Leading 12-6 in the second quarter, Philomath High appeared to be veering off in the direction of another close football game while facing unbeaten Woodburn, a Class 4A team that had outscored their first two opponents 89-0.
The Bulldogs had just driven 74 yards in eight plays with a 24-yard touchdown pass on a fourth-and-3 play call. Philomath needed to respond and not allow the visitors to capitalize on any sort of momentum shift.
On second-and-10 from its own 20, Philomath head coach Alex Firth called for a throwback screen. Senior quarterback Caleb Jensen rolled slightly to his right, turned and threw across the field to senior tight end Isaac Lattin. Senior lineman Joseph Choi and junior tight end Ty May threw down vicious blocks and Lattin had a lane of clear sailing down the left sideline 80 yards to the end zone.
Woodburn never recovered with the Warriors going on to a 32-12 victory.
“We knew in practice that it was going to be a good play most likely,” Lattin said. “Joseph Choi and Ty May had some really good blocks for me. I was worried there was going to be a flag (on May’s block) because I heard it.”
Philomath is off to a 3-0 start for the first time since 2013 when the Warriors finished 11-1 and reached the 4A semifinals.
Firth, who took over the program this year, said he’s seeing major improvements along the offensive line.
“I think we won this game at the point of attack on both sides of the ball, really dominant at the line of scrimmage,” he said. “It helps having backs that can create a little on their own but I don’t think those holes are there without the big gaps that our line was gouging there.”
Junior David Griffith had a career night with 178 yards rushing on 18 carries. As the coach mentioned, Griffith took advantage of the holes that kept opening up in front of him.
Griffith scored twice in the first quarter, the second time on a 58-yard run.
“It starts with the offensive line really,” Griffith said. “Those five guys play the whole game on both sides of the ball. That run’s (58-yard TD) not possible without them. Then it goes out to my receivers and their blocks … I have a lot of confidence when I’m running behind them; they open it up for me and I just have to run.”
Philomath rolled up 361 yards of total offense — 228 on the ground on 133 through the air. Besides the 178 from Griffith, senior Jacob Williams ran for 82 yards on just seven carries, an average of 11.7 yards per carry. Williams scored on a 55-yard run right up the middle midway through the third quarter to give the Warriors 25-6 lead.
The defense flexed its muscle several times throughout the evening with five quarterback sacks. Williams put Woodburn’s QB on his back twice with the other sacks recorded by May, sophomore Kaden Muir and Griffith. Choi had a fumble recovery in the fourth quarter at the Woodburn 5 and two plays later, Jensen hit May on a short TD pass.
Meanwhile, the Bulldogs failed to move the chains on third down until their 11th try late in the third quarter. Even then, the first down came courtesy of a Philomath facemask penalty.
“We’ve got a lot of good guys and then a shout-out to Coach (Will) Love,” Lattin said. “His defensive schemes are working well for us. We really get to the ball well; if we all do our jobs, then we’re a good unit.”
Woodburn averaged just 2.5 yards per rush and finished with only 159 total yards for the game.
“The defensive line played lights out,” Firth said. “I don’t know how many yards they rushed for but I imagine it wasn’t a lot. It just started at the point of attack and carried over and then we were able to run the ball.”
Philomath was also able to move the ball through the air. Lattin’s 80-yard TD helps the final stats, of course, but in all, Jensen completed 6 of 8 passes for 133 yards and two TD passes and one interception. The running game helped Philomath’s effectiveness with its passing.
“If we can do that, it sets up our passing game so we have to continue to work that run game and improve,” Firth said. “It sets everything else up for us offensively.”
Griffith came out of the game for a short time in the second half when he hyperextended an elbow, but it was not serious and he returned to the game.
Philomath won the game by 20 points despite four giveaways — three lost fumbles and an interception. The Warriors also had a punt blocked, failed on three extra points and had 60 yards in penalties, so not a perfect outing.
South Umpqua will be up next with Philomath traveling to the Myrtle Creek school this coming Friday. The Lancers are off to a 3-0 start with wins over Springfield (39-7), Pleasant Hill (48-0) and Corbett (60-29). Strength of schedule could be a factor with that record, however, with those three teams going a combined 1-6 so far this season.
Firth is familiar with South Umpqua, playing the Lancers when he was the offensive coordinator last season at Crescent Valley. The 5A Raiders lost, 36-14.
“They have a good football team, have a good tailback,” Firth said. “They’re a little bit of a mirror image of us, so it’ll be pretty interesting to see who does what to whom.”
Lattin knows the team will need another good week of practice to get ready for the Lancers.
“It’s probably going to be tougher than this,” Lattin said. “It just keeps getting harder and harder.”
Philomath 32, Woodburn 12
Friday, Sept. 17 at Clemens Field, Philomath HS
|PHS—David Griffith 9 run (run failed), 6:29|
PHS—Griffith 58 run (kick blocked), 1:40
|WHS—Ty Beyer 24 pass from Kaleb Robles (kick blocked), 9:31|
PHS—Isaac Lattin 80 pass from Caleb Jensen (Lattin kick), 8:31
|PHS—Jacob Williams 55 run (kick failed), 5:20|
WHS—Austin Ramirez 27 run (run failed), 1:31
|PHS—Ty May 3 pass from Jensen (Lattin kick), 5:34|
|>> Third-Down Efficiency||3-15||2-7|
|>> Fourth-Down Efficiency||4-5||0-1|
|>> Yards Per Pass||3.2||16.6|
|>> Yards Per Attempt||2.5||6.5|
|>> Punt Returns (No-Yds)||1-11||3-48|
|>> Kickoff Returns (No-Yds)||4-69||3-30|
|>> Interception Returns (No-Yds)||1-0||0-0|
|>> Special Teams||0-0||1-15|
|>> Interceptions Thrown||0||1|
|Time of Possession||26:05||21:55|
|>> First Half||14:07||9:53|
|>> Second Half||11:58||12:02|
Woodburn: Carter Pickett 18-57, Austin Ramirez 9-43, Cruz Veliz 6-20, Owen Elsasser 3-9, Ty Beyer 7-7, Kaleb Robles 8-(-6).
Philomath: David Griffith 18-178, Jacob Williams 7-82, Kaden Muir 1-10, Caleb Russell 2-(-20), Caleb Jensen 7-(-22).
Woodburn: Kaleb Robes 2-7-0-29, Cruz Veliz 0-2-0-0.
Philomath: Caleb Jensen 6-8-1-133.
Woodburn: Ty Beyer 1-24, Carter Pickett 1-5.
Philomath: Ty May 2-23, Isaac Lattin 1-80, Alek Russell 1-26, Warwick Bushnell 1-3, David Griffith 1-1.
(As of Sept. 17)
Special District 1 — South Conf All PF PA Philomath
Friday, Sept. 17
Philomath 32, Woodburn 12
Scio 28, Harrisburg 0
La Pine 37, Dayton 16
Rainier 57, Amity 22
Gaston 58, Taft 0
Willamina 29, Clatskanie 20
Friday, Sept. 24
Philomath at South Umpqua, 7 p.m.
Blanchet Catholic at Dayton, 7 p.m.
Douglas at Scio, 7 p.m.
Yamhill-Carlton at Amity, 7 p.m.
Willamina at Corbett, 7 p.m.
Taft at La Pine, 7 p.m.
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