La Grande’s Tyson Wicklander, right, stiff arms a Weiser defender during the Tigers’ 27-25 victory Friday night at Community Stadium. (Casey Kellas/The Observer)
The La Grande football team ended a year-and-a-half of misery Friday night with a non-league win over Weiser, Idaho, 27-25 at Community Stadium.
The victory snaps a 12-game losing streak and is the first win for the Tigers since Oct. 21, 2011.
“It’s huge for us,” senior Tyson Wicklander said after intercepting three passes and catching two touchdowns. “This year we’re starting to get a lot of school spirit, and everyone is really starting to believe in us. This is a huge stepping stone.”
The win is also the first for head coach Kenny Mace.
“It’s a huge win and a big boost for our kids, especially going into league,” Mace said. “We needed something positive to build on before going into league. And beating a team (like Weiser) is a good way to do it.”
The Tigers also got a little bit of redemption with the victory, as LHS lost to Weiser 83-14 last season.
“We wanted this one more than anything,” quarterback Brandon Dall said. “Last year was one of the worst losses in La Grande football history. So, we had something to prove this game, and we did it.”
The win was anything but easy, but it was more than entertaining.
The Tigers and Wolverines traded blows in the first half, with La Grande grabbing an early 7-0 lead before falling behind 12-7 in the second quarter.
La Grande regained the lead on a Brandon Dall touchdown pass to Wicklander with 6:38 left in the first half. The missed extra point made it a 13-12 LHS lead.
But Weiser answered on the next drive and took the lead on a 35-yard touchdown pass from Ty Johnson to Thomas Crawford with 4:19 left in the first half.
The Wolverines took an 18-13 lead into the locker room at
“We asked them if they were having fun,” Mace said of the halftime talk. “They were having a blast. They believe. These last couple weeks, the biggest thing that’s changed is that they’ve bought into our program.”
That was evident in the second half.
On its second drive of the third quarter, Dall suffered a scary hit that shook him up and took him out of the game.
Wicklander took over at quarterback and helped the Tigers move the chains on a couple plays before Dall returned.
“I was a little dazed when I got up, but I was fine,” Dall said.
When Dall came back into the game, he rushed for a touchdown that was called back on a holding penalty. A couple plays later, Dall hooked up with Wicklander again to put the Tigers in front, 20-18.
“That felt, really, really good,” Dall said.
La Grande and Weiser traded turnovers throughout the fourth quarter before Jared Rogers broke off a 20-yard touchdown run with 2:33 remaining to stretch La Grande’s lead to 27-18.
The Wolverines were able to drive and score on a 10-yard touchdown pass to Andrew Williamson with 52 seconds left in regulation.
LHS was able to recover the onside kick and run the clock out to secure its first win in nearly two years.
Brandon Cedarholm finished with five catches for 88 yards for LHS.
Wicklander had four catches for 67 yards and two scores.
Dall completed 11-of-21 passes for 166 yards and three touchdowns.
He also carried the ball 23 times for 64 yards.
La Grande finished with 322 yards of offense, while Weiser had 345 yards for the game.
The Tigers will start Greater Oregon League play Friday at Baker at 7 p.m.