Lost opportunities, mainly in the form of turnovers, brought an end to the Outlaws 2017 2A state football champion hopes Saturday. The Outlaws lost to Kennedy High School from the Salem area in the first round, 33-0.
The game started evenly with neither team scoring until Kennedy hit paydirt with 4:32 remaining in the first quarter.
The Trojans controlled the rest of the game. Although they passed the ball enough to keep the defense honest, they focused on a running game that ate up both huge chunks of yardage and clock time.
Enterprise opportunities included a fumble after a 20-yard kick return, which later became a touchdown. An intercepted pass had the same result. The score stood 20-0 at the half.
The Outlaws held Kennedy scoreless in the third quarter and a good portion of the fourth quarter, but the sputtering offense left the defense on the field for extended periods, which contributed to the two fourth-quarter Trojans scores. The offense sustained a drive to the Kennedy 34-yard line but stalled on an Outlaws fumble.
Both Cole Farwell and Trace Evans ran well for the Outlaws and quarterback Justus Even saw some success with short yardage passes up the middle. The defense remained steadfast for the most part but spent the vast majority of the game on the field.
Senior Brett Greenshields blocked two PAT attempts.
Farwell led the rushing with 44 yards and Jake Coggins gained 27. Dylan Marr had 21 yards receiving and Trace Evans was good for 34 yards airmail. The offense gave up two fumbles and three interceptions.
“We were in the football game, but we didn’t do anything to give ourselves more momentum,” Coach Rusty Eschler said. “Anytime we started a drive or had anything positive, we’d turn the ball over.”
Eschler gave his team credit for a hard-fought game. He noted that the Outlaws last appeared in a playoff game in 2013 and last hosted a playoff game in 2002 or 2003.
“We came out and fought a lot harder in the second half, and the first half was turnovers. We easily could have gone into half time only down 7-0,” Eschler said. Those back-to-back turnovers ended up being 14 points –– that killed us.”
Eschler noted that the team is young and played without one of its leading rushers.
“Considering no one expected us to be here in the first place, the kids played well –– all season,” Eschler said. “The kids did an outstanding job. They’re pretty special.”