SALEM — A pick six, a lost fumble and an unsportsmanlike penalty on what would’ve been third-and-12 — those three moments in the game all occurring within a three-minute stretch of the fourth quarter — led to Philomath losing the lead.
Blanchet Catholic, playing in front of its home fans and attempting to start the season 2-0, had gone in front 25-21 with 8:26 left in the game. Junior Noe Contreras had the interception return for a touchdown and senior Kyle Fromwiller followed up with a line plunge for the go-ahead score.
“We probably could’ve just tucked our tails at the end after the interception and the penalty and mailed it in at that point,” first-year coach Alex Firth said. “But we didn’t, we came back.”
The Warriors did indeed respond and with their backs to the wall. Facing fourth-and-9 from the Blanchet 42, quarterback Caleb Jensen hit a wide-open Ty May on a post route for what would be the game-winning touchdown, 27-25.
The Cavaliers tried to respond on the ensuing possession and picked up a couple of first downs but the drive stalled when they backed up 10 yards on a holding penalty and then lost another nine when May broke through up the middle and sacked the quarterback.
Philomath ran out the clock with five straight David Griffith runs and Jensen kneeled in victory formation inside the Blanchet 10.
“The resilience they showed was huge for us,” Firth said. “I’m really happy they were able to basically get themselves together, put a drive together and score.”
On the game-winning play, May headed upfield on a post while freshman Warwick Bushnell ran a corner. As Firth described, “the free safety loses one of the two routes in coverage and he lost the post route. So that’s why Ty was wide open.”
Jensen threw a perfect strike to May.
“I saw that they had no free safety over the top, so I was like, ‘Ty’s going to be open because everybody else is 6 inches shorter than him,’” Jensen said. “I moved a little bit in the pocket because I sensed some pressure … Ty was wide open and I gave him a catchable ball and he did the rest.”
May said his quarterback deserves the credit for the play working so well.
“Really, it’s Caleb,” May said. “I can do all the running I can and catch it but Caleb’s making the throws.”
For May, it turned out to be his only reception of the game. He was itching to get the ball and had told his coach that he could beat the corner.
“Coach said my time would come and we’d get the ball in my hands,” May said. “Coach Firth — he’s an exceptional coach. He knows what he’s doing and he puts us in a place to win, which is nice. He gave me my shot and I was able to haul it in with a good throw by Caleb.”
May started this season wearing No. 85 but came out for Friday night’s game with the No. 30 jersey.
“My pops wore it and I wanted to wear his number,” May said. “I wore 85, ocho cinco, for a week and it just didn’t feel right so I wanted to put on 30 again.”
Philomath had led the whole game until those miscues in the fourth quarter. In the opening quarter, the two teams traded punts before the Warriors got on the scoreboard with a 51-yard pass from Jensen to Bushnell on a third-and-20 play. The Cavaliers came back with a TD on a Fromwiller 14-yard run but the Warriors blocked the extra point with sophomore Kaden Muir rushing the middle.
Philomath responded on its next possession with Jensen connecting with senior Alek Russell on a pass play that covered 76 yards to get the ball down to the 4. On the next play, Griffith waltzed into the end zone with 25 seconds left in the first quarter.
Blanchet scored a second touchdown on a 1-yard Javier Rodriguez run and trailed 14-12 at halftime. Senior Isaac Lattin’s two extra points were the difference in the game.
Philomath took a 21-12 lead with 3:02 remaining in the third quarter on a Griffith two-yard run, Lattin again successful on the extra point. Blanchet followed with the Contreras pick six, a fumble recovery by Rodriguez and Fromwiller’s second TD.
Firth knows his team needs to clean up its mistakes.
“We can’t continue to do that and think that we can win football games — digging ourselves those holes with those penalties,” he said. “It’s continuing to work on those things and not make those mistakes.”
Philomath had a decided advantage in total offense with 320 yards to Blanchet’s 174. Jensen completed 5 of 11 for 183 yards and Griffith carried 28 times for 112 yards. Russell and Bushnell each had two catches for 84 and 57 yards, respectively.
Philomath moves to 2-0 on the season after facing intense pressure in the fourth quarter — especially with the game-winner on fourth-and-9. Jensen knows it’s only the beginning.
“We’re going to have to get used to it because there are teams like Amity and Dayton that are going to be doing the exact same thing all night long,” Jensen said.
Those games come late in the season. Up next this coming Friday will be the team’s home opener against Woodburn. The Bulldogs are off to a 2-0 start with victories of 35-0 over Klamath Union and 54-0 over Valley Catholic.
“Going into this next week of practice, it’s us and continuing to work the stuff we work and cleaning up the mistakes,” Firth said. “It’s going to get harder from this point forward so we just cannot continue to make those kinds of mistakes and expect to win games.”
Philomath 27, Blanchet Catholic 25
Friday, Sept. 10 at Blanchet Catholic HS, Salem
|Blanchet Catholic (1-1)||6||6||0||13||12||25|
|PHS—Warwick Bushnell 51 pass from Caleb Jensen (Isaac Lattin kick), 5:22|
BC—Kyle Fromwiller 14 run (kick blocked), 2:34
PHS—David Griffith 4 run (Lattin kick), 0:25
|BC—Javier Rodriguez 1 run (pass failed), 7:12|
|PHS—Griffith 2 run (Lattin kick), 3:02|
|BC—Noe Contreras 24 interception return (kick blocked), 11:28|
BC—Fromwiller 1 run (Max Hoskins kick), 8:26
PHS—Ty May 42 pass from Jensen (kick failed), 5:55
|>> Third-Down Efficiency||4-9||3-9|
|>> Fourth-Down Efficiency||2-2||2-4|
|>> Yards Per Pass||16.6||2.6|
|>> Yards Per Attempt||3.3||3.8|
|>> Punt Returns (No-Yds)||0-0||1-4|
|>> Kickoff Returns (No-Yds)||5-89||4-29|
|>> Interception Returns (No-Yds)||0-0||2-29|
|>> Special Teams||2-30||0-0|
|>> Interceptions Thrown||2||0|
|Time of Possession||24:00||24:00|
|>> First Half||11:42||12:18|
|>> Second Half||12:18||11:42|
Philomath: David Griffith 28-112, Caleb Jensen 13-22, Warwick Bushnell 1-3.
Blanchet Catholic: Noe Contreras 10-72, Kyle Fromwiller 11-52, Javier Rodriguez 15-45, Spencer Kowalski 4-(-18).
Philomath: Caleb Jensen 5-11-2-183.
Blanchet Catholic: Spencer Kowalski 2-9-0-23.
Philomath: Alek Russell 2-84, Warwick Bushnell 2-57, Ty May 1-42.
Blanchet Catholic: Luke Holland 1-15, Kyle Fromwiller 1-8.
(As of Sept. 10)
|Special District 1 — South||Conf||All||PF||PA|
Friday, Sept. 10
Philomath 27, Blanchet Catholic 25
Dayton 45, Yamhill-Carlton 14
Rainier 36, Scio 8
Reedsport at Amity, ccd.
Sheridan at Willamina, ccd.
Taft at Clatskanie, ccd.
Friday, Sept. 17
Woodburn at Philomath, 7 p.m.
La Pine at Dayton, 7 p.m.
Amity at Rainier, 7 p.m.
Clatskanie at Willamina, 7 p.m.
Harrisburg at Scio, 7 p.m.
Taft at Gaston, 7 p.m.
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