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Crook County Cowboys enjoys a massive Homecoming victory over winless Huskies

LON AUSTIN - Joshua Knight catches two-point conversion pass from quarterback Palmer Smith in the first quarter of the Homecoming game against North Marion Friday. Smith and Knight also hooked up for the touchdown. The Cowboys unleashed on the Huskies, winning 55-12.

Playing before a nearly capacity homecoming crowd at Ward Rhoden Stadium Friday night, the Cowboys fell behind early before roaring back to take a 55-12 victory over the North Marion Huskies in Intermountain Conference football action.

It was an emotional game for the Cowboys. Brayden Duke's father, Steve, lost his battle with cancer just a little more than a week earlier, and the team honored Steve Duke with a moment of silence prior to the start of the game. In addition, immediately prior to the game, teammates gave Brayden Duke a hand-engraved metal plaque that said Duke Strong.

Playing with a heavy heart, Duke carried the ball nine times for 64 yards and three touchdowns as well as getting four solo tackles, two assists, one sack, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.

"You know, football helps keep my mind clear," Duke said following the game. "I have a whole football team that is my family surrounding me, and they are supportive, and they push me and they make me want to do the best I can."

Although the final score looks like a blowout for the Cowboys, that's not the way the game started. Crook County kicked off to the Huskies, and just two plays later, North Marion scored on a 57-yard pass from quarterback Landon Fowler to wide receiver Kamron Anderson. Just 50 seconds into the game, the Huskies led 6-0. The 2-point conversion attempt was unsuccessful, but North Marion had their first points of the season.

On their first possession, the Cowboys were unable to move the ball and were eventually forced to punt, their only punt of the game. Then came perhaps the biggest play of the game. North Marion center Charlie Medina snapped the ball over Fowler's head, and Trent West recovered the ball in the end zone for a Crook County touchdown.

The kick was blocked, but Crook County was back on track with the score tied 6-6 with 8:45 still remaining in the first quarter.

"One thing we have been talking about is dealing with adversity," CCHS head coach Pard Smith said following the game. "So, we want to come out and play blue collar and disciplined football. I think we were playing hard, but we had a couple of mistakes. But, we stayed true to the course and persevered, and once we got rolling, I felt like they played hard and disciplined most of the night."

From that point on, it was all Crook County. North Marion had just two first downs in the half, both on Crook County penalties, while Crook County scored 29 more points in the half.

First, Crook County quarterback Palmer Smith hit Joshua Knight from 9 yards out with 8 seconds remaining in the first quarter. Another pass from Smith to Knight gave Crook County the 2-point conversion and a 14-0 lead.

On their next play from scrimmage, Fowler fumbled the ball, and Crook County recovered on the North Marion 23-yard line.

The play ended the first quarter. It didn't take long for the Cowboys to score again. This time, Duke carried the ball across the goal line from the 8-yard line. A pass from Smith to Knight was good, and the Cowboys led 22-6, with 10:13 remaining in the half.

Two minutes later, Knight blocked a punt, and the Cowboys took over on the 35-yard line. Three plays later, Duke scored his second touchdown of the game on a 7-yard run. The 2-point conversion failed, but Crook County had extended their lead to 28-6.

Late in the half, Duke sacked Fowler, causing a fumble, which he recovered. Five plays later, Smith carried the ball in from one yard out. The kick by Cameron Carr was good, and the Cowboys led 35-6. Crook County nearly scored once more in the half. West intercepted a pass from Fowler and returned it 55 yards all the way to the North Marion 20-yard line before he was finally tackled, ending the half.

It didn't take Crook County long to score again as Knight took the kickoff to start the third quarter and returned the ball 70 yards for a touchdown. Carr's kick failed, but the Cowboys led 41-6.

The remainder of the game was played with a running clock as the Cowboys continued to increase their lead.

Duke scored again on a 3-yard run with 6:34 left in the third quarter. The kick by Easton Perrin was good, and the Cowboys led 48-6.

After a Knight interception, Crook County scored again, this time on a West run. Perrin's kick was good, and the Cowboys led 55-6.

"Tonight was a huge step forward," Duke said. "The last two weeks have been rough. Our offensive line finally got started, and we were able to run the ball. That was a huge part of the game. We are going to have to keep working hard, stay focused, watch film and say locked in."

North Marion finally scored again on the final play of the game on a 2-yard run by Kaden Henderson. The 2-point conversion attempt was no good, and the Cowboys came away with the victory and a 1-0 start to Tri-Valley Conference play.

"Our boys played hard," coach Smith said. "North Marion has some good athletes, and they are good up front. We got a couple of guys healthy and that helped a bunch. We've been pretty dinged up. When we get to the heart of our league and if we want to play for a league championship, then we can't afford to have the penalties and some of the mistakes we had tonight."

Crook County carried the ball 29 times for 207 yards and completed eight of 14 passes for 63 yards. West led the Cowboy ground attack with 101 yards on 12 carries, while Smith added seven carries for 38 yards.

Knight caught three passes for a touchdown and two 2-point conversions, while West also had three catches for 27 yards, and Kyrie Willis had two catches for 19 yards.

In addition to leading the Cowboys in rushing, West had three solo tackles, an assist, one sack, the fumble recovery for a touchdown and an interception. Caleb Goozee had five solo tackles and two assists, while Knight had a blocked punt, an interception and two solo tackles.

Crook County is now 2-2 on the season, while North Marion dropped to 0-4. The Cowboys are back in action on Thursday when they travel to Molalla, 0-1, 0-4. The Indians have not played in the past two weeks due to COVID protocol but are expected to be back in time to take on the Cowboys. Game time is scheduled for 7 p.m.

North Marion – 6 0 0 6 – 12

Crook County – 14 21 20 0 – 55

NM - 57-yd pass from Landon Fowler to Kamoron Anderson. Two-point attempt failed.

CC – Trent West fumble recovery in end zone. Cameron Carr kick failed.

CC – Palmer Smith 9-yd pass to Joshua Knight. Two-point pass from Smith to Knight.

CC – Duke 8-yd run. Smith Pass to Knight.

CC – Duke 7-yd run. Two-point attempt failed.

CC – Smith 1-yd run. Carr kick good.

CC – Knight 70-yd kickoff return. Carr kick no good.

CC – Duke 3-yd run. Easton Perrin kick good.

CC – West 1-yd run. Perrin kick good.

NM – Kaden Henderson 2-yd run. Two-point attempt failed.

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