way to get a pass off, which Horton caught in the back corner of the end zone. The two-point conversion attempt failed, but the Cowboys still held a 20-7 lead.

"They changed their game plan from what we saw on film, so we kind of had to adjust pretty quick, and I think we did a good job of adjusting on the fly," Connell said of how well the Cowboy offense ran. "At times, we moved the ball pretty well, and I was pleased with that."

Ridgeview quickly responded, scoring on a 41-yard pass from Bryce Demaris to Matthew Prusak. The kick failed, but the Ravens were back in the game, trailing 20-13.

Ridgeview stopped the Cowboys on their next possession, forcing a punt, which was returned by Josh Biever to the Raven 41-yard line.

The Ravens moved the ball quickly down the field, but with less than a minute to play, Langley intercepted a pass, returning it all the way to the Cowboy 45-yard line, where Crook County ran out the clock in the first half.

The Cowboys received the ball to start the second half, and once again, Crook County moved the ball down the field, going on an 11-play drive before Connell finally scored on a 1-yard quarterback sneak. Connell's kick was good, and Crook County had a 27-13 lead.

Langley picked up his second interception of the game four plays later, scrambling from the Ridgeview 45 all the way to the end zone. The Cowboys' kick was blocked, but the Cowboys still had a 33-13 lead.

LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Kyle Knudtson attempts to leap over a Ridgeview defender in Crook County's Friday night victory over the Ridgeview Ravens."We let a couple of scoring drives go that we could have fixed, but we are going to focus on the good things," Langley said. "I think my second interception kind of shows our team effort because I had four linemen blocking for me to get me in the end zone. This game just shows how resilient and how tough our team is, and I think that can take us a long ways this year."

After E.J. Allen recovered a Ridgeview fumble on the Crook County 19-yard line, the Cowboys were once again in business. But this time, penalties stopped the Crook County offense, and they were forced to punt.

Ridgeview quickly capitalized, scoring two plays later on an 8-yard run by Griffin Dietz. The two-point attempt failed, but the Ravens were back in contention with 2:52 left in the third quarter.

It was then that the Cowboys put the game out of reach for good, going on a 13-play drive that ended with a 13-yard run by Horton. Connell's kick was good, and Crook County led 40-19 early in the third quarter.

The Cowboys scored once more on a 3-yard run by Knudtson. Ridgeview answered late in the game as Demaris hit Liam Dyck on a 33-yard touchdown strike after the Cowboys had put in their second string defense.

The Cowboys finished with 428 yards of total offense compared to 411 for Ridgeview.

The Cowboys amassed 362 yards on the ground, while passing for 66. Meanwhile, the Ravens were more balanced, passing for 225 yards and rushing for 186.

However, four turnovers really hurt the Ravens, who finished with 26 first downs to 29 for the Cowboys.

"After looking at the stats, our defense came up with some big turnovers at really big points," Cochran said. "That one in the second quarter when they were on the 5-yard line and we stripped a fumble and recovered it, that was one of the big parts of the game. We got that fumble recovery and then were able to march back down the field 95-yards and score."

Connell accounted for four touchdowns, two passing and two rushing. Connell was 5-9 passing and carried the ball 10 times for 85 yards.

Connell was far from the only Cowboy to have an outstanding offensive game.

Jacob Kleffner carried the ball nine times for 74 yards, while Knudtson had five carries for 55 yards and a touchdown.

Horton also had a solid offensive game, carrying the ball six times for 36 yards and a touchdown. Horton also caught one of Connell's touchdown passes, while Langley caught the other.

"There were some things that we tried to take advantage of that we saw on film," Cochran said. "We were able to run the ball a little bit more, and we had some big passes that were dropped or that Ridgeview made a good play on the ball that would have put our passing up a little bit higher, but we took what was given to us."

Defensively, no one stood out for the Cowboys as a host of players finished with two tackles and multiple assists.

Cochran noted that middle linebacker Eric Gonzalez had two tackles and four assists, while Kleffner had two tackles and two assists.

E.J. Allen also had two tackles, two assists and a key fumble recovery while Slawter finished with two tackles, three assists and that key fumble recovery on the 5-yard line midway through the second quarter.

"They were running the fullback up the middle, and there were about four guys on them every tackle," Cochran said, explaining why no one had a huge number of solo tackles. "I think it was a really good effort by everyone on the team. Everybody made that possible. It wasn't just one person, you can see that by the defensive states. Across the board, everybody contributed."

Crook County will host the defending Class 4A state champion Cottage Grove Lions next Friday, Sept. 7, while Ridgeview will host the South Eugene Axemen.

"We are starting 1-0," said Crook County's Gonzalez. "That's something we haven't done for a long time at Crook County. I think this is pushing our momentum, and we need all the momentum we can get to win against Cottage Grove."

Crook County 47, Ridgeview 25

At Ridgeview

Crook County 8 12 13 14 — 47

Ridgeview 7 6 6 6 — 25

R — Parker Anderson 3-yard run, Martin Amador kick.

CC - Brody Connell 7-yard run, Kaden Horton run.

CC - Connell 26-yard pass to Dominic Langley, kick failed.

Connell 4-yard pass to Horton, 2-point conversion attempt failed.

R - Bryce Demaris 41-yard pass to Matthew Prusak, kick failed.

CC - Connell 1-yard run, Connell kick.

CC - Langley 45-yard interception return, kick blocked.

R - Griffin Dietz 8-yard run. Two point conversion attempt failed.

CC - Horton 13-yard run, Connell kick.

CC - Kyle Knudtson 3-yard run, Connell kick.

R - Bryce Demaris 33-yard pass to Liam Dyck, 2-point conversion attempt failed.

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