The Philomath High School football team will try to regroup and heal up following a 38-20 loss at Cascade on Friday night.
The Cougars and Warriors — two programs that have played some memorable games over the years — were in a one-point dogfight at halftime but Cascade was able to pull away in the second half with 24 unanswered points.
Philomath drops to 1-5 overall, 1-3 in 4A Special District 3 and will come home to face an exceptional Marist Catholic team at 7:30 p.m. Friday. The Spartans will come into Clemens Field with records of 5-1 and 3-0.
Cascade, meanwhile, improves to 4-2 and 3-0 and will head to Junction City next week.
Down 14-0 after the first quarter, Philomath got on the scoreboard in the second on a two-play drive that featured junior quarterback Kaden Muir. The possession started with Muir breaking loose on a 63-yard run to the 7-yard line. On the next play, he scored on a zone read.
Said PHS coach Alex Firth, “He basically had 70 yards of offense on that one drive by himself.”
Philomath got the ball back with about 3 minutes remaining in the first half and put another touchdown on the scoreboard following an effective drive. Muir scored his second TD of the night — this time on a 1-yard quarterback sneak.
“We played really well in the second quarter,” Firth said. “We found some offense … I’m proud of the way we played in the first half.”
Cascade was clinging to a 14-13 lead at halftime — the difference between a missed extra point by the Warriors. But the Cougars created some cushion in the third, increasing their lead to 22-13 with 8:13 left and then 29-13 with 19 seconds left in the quarter. Seconds later on the final play of the third, Cascade came up with an interception deep in PHS territory.
“Third quarter we came out and gave up a couple of big runs,” Firth said. “They did a good job bottling us up and running the ball.”
Later in the game, Cascade turned the ball over on downs at one point but ended up scoring two more points on a safety when Philomath snapped the ball out of the back of the end zone. The Cougars scored their final points with 2:38 left on a 44-yard run.
Philomath freshman Rocco De La Rosa scored on a 15-yard run for his first varsity touchdown late in the game to account for the final score.
“We were right in there and you know, they just ground it out, bottled us up and they took care of it,” Firth said. “Second half, we were a little beat up.”
Philomath has been hampered by injuries over the past two games with some of its top players on the sideline. Starting running back and linebacker David Griffith was not available to play and the team’s offensive and defensive lines have been hit hard. Sophomore lineman Brady Russell left the game against the Cougars with an injury.
Philomath finished the game with two freshmen and a sophomore on the offensive line.
Sophomore Caleb Russell entered the game at quarterback in the fourth quarter and Firth said he threw the ball well. Sophomore Warwick Bushnell and freshman CD Nuno both had exceptional catches, he added.