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Crook County ties game late to force overtime, but is unable to score in the extra frame while North Marion kicks field goal to win

LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Brody Connell drops back to pass in a game earlier this year. Connell went 14-20 with a touchdown in the Cowboys' 17-14 overtime loss to North Marion last Friday.After starting the season 3-0, the Cowboys have struggled offensively once the Special District 2 season has begun.

Last week, Crook County dropped a close home game to The Dalles. This Friday was even harder to take as the Cowboys lost in overtime 17-14 to the North Marion Huskies, a loss keyed by two blocked punts.

"We definitely had opportunities to win that game," Crook County head coach Ryan Cochran said. "Obviously any time you lose in overtime it's disappointing, but I'm extremely proud of our kids efforts and battling."

Neither team was able to score in the first quarter.

Crook County broke through and scored early in the second quarter on a 6-yard run from Kaden Horton. There was a bad snap on the extra point attempt so the Cowboys never got a kick off. Still, they led 6-0.

After stopping North Marion on their next possession, the Cowboys had the football deep in their own territory.

Unable to move the ball, Crook County dropped into punt formation and the Huskies broke through the Cowboy line, blocking the punt.

A short time later, North Marion took advantage of a short field to score their first points of the game.

The two-point conversion was good and the Huskies took an 8-6 lead into the locker room at the half.

The game was delayed for more than 45 minutes early in the third quarter when one of the officials was injured.

No ambulance was available, so play was unable to resume as the official laid on the field.

"We had a weird deal in the third quarter with almost an hour delay because of an injured ref," Cochran said. "It looked like he completely dislocated his knee and they couldn't get ambulances there. He wasn't doing good, so 45 minutes later we finally get back to playing."

When play resumed, the Huskies picked up their second punt block of the evening. Once again, North Marion took advantage of great field position, scoring a few plays later to take a 14-6 lead.

This time, the two point conversion attempt was stopped by the Cowboys, and North Marion took the eight-point lead into the fourth quarter.

With neither team able to move the ball consistently, that's the way the score stayed until late in the fourth quarter.

The Cowboys got the ball back one final time, still trailing by eight with under two minutes remaining in the game.

"With about 1:40 left, we went to the two-minute drill," Cochran said. "We moved the ball down the field and scored with 46 seconds left on the clock. We went for the two-point convertion and got it, tying it up."

Crook County quarterback Brody Connell hit Trevyn Smith with a 7-yard pass for the score. Connell then dropped back to pass and hit Hogan Smith in the corner of the end zone for the two-point conversion.

Crook County kicker Elias Villagomez then booted the ensuing kickoff into the end zone, giving the Huskies the ball on the 20-yard line.

The Cowboys were able to keep the Huskies from moving the ball, forcing overtime.

Crook County had the ball first in overtime. On their first play, they were stuffed at the line of scrimmage for no gain.

On their second play, Connell was sacked for a big loss.

Connell completed a pass on third down, but the Crook County was only able to get the ball back to the original line of scrimmage.

Facing a fourth and 10 from the 25-yard line, Crook County brought Villagomez into the game to attempt a 42-yard field goal.

According to Cochran, the ball had plenty of distance, but it went wide left.

On their first possession in overtime, the Huskies quickly moved the ball inside the 10-yard line.

North Marion had three plays from the 5-yard line, but failed to gain a yard.

On fourth and goal, they then drilled a 22-yard field goal to win the game.

"Those two blocked punts gave them a short field and they got their scores, so that's definitely an area that we see where if we could have taken care of business there maybe would have been a different outcome. We were real close. I think that's why it stings so bad. Our kids battled their tails off and got us into position to force it into overtime, so we were really close.

For the second consecutive week, the Cowboys played without a key player.

Against The Dalles, Villagomez was unable to play because he was ejected from a soccer match the day before.

On Friday, the Cowboys were without starting wingback and middle linebacker Kyle Knudtson who was ejected inside the last two minutes of the Cowboys' loss to The Dalles.

Crook County appealed the suspension, but lost, leaving Knudtson unable to play.

"That did not help us, especially how he is on both sides of the ball," Cochran said. "That definitely wasn't a help."

Without Knudtson, the Cowboys leading rusher over the course of the season, the Cowboys were able to gain just 54 yards on the ground the entire game.

Connell carried the ball 18 times for 44 yards, while the remaining Cowboy runners all gained fewer than 10 yards on the night.

Connell completed 14 out of 20 passes for 158 yards, giving the Cowboys just 212 yards of total offense in the game.

Hogan Smith finished with four catches for 57 yards, while Austin Rochelle also had four catches gaining 51 yards.

Trevyn Smith finished with three catches for seven yards and a touchdown.

Defensively, Clayton Berman was outstanding, finishing with 14 solo tackles and an assist. Brayden Duke added six solo tackles and three assists, while Connell finished with seven tackles and Travyn Smith with eight.

The loss has put the Cowboys in a tough situation. Their game Thursday night at Gladstone becomes extremely important if Crook County has any hope of keeping their playoff hopes alive.

The Gladiators are ranked fourth in the latest power rankings and sport a 4-1 overall record and a 2-0 league record.

"Gladstone is a really good football team," Cochran said. "We are ready to go to work this week and we are saying 'Heh, we have to come to practice Monday ready to roll.' We are excited for the game."

Game time is scheduled for 7 p.m.

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