It was classic, smash-mouth, give-no-ground football.
Enterprise High School's team threatened to upset Pilot Rock on a chilly Oct. 9 at home. The Outlaws mustered only two touchdowns - a pair of scoring runs by sophomore Marcus Lynn - but most of the night, their defense forced the Rockets backwards and successfully protected that slim lead. Down to the last 21 seconds, Pilot Rock's powerful 205-pound Travis Copeland tied the game by catching a 12-yard pass from quarterback Lane Byrnes in the end zone and kicking the extra point. In overtime, Byrnes found Dylan Cutler for another late touchdown to steal the decision of a 20-14 thriller.
"We really proved ourselves," Enterprise senior nose guard Jaymes Butterfield said. "Our defense stepped up. We came out and played hard-nosed football. I couldn't be more proud of these guys."
It took a powerhouse like Pilot Rock, which had outscored its previous two opponents 77-7, to hand Enterprise its first loss this season. Now 4-1 overall and 2-1 in Blue Mountain Conference, the Outlaws already have their program's most wins since 2002.
Enterprise took Pilot Rock by surprise. In the first quarter, the Outlaws kept pushing the Rockets back. Eventually, Copeland floated a punt high straight up and Enterprise took possession just 25 yards shy of the goal line. On the third play, Lynn raced 18 yards to the end zone and sophomore Erich Roepke added the extra for a 7-0 edge.
The Enterprise defense maintained its pressure. The Rockets' only meaningful gain in the first quarter was Byrnes' 55-yard pass to D'Marcus Bowie over the middle. They slowly nudged closer until they had a first-down inside the 10. But Enterprise sophomore Michael Baty (seven tackles) chased down Byrnes and flattened him in the backfield for an 11-yard loss. On fourth down, Byrnes fumbled and Enterprise senior Cade Steen smothered the ball at the 30.
The Outlaws carried their prowess over to the second quarter. Junior defensive back Kyle Stangel intercepted Byrnes' pass and hurried back to the 11-yard line. Also the Enterprise quarterback, Stangel called one play and gave the ball to Lynn who put the Outlaws ahead 14-0.
Five minutes later, Cutler set up Pilot Rock's first touchdown by sprinting 75 yards. Once again, the Outlaws almost stopped the Rockets cold. But on fourth-and-goal, Byrnes hit Copeland with a 15-yard scoring pass.
The rest of the game, both defenses dominated. The third quarter featured just 50 yards of total offense by both teams combined. Until the game's closing seconds, Pilot Rock's offense remained stagnant. Meanwhile, Enterprise cautiously protected the ball by adhering to a proven rushing attack. Lynn finished the game with 77 yards on 21 carries. Senior fullback Jacob Girtz took 15 handoffs for 50 yards. Stangel tried four passes, but the Rockets intercepted two of them.
"We struggle throwing the ball," Enterprise assistant coach Kevin McCadden said. "Our lack of a passing game didn't keep them honest. They'd load guys on the line and walk their linebackers and defensive backs closer for more support against our run."
For the first time this season, the young Outlaws will attempt to rebound from a setback. Next, they will ride the bus Oct. 16 over to Elgin. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.