ENTERPRISE — The Enterprise Outlaws have already seen their fair share of close games this fall.
On Friday, Sept. 17, they finally gained the upper hand in one of those tight contests.
“This time we found a way to win,” head coach Rusty Eschler said. “I’m really happy for the kids, mainly for them ... to finally (have) everything come together and get a win.”
Jackson Decker’s one-yard touchdown with 2:03 to play proved to be the difference as the Outlaws held on for an 18-12 home win over Imbler for their first victory of the season.
The win was a needed one for the Outlaws after dropping two tight battles to start the season, including a 16-14 setback to Crane at home in their season opener, and a 36-32 loss at Pilot Rock a week later.
“It feels great,” Decker said. “Those first two games, we lost one by two, lost the other by four, and it really sucks when you are that close. We’ve been working all week at practice to just do it right, come in here and execute. It paid off.”
Decker’s score came after Enterprise held Imbler on downs inside its own 10-yard-line. Panther quarterback Carter Crook was tackled on fourth down to give the ball back to Enterprise with just 2:50 to play, and Decker’s keeper from a yard out on third down gave the Outlaws an 18-6 lead.
Imbler, which struggled against Enterprise’s defense most of the evening, quickly got downfield, needing just 45 seconds for Crook to connect with Tel McBride for a six-yard TD with 1:18 to play. Enterprise, though, recovered the ensuing kickoff and was able to kneel out the victory.
The teams battled through a defensive-oriented first quarter — one that saw each team grab an interception — before Imbler opened the scoring in the second quarter. Dallin Rasmussen scampered in from 21 yards out for a 6-0 Panthers’ lead with 10:08 to play in the opening half.
Enterprise immediately responded, and used the big play to do so. On the third play of the ensuing drive, Gray got free down the left side of the field and rumbled 52 yards to find pay dirt and tie the score. It remained tied at 6-6 at halftime.
Enterprise took the lead for good on the final play of the third quarter when Trey Stewart punched it in from two yards out for a 12-6 edge. The score capped a drive that was the epitome of what Enterprise wants to do offensively. The roughly six-minute drive was 10 plays — all runs — and 84 yards, with the Outlaws blending together the mixture of Gideon Gray, Stewart and Decker all the way downfield.
The big play was a 33-yard run by Gray that set up the Outlaws inside the 10, and Stewart scored a play later. Gray had 57 yards rushing on the drive.
“The whole thing was just take our time,” Eschler said. “We got into a rhythm there, and we were just burning clock and getting five yards at a time, six yards at a time, just moving the chains, moving the chains, and moving the ball down the field.”
Enterprise stopped Imbler on the next two possessions, and had a long clock-eating drive in between that, while it didn’t result in points, pinned Imbler deep. The four-and-out by Imbler on the next drive set up the game-sealing score.
“We fly around, we hit people, we play good defense,” Decker said. “I’d say the biggest thing is just saying up on each other.”
The Outlaws (1-2 overall, 1-2 Special District 2-West) are home again Friday when they host Dufur.
Also Joseph stays unbeaten
Joseph ran its record to 3-0 and picked up its first road win of the season, edging Dayville/Monument on the road Friday, Sept 17, 20-6.
The Eagles continue their three-game road slate on Sept. 24 when they travel to face Prairie City/Burnt River.
Wallowa gets off to rough start
Wallowa’s delayed start to the season was a tough one, as 2019 state champion Adrian routed the Cougars in Wallowa Friday, Sept. 17, 58-0.
The Cougars are at home again Friday, Sept. 24, when they meet up with Union.