The Outlaws gridders are headed to the 2A state playoffs after pulling out a final-seconds 20-14 victory over the Imbler Panthers Oct. 28.
The game saw Imbler nursing a 14-6 lead going into halftime, but the Outlaws defense came out rock-steady, holding Imbler scoreless in the second half. A late third-quarter touchdown saw the Outlaws narrowing the gap to 14-12 after a failed two-point conversion.
The Outlaws had scoring opportunities as the Panthers’ offense sputtered. A drive that saw the team first-and-10 on the Panther one-yard-line ended with the Outlaws incurring an off-sides penalty, later turning the ball over on downs.
The defense held the Panthers inside the five-yard line. The ensuing punt from the end zone shanked, and the Outlaws took over on the Panthers’ 13-yard line, but failed to move the ball.
With 35 seconds remaining in the game, the Panthers looked to be easy victors. They had the ball in Outlaws red zone, but on fourth and two, the team inexplicably tried a pass instead of sitting on the ball, which proved their undoing.
Senior Brett Greenshields broke into the backfield, felling the Panther’s quarterback to the turf more than 10 yards behind the line of scrimmage. The ball squirted out another six yards toward the Outlaws’ goal and senior Cole Farwell scooped up the pigskin and ran 54 yards for the touchdown and win. The stunned Panthers were unable to stop the two-point conversion. An offensive drive in the few remaining 34 seconds saw some success but failed to score points as the Outlaws fans roared their joy.
Coach Rusty Eschler credited his team for not giving up when the chips were down while also lauding the play of Farwell and Greenshields.
“Brett broke through and came across the top and made the play,” Eschler said. “Most kids want to dive on the ball, but Cole decided to scoop it up and run.”
Greenshields and Farwell said surrender was not an option.
“I didn’t see any point in giving up,” Greenshields said. “After I sacked the quarterback, I saw the ball squirt out and started to get up after it. Then I saw Cole getting it.”
Farwell said he told himself before the touchdown play that it was his last minute of high school football, and he wasn’t going to go down without a fight. He also first considered diving on the ball as he was taught.
“That was my first instinct, but I knew we needed to score, and I saw an empty field in front of me, and I ran,” he said.
The Outlaws ended their season second in the Wapiti League with a 2-1 record and 3-3 overall and a seventh ranking by the OSAA.
In the first round of 2A state playoffs, Enterprise will host Kennedy High School near Silverton on Nov. 4 at 1 p.m.