La Grande’s Ray Jimenez tries to break free of a tackle against Fruitland Friday. (Paul Harder/The Observer)
Someone should have tried to pinch La Grande head coach Kenny Mace, because the home opener turned out to be a nightmare.
The Tigers buried themselves in a 31-0 first-quarter hole, and went on to lose 57-6 in front of the crowd at Community Stadium.
“I’m pretty disappointed,” Mace said. “It’s not the team that we saw last week. We didn’t play very physical and the team put Fruitland up on a pedestal. Not to take anything away from them, they played hard and right. There were a lot of plays to be made on the field and our kids were afraid to make them.”
Things broke down in the special teams game early on during three straight punt attempts, setting the table for Fruitland to score.
Two straight snaps went over the La Grande punter’s’ head. One went into the endzone for a safety. The other set Fruitland up inside the 10 yard line.
The third punt in the sequence was blocked, and again put the Grizzlies knocking on the door inside the 10 yard line.
The Grizzlies imposed their will on the offensive side of the ball, rushing for 352 yards on 40 attempts in the game.
Chase Fiddler put together a full day’s work in two quarters. He ran for 156 yards with 12 attempts and three touchdowns.
“You can’t let that happen,” Mace said. “I thought we made things as simple as possible for the kids to know their assignments. It’s back to square one for next week’s practices.”
Offensively, for La Grande, it was one step forward, two steps back all night long.
It didn’t matter if it was the running or passing game, nothing was consistent due to the pressure from
Quarterback Brandon Dall, the spearhead of the spread-option attack, struggled to find the option.
He finished with minus 19 yards rushing on 17 attempts.
He completed 5-of-18 pass attempts for 68 yards with two interceptions.
“We didn’t help him out much,” Mace said. “But he also needed to make quicker decisions. They are playmakers on the outside and they need to make plays. We have some youth out there, but we need to be able to make plays.”
Ray Jimenez made the biggest play of the game, a 36-yard run to set up the lone score of the game.
He broke a run to the sideline, setting up Dall’s 1-yard run with 2:07 left in the third quarter.
But, that was the final score put on the board by both teams.