WALLOWA — The Wallowa Cougars were able to shake off a tough season-opening loss to Adrian to get into the win column.

Lute Ramsden rushed for two touchdowns, passed for a third, added two in special teams and amassed 320 yards of offense as the Cougars opened an early 30-point lead and held on for a 36-22 victory over the Union Bobcats on Friday, Sept. 24.

“He had a heck of a game,” head coach Jeremy McCulloch said. “We knew coming in he was gong to have to carry a lot of the load, as well as Jesse Duncan at running back, just with where we were at personnel wise for the week. Main goal was for our kids to play physical, downhill football. I think they accomplished that, particularly in the first half.”

McCulloch noted the Cougars had just 14 players available Friday night, and among the players were some recovering from illness or even a quarantine, though McCulloch said players who had been out were not necessarily sick with COVID-19.

Ramsden totaled 238 yards on the ground on 25 carries, making up the large majority of Wallowa’s 283 rushing yards. The junior quarterback actually scored four different ways, not only throwing and rushing for scores, but adding an 85-yard kickoff return and a 65-yard punt return for touchdowns as the Cougars built up a 36-6 lead at the half.

“For the most part trying to get our tight ends vertical, setting up some of that and then just allowing Lute to improv and play downhill and be able to read the field and use his legs a lot (was the first-half key),” McCulloch said. “… The special teams plays were important as well, that allowed us to get going. Scoring the first play of the game set the tone. Definitely multiple factors, but probably our open sets where we were able to allow Lute to survey the field, hit our tight ends appropriately and our backs, and certainly allow him to use his legs.”

Lucas Hulse added 73 yards receiving and a touchdown through the air, and Duncan had 42 yards rushing. In all, Wallowa had 365 yards of offense.

Union drew closer with two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to make the score more respectable at the end.

Wallowa (1-1 overall) visits Cove on Friday, Oct. 1.

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