By Jeremy McDonald
MCMINNVILLE, Ore.– For a brief moment it looked as if we were going to get another instant classic edition of the Silverton-West Albany rivalry in the 5A State Semifinals Friday night at McMinnville High School.
With a scoreless stalemate going into the second quarter the Foxes, who went on to win 44-14 in this meeting, and the Bulldogs traded defensive stands. The feeling was as if it was going to be similar to their 28-21 game they both played just a month ago in Silverton.
“We were just waiting for that moment and we just took advantage of it and we just kept going. We took the momentum and put it on their throats,” said the Foxes’ Austin Ratliff.
Silverton struck first, jumping out to a 10-0 by the 6:54 mark of the second frame. It was thanks to a 20-yard Benjamin Roythrone field goal and a Jordan McCarty-Ratliff passing touchdown, the first of three between the two seniors in the contest.
“We’ve been playing since forever and it was good to get the connection going a couple times. The line blocked great for us,” McCarty said. “We were pretty confident with what we had going. We just kept at it and I think everyone trusted in each other, I trusted the line, they always come through. Of course, our guys out wide, they always come through.”
McCarty threw for 272 yards and three touchdowns as both the Foxes and the Bulldogs went to the aerial attack in this game.
West Albany’s Michael Cane went 16-for-34 for 172 yards and the first of two passing touchdowns drew the Bulldogs to within seven of Silverton. Connecting with DeMarcus Houston, placing the ball in the right spot for Houston to make the grab with 3:11 left until halftime.
But all weren’t as easy as it seemed as McCarty found Ratliff again moments later and quickly turned a stop into a Bolan Meyer block and score to take a 24-7 halftime lead on the Bulldogs. Preparedness was key and sticking to how they’ve been playing all year was as crucial as their execution.
“We wanted to play the way we’ve been playing all season against them and not make things any different,” said Vandon Fessler, who had two interceptions in the game. “We knew they were going to take shots at us, that could’ve been the difference in the game if they kept making good shots on us. I’m glad we were prepared.”
They continued to add to their lead with McCarty’s third connection with Ratliff, a short scoring run by McCarty and a pick-six by Fessler that had put the Foxes ahead 44-7 with 11:48 remaining in the game. Sending Silverton to their first State Title appearance since 2014 as they’ll face Thurston.
“We just got to take advantage of every moment. We’re so dialed in right now; we’re taking no days off. Our defense right now I feel like it’s one of the best in the state,” Ratliff said.
Ratliff had eight total tackles to go with six receptions for 172 yards and three touchdowns. McCarty collected an interception at cornerback to go with his passing numbers as the Foxes defense allowed just their third double-digit game defensively in 12 games played.