TIGERS HANG ON LATE TO BEAT MAC-HI
By Raenelle Kwock
Observer Staff Writer
The Greater Oregon League opener for McLoughlin and La Grande was sloppy for both teams Friday.
Both teams combined for eight turnovers, but the Tigers prevailed 20-12 over the Pioneers.
"Bitter-sweet," La Grande coach Shea Little said about his first win as coach for the Tigers. The Tigers (1-2 overall, 1-0 in Greater Oregon League) committed five turnovers.
"We still need to work on execution," Little said.
Little said the intensity was lacking, but the kids battled to the end.
He said the defense and offense did play well.
It looked as if, despite all their problems, the Tigers sealed the game in the fourth quarter by leaping out to a 20-6 lead.
On second-and-eight, Cale Flesher caught a 27-yard pass from Mitch McKinney over the middle and sprinted into the end zone. A penalty on the two-point conversion pushed the Tigers back, but Sean Crow ran it in to put the Tigers ahead by two touchdowns.
However, the Pioneers weren't dead yet. Mac-Hi recovered the fifth Tiger turnover when a punt return was dropped deep in La Grande territory with 5:02 left in the game.
With 3:22 left, the Pioneers ran in from five yards out on fourth down to slice the lead to 20-12.
The Tigers were forced to punt on their next possession, and the Pioneers had one more chance to mount a scoring drive with 1:10 left in the game.
The Tiger defense came up with a big stand to save the game. Shaun Cederholm batted down the ball at the line of scrimmage to force a second-and-10 from the La Grande 40 with a minute left.
Mac-Hi's Trent Hetterley ran around the right hand side and fell two yards short of a first down with 56 seconds left.
On third-and-two, Hetterley was given the ball again and ran to his left but was stopped one yard short with 30 seconds left.
With 20 seconds left, Hetterley was run out of bounds on a fourth-and-one giving the Tigers a turnover on downs and the win.
Jesse Myer scored the first Tiger touchdown on a 34-yard burst in the first quarter.
The Pioneers tied the game in the second quarter in which neither team could hold onto the football very long.
The Tigers had two fumbles and an interception, while the Pioneers had an interception.
Alan Eugenio's 8-yard touchdown put the Tigers ahead 12-6 in the third quarter.
The Tigers travel to Middleton, Idaho, for a non-league game Friday.