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PANTHER ON THE PROWL: Imbler's John Bartell (28) rambled for 164 yards and three touchdowns Friday against Union. (The Observer/PIERRE LaBOSSIRE).
PANTHER ON THE PROWL: Imbler's John Bartell (28) rambled for 164 yards and three touchdowns Friday against Union. (The Observer/PIERRE LaBOSSIRE).

By Pierre LaBossire

Observer Staff Writer

MILTON-FREEWATER — An explosive play by Jesse Myer might not only have saved the La Grande Tigers' game against Mac-Hi Friday, it may have saved their season as well.

The Tigers football squad, looking for its first win of the year, stumbled badly out of the gate against Mac-Hi. The nadir of the game for the Tigers came early in the second quarter when Mac-Hi quarterback Cameron Knight hit Trent Hetterley with a 73-yard pass play to open up a commanding 20-0 lead.

That's when Myer took the ensuing kick-off and ran it right back for a 90-yard touchdown.

Myer's big play was the beginning of an amazing second quarter as the Tigers came roaring back out of the huge hole they dug for themselves. They forced two turnovers and scored 28 unanswered points before the half on their way to a 35-20 Greater Oregon League opening win.

Myers and Mitch McKinney each scored two touchdowns.

"Mac-Hi had all the momentum up to that point," Coach Randy Waite said. "(Myer's) return really sparked us."

Waite said that after the Tigers' tough non-league losses against Hermiston and Pendleton, this was a win the team needed.

"We had to get off 1-0 in league. It might've been a long season if we hadn't," he said.

Waite said that maybe the pressure the kids felt to win their league opener caused the Tigers to come out flat in the first quarter against Mac-Hi.

Whatever the reason, Waite said La Grande simply dominated the game on offense and defense after Myers' big runback. Mac-Hi never got close to the end zone again after that play, as the Tigers' defense never let them drive past the 30-yard line.

Meanwhile, the Tigers erupted for four TDs in only 11 1/2 minutes. Two minutes after Myers' big run, McKinney scored a TD on a 15-yard run, then Myer added his second touchdown with a 13-yard run three minutes after that as La Grande took a 21-20 lead.

Finally, after Tyler Reddington recovered a Mac-Hi fumble with 1:49 left in the half, the Tigers scored on the last play of the second quarter on a 2-yard pass from Kyle Bomberger to McKinney as the Tigers took a 28-20 lead into the half.

The Tigers added a final touchdown late in the fourth quarter to salt the game away for good on a 26-yard pass from Bomberger to Tyson Stebbins.

Bomberger had an excellent game, throwing for 185 yards on 16-26 passing. Stebbins caught eight of his passes for 126 yards.

La Grande plays Middleton (Idaho) at home at 7 p.m. next Friday in a non-league dust-up.

La Grande 0 28 0 7 — 35

Mac-Hi 12 8 0 0 — 20

Mac Hi — Gregerson 19 run (point after failed)

Mac Hi — Hetterley 18 run (point after failed)

Mac Hi — Hetterley 73 pass from Knight (point after good)

La G — Myer 90 kickoff return (kick good)

La G — McKinney 15 run (kick good)

La G — Myer 13 run (kick good)

La G — McKinney 2 pass from Bomberger (kick good)

La G — Stebbins 26 pass from Bomberger (kick good)

Individual statistics

RUSHING — La Grande, Carson 8-50, Myer 10-49, McKinney 8-27, Bomberger 12-8, Eugenio 1-3, Stebbins 2-(minus 1), Parker 1-(minus 1). Mac-Hi, Gregerson 22-69, Hetterley 7-43, Hahn 6-41, Dixson 1-4, Knight 3-(minus 3), Brown 2-(minus 1).

PASSING — La Grande, Bomberger 16-26-1-185. Mac-Hi, Knight, 6-16-1-135.

RECEIVING — La Grande, Stebbins 8-126, Reddington 4-36, Myer 1-11, McKinney 2-6, Cederholm 1-6. Mac-Hi, Hetterley 2-82, Hahn 1-17, Griffin 1-17, Ely 1-11, Strickland 1-5.

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