By Jeremy McDonald
CORVALLIS, Ore.– Defense wins Championships some old football minds would say.
And for much of Thursday’s Corvallis-Dallas Varsity football game, there was a lot of that as the game was tied 14-all entering the later part of the game before Kenny Morley dashed 92-yards to put the Spartans up on the Dragons 20-14 after the blocked PAT by the Dallas special teams.
But outside of the one huge break-out play, the Dragons defense kept Corvallis’ offense at bay as did the Spartans defense keeping the Dallas running game from turning the game around.
Truth be told, as the game came down to crunch time, defense was clutch as the Dragons PJ Holgate forced a fumble that Will Burton recovered with 2:55 left in the game.
“It was just big, we were looking for a spark. Something to give us a little energy and that was it. We were happy to have got that…It was a good spark of energy,” said Burton as he went back to his offensive guard position on the Dallas Dragons offensive line.
Landon Gardner went deep to Kenny Chen the first play of the drive on a post route, but was almost intercepted, but what followed built significant momentum for the Dallas offense.
Dawson Barcroft turned a fly sweep on the next play of the drive for the first down. Johnson picked up nine yards on the ground as Gardner found six-foot-five-inch Jack Anderson for about 15 yards to put the Dragons to the seven-yard line.
Johnson got the Dallas offense down to the one-yard line, and after running the clock down to 16 seconds left, called timeout.
“It was fun, but it was also nerve-racking because were up on the goalline five-yards away,” said Johnson. “Team is saying you’re going to get the ball and your going to score. Yes you want that so bad, but when you can’t get that, it’s a hard feeling.”
That’s when tragedy struck.
False start out of shear excitement of what was 36 inches in front of them pushed them back to the six. That was followed by Johnson being stopped at the line.
Then the dagger.
The back-shoulder fade that worked a few plays before, the Dragons went back to in the corner of the endzone to Anderson. Some asked if there was a slight push-off by the Corvallis defender in the process, but the Spartans came down with the interception with three seconds left in the game that sealed the 20-14 result in favor of Corvallis.
“I mean the interception was rough, but tomorrow we just need to get back to work and get back into the mix again,” said Johnson.
Some say Defense wins Championships, Defense wins Games and it showed Thursday night. The final 36-inches to tie or win the game are the hardest inches to get. That’s why in situations like this, it’s called the Longest Yard.
But it’s how you respond that shows the true colors of a team. With their next opponent, Crescent Valley, playing Friday and Dallas not playing until next Friday against the Raiders, the extra day could help the Dragons in turning this pain into fire further entering Week 5.
“Good things came out of this game, we’re just going to have to work on a couple of things and have it fuel the fire. We lost a close one, but we got to get back to it next week,” said Burton.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald