By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– It was one of those match-ups that you would love to see as a pre-season game in a normal year let-lone during a short-season like the one West Salem and Silverton has found themselves in this Spring.
Perennial playoff teams in 5A and 6A. The Titans reached the 6A second-round and the Foxes reached the 5A State Semi-Final round meeting each other at West Salem. But it wasn’t until late in the first half where things began to get interesting in the Titans 24-14 victory on this Saturday evening on the Hill.
In a matter of fact, West Salem looked as if they were going to run-off with the victory. Jumping out to a quick 21-0 lead on Silverton.
Defense had forced the flow of the Foxes offense down to a trickle at best while the Titans offense raged on. Touchdowns from Nate Garcia (eight-yard run) and two short touchdown runs by Jackson Lowery of the one-, two-yard variety had West Salem leading Silverton by that 21-0 margin with 2:46 left in the first half.
“It’s great, we’ve watched film so we knew what to expect. I think we were all really excited that we were able to play. We were ready,” said the Titans Jack Bennett. “We’re ready for next week and just preparing. I know it was a bat-out-hell, we were ready to play this week.”
“We can learn a lot from our mistakes, we’ve had a lot of offsides penalties, false-starts and all of that. So it was a little interesting to get used to, it’s been over a year so it’s new to us so we have to get back into it,” adds the Foxes Kyle Kramer. “The small mistakes we can fix in practice.”
Jordan McCarty got Silverton on the board before the halftime break with a six-yard scramble. 21-7 at the halftime break looked better than 21-0.
And it seemed as if that drive was the thing that gave the Foxes that jolt of adrenaline. That extra shot of caffeine in essence as they held West Salem to a Cooper Johnson Field Goal in the fourth quarter.
The Silverton offense had to turn to David Russell mid-way of the third quarter with McCarty out with a hip pointer who had led a drive that pulled the Foxes to within a score of West Salem going into the fourth. 21-14 was the score following Russell scoring from four-yards out with 32 seconds left in the third quarter.
“We were down 21-0/21-7. Our guys, we can’t get low. We gotta keep going,” Russell said, stepping in. “For me, it’s super important because they believe in me coming in as a back-up, I may be less confident but they believed in me. That really helped me raise my potential there..”
The Silverton defense held the Titans to their lone points of the half with a 25-yard field goal with 10:11 left in the game that made it 24-14. Russell and the Foxes offense began marching.
The only thing that inhibited the Silverton offense were two offsides penalties back-to-back that pinned them deep. West Salem, looking to finish it off, did. Getting a big fourth-down stop to get the ball back.
“It’s a devastating moment, but we rallied after it. Things didn’t go our way, that’s going to happen. We’re going to get better for next week,” Russell said, who went 3-for-5 with 22 yards and a rush for four yards.
The Titans milked the final 6:47 off the clock by running the ball. Garcia picked up the bulk of the carries on the final drive as the senior finished with 115 yards on 24 carries.
“The guys up front won it for us at the end of the game at the line of scrimmage,” Garcia said. “It was awesome. It was awesome, I’m happy we finally got to play.”
McCarty, who was being pressured for much of the game, had 47 yards on the ground while going 4-for-11 passing for Silverton. Tyler Pfeifer had 44 yards rushing and Vandon Fessler had three receptions for 38 yards.
Zachary Dodson-Green had four receptions for 35 yards and Jerron Love had three receptions for 48 yards. Lowery was 8-for-16 for 88 yards and had 11 carries for 20 yards with his two rushing touchdowns.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald