The Mitchell/Spray/Wheeler County Rattlers take an early lead then have to hold on in scoring a 24-13 victory over the Dayville/Monument Tigers

LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Sterling Cook takes the ball around left end during the first half of Mitchell/Spray/Wheeler County's 24-12 victory over the Dayville/Monument Tigers last Friday. The Mitchell/Spray/Wheeler County Rattlers overcame a series of mistakes to take a 24-13 victory over the Dayville/Monument Tigers Friday afternoon in Spray in six-man football action.

"I would rather that we would be able to keep a lead," Rattler head coach Jerry Anderson said following the game. "We were up 18-0, and then we didn't score again until late in the game, so I would like our guys to be a little bit more penalty free because we had two or three touchdowns called back on holdings, but overall we played really well."

After a scoreless first quarter, the Rattlers took control of the game early in the second quarter as they rolled to an 18-0 lead.

The Rattlers opened the scoring as Johannes Emmerich intercepted a pass from Dayville/Monument's Donovan Schaffer and returned the ball 43 yards for a touchdown.

The extra point failed, but with eight minutes still remaining in the half, the Rattlers were up 6-0.

A failed onside kick attempt gave the Tigers the ball on the 50-yard line.

The Tigers quickly drove the ball to the Rattler 36-yard line. However, on fourth and two, they were unable to convert, giving the Rattlers the ball on their own 36.

On their first play from scrimmage, Sterling Cook was dropped for a 1-yard loss, leaving the Rattlers with a second and 16.

Isaiah Matney then took the ball and raced around right end all the way to the 50-yard line.

Matney was tackled on the sideline, and a late hit was called, moving the ball to the Tiger 35-yard line.

Rattler quarterback Bob Nicol then hit Clint Rutherford in stride all the way to the 10-yard line, setting up a first and goal for the Rattlers.

On fourth and eight, Cook swept around left end and into the end zone.

The Rattlers attempted a 2-point kick for their extra point attempt, but the Tigers blocked the kick, leaving the Rattlers with a 12-0 lead.

Once again, the Rattlers attempted an onside kick, and once again, the Tigers recovered the ball, this time on their own 46.

On their first play from scrimmage, the Tigers handed the ball to Nick Clochetti.

A hard hit by a pair of Rattler defenders dislodged the ball, and the Rattlers recovered, this time on the Tiger 43-yard line.

The Rattlers then went on an 11-play drive, but the drive finally stalled on the 14-yard line, and the Tigers took over on downs.

However, on the ensuing play, the Tigers committed their third turnover of the contest when they snapped the ball over the head of Shaffer.

The Rattlers recovered the ball in the end zone, building an 18-0 lead. Once again, the Rattlers attempted a 2-point conversion, and once again, the kick was no good. This time, the snap went over the holder's head.

Following the touchdown, the Rattlers once again attempted an onside kick, and once again, the Tigers recovered, this time on their own 42.

Trailing 18-0, the Tigers went to their pass offense, spreading the field with two receivers against each sideline and just the center and quarterback in the middle of the field.

The strategy worked, and four plays later, Gabriel Walker-Hopkins caught a Shaffer pass for a touchdown.

Shaffer passed to Tell Cox for the 1-point conversion, and the Tigers were back in the game, trailing just 18-7 with less than a minute left in the half.

The Tigers also attempted an onside kick and the Rattlers recovered on their own 46. On the first play from scrimmage, Matney swept right and crossed midfield.

However, on the next play, the Rattlers committed their first turnover of the contest, when Walker-Hopkins intercepted a Nicol pass and returned it to the 45-yard line.

Three-plays later, the Tigers capitalized in the Rattler mistake as Shaffer hit Mark Thomas with a perfect pass, and Thomas ran into the end zone for a 20-yard touchdown.

The Tigers failed on the conversion attempt, and the two teams went into the locker room at the half with the score 18-13.

Although both teams moved the ball well in the second half, penalties and turnovers and the inability to convert fourth-down plays stalled drives.

With the score still 18-13 late in the fourth quarter, Thomas intercepted a Nicol pass and returned it to the Tiger 35-yard line.

From there, the Tigers went on a long drive.

However, Shaffer had been injured earlier in the quarter. That turned out to be critical.

With their second string quarterback also out with an injury, the Tigers moved Thomas to quarterback.

After moving the ball inside of Rattler territory, Thomas attempted to hit Walker-Hopkins with a pass across the middle.

Nicol stepped in front and intercepted the ball at the 13-yard line.

LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN -  Isaiah Matney carries the ball for a big gain. Matney, who led the Rattlers in rushing, left the game in the second half with an injury.Three plays later, facing a third and long, the Rattlers handed the ball to Cook who started right, then reversed his field and sprinted around the defense for a game-deciding 88-yard touchdown run.

The extra point attempt failed, but with less than a minute remaining in the game, the Rattlers were in control.

The ensuing squib kick was returned to the Tiger 45-yard line. After a sack and three consecutive incomplete passes, the Rattlers took over on downs.

Mitchell/Spray/Wheeler County attempted to take a knee to end the game, but even that was difficult as they dropped the ball, and the Tigers recovered. However, time ran out before they could run another play.

"I consider Dayville/Monument to be our biggest rivals," Anderson said. "They are closest to us geographically, and all of these guys play grade school and junior high school sports against each other. It's like playing against your brother or your cousin because you want to beat them, but you can give them a hug afterwards and say, 'Man, you played just as hard as I did. We won this one, but maybe next time you will win.'"

Despite the relatively low score for a six-man football game, both teams moved the ball, gaining more than 700 yards of total offense between the two teams. In addition, there was just one punt the entire contest.

The win was the second win of the season for the Rattlers, who now have a 2-2 record.

Meanwhile, the Tigers fell to 1-4.

"We haven't been a team that has gotten a lot of wins, and it feels great to get a second win with these guys," Nicol said. "It was a great game, and Dayville/Monument definitely held their own."

Mitchell/Spray/Wheeler play at Harper Charter School, 5-0, on Friday, beginning at 2 p.m. Mountain Time.

Tigers 0 13 0 0 — 13

Rattlers 0 18 0 6 — 24

R - Johannes Emmerich 43-yard interception return. Pass failed.

R - Cook 8-yard run. Kick blocked.

R - Recovered fumble in end zone. Kick failed.

T - Gabriel Walker-Hopkins 30-yard touchdown pass from Donovan Shaffer. Shaffer pass to Tell Cox.

T - Mark Thomas 20-yard touchdown pass from Shaffer. Pass failed.

R - Cook 88-yard run. Run failed.

Six-man football rule differences

Field size: A six-man field is 40 yards wide instead of 50. Normally six-man fields are just 70 yards long. However, since the OSAA is running Oregon's six-man football experiment on a two-year trial they elected to leave the field at 100 yards so that teams did not need to move their goal posts.

First downs: Like in 11-man football teams have four downs to gain a first down, but unlike 11-man they must gain 15 yards for a first down.

Alignments: Teams must put a minimum of three players on the line of scrimmage.

Extra points: A kicked extra point is worth two points, while a run or pass conversion is worth just one point.

Crossing the line of scrimmage: The player that the ball is initially snapped to from the center may not cross the line of scrimmage with the ball unless he has handed or lateralled the ball to another player. He then becomes an eligible receiver, or may get the ball back and then become a runner.

Eligible receivers: Every player on the field is an eligible receiver, including the center.

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