Tigers suffer tough loss to Generals
It wasn't the only reason Newberg football lost by any stretch, but the ending of the Tigers' road game at Grant on Friday was brutal nonetheless. After a touchdown that presumably forced a second overtime in a thriller against the Generals, senior kicker Ethan Crowley missed the extra point and the Tigers lost 29-28.
NHS coach Kevin Hastin was quick to come to his kicker's defense and said Crowley's reliability outweighs this one mistake.
"Usually, he's very consistent," Hastin said. "Ethan hurts more than anyone else about this and is a great kid who cares a lot about the team. It wasn't that one play that lost the game – there were a ton of mistakes that could have changed the outcome of the game."
The game was 22-22 heading into overtime after the Tigers dispatched Grant 28-0 last season. This is a markedly improved Generals team, though, and Hastin said their athleticism proved to be a problem all night. It didn't help, he said, that Newberg was turning the ball over and committing a bevy of penalties.
"We definitely made too many mistakes," Hastin said. "We turned the ball over, they didn't. We had some penalties that really killed us, too. That's just not how we play football and we need to get back on track.
"I thought we competed at a high level physically. Our defense dominated the line of scrimmage, but (we) gave up big plays in the passing game."
Grant's lanky junior wideout Luke Borchardt tore up the Tigers all night, making big catch after big catch over smaller defenders and hauling in three total touchdowns. The 6-foot-5 receiver was a problem for Newberg throughout the game and its short, physical defensive backs were unable to contain him.
Hastin lauded the effort of Borchardt and said he noticed significant improvement from the Grant offense compared to last year, when the Tigers shut them out.
"They had more athletes and were faster on defense than last year too," Hastin said. "Offensively, they had a couple guys that could really run by you. (Borchardt) had three huge touchdowns and was incredibly fast for his size."
The front seven for Newberg played well and the defensive backfield was able to coalesce around Grant's slot receivers, but Borchardt was the determining factor in the end. If the Tigers hadn't made the mistakes that got them in the position they were in, the game might have been different, Hastin said.
But alas, a tough road loss drops Newberg to 1-1 on the season after it opened up with a lopsided win over South Salem. Now, the Tigers look ahead to a home game on Friday against Summit – who travels from Bend for its third consecutive road game to start the season.
Hastin noted the passing game for the Storm is going to be something to look out for, so Newberg's secondary is going to need to be on its toes. Newberg lost 53-39 to Summit last year when it played on the road in Bend, so it remains to be seen what will happen this season at a more comfortable elevation.
It would be easy for the Tigers to let the emotional hangover of last week's tough loss last into the following game, but Hastin said he wants to avoid it. He delivered a message of bouncing back to his team in the locker room after the Grant loss, and he hopes they take it to heart at practice this week and on the field Friday night.
"I just told them that we need to flush this as soon as possible and put it behind us," Hastin said. "Our message was that we made a lot of mistakes – it wasn't just one – and attention to detail is everything. If we had a bit more of that, we would've been on the other side celebrating."
Newberg vs. Summit kicks off at 7 p.m. Friday at Loran Douglas Field. At halftime, a special ceremony will honor the memory of youth football coach Ian Holmes, who died in March.
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