September 21, 2001 11:00 pm

By C.J. Gish

Observer Staff Writer

IMBLER In a battle of unbeatens, neither Imbler nor Joseph wanted to be the first team with a loss Friday.

The two teams fought it out through not only regulation, but four overtime periods before Imbler came away with a 26-20 Wapiti League football win.

Steven Skillings fooled Josephs defense in the fourth overtime when he outraced everyone on a misdirection play for a 7-yard touchdown.

Joseph nearly tied it on the next possession when Marcus Wells took a quarterback keeper to the Imbler 2-yard line, but a clipping penalty sent the Eagles back to the 21. On the next play, a wide-open Randall Eschler dropped a pass in the back of the end zone, followed by a fourth-down pass into triple coverage that was broken up.

That was too long, Imbler coach Lee Lowe said. (Joseph) had a chance to stay in there when we blew that coverage (on Eschler). Lady luck was on our side. It was a great win for us.

The kids kept hanging in there. We needed four hard quarters of football, but we didnt need eight.

That was a good one, Joseph coach Rusty Eschler said. I honestly believe this is the second-best team in the league, and Ive seen them all.

Now we have to rebound and come back. We have Nyssa next Friday, and theyre the best team Ive seen.

Joseph (1-1 overall, 0-1 league), featuring a spread formation, got on the board first when Eschler grabbed a 29-yard pass from Wells in the first quarter.

The lead lasted until midway through the second quarter when Imblers Trevor Crow rolled out and found Troy Hoskins wide open for a 31-yard touchdown.

With 1:48 left in the half, Tyson Hoskins burst loose on a 37-yard run down the left sideline for a score and a 14-6 Imbler halftime lead.

Joseph took the opening kickoff in the second half and marched 76 yards. Wells scored on a 30-yard quarterback keeper on fourth-and-2 following a holding penalty on a Joseph punt that kept the drive alive.

In overtime, both teams were given two opportunities to score from the oppositions 25, but neither got close.

From there, the ball was moved to the 10, where Joseph scored on a Wells 1-yard quarterback sneak to go ahead 20-14.

Imbler (3-0, 1-0) answered from Josephs 10 when Troy Hoskins caught a 15-yard pass from Crow to tie the game 20-all.

Tyson Hoskins rushed for a game-high 162 yards. Troy Hoskins had three catches for 61 yards.

Wells led Joseph with 85 yards on the ground and 110 passing.

Imbler travels to Union, and Joseph hosts Nyssa Friday.

Union overcomes errors to beat Enterprise

ENTERPRISE Enterprise started and finished strong, but in between it was Unions football game.

The Bobcats were able to edge past hosting Enterprise Friday, 28-26, to win their Wapiti League opener.

On paper, it looked like Enterprise (0-3 overall, 0-1 league) had the advantage, outgaining Union 360 yards to 235 in offense, but mistakes killed it.

Union fumbled twice and we fumbled four times and threw one interception, Enterprise coach Randy Morgan said.

Tim Gilbert caught a 24-yard pass from James Huffman, and Kyle Crawford added a 13-yard run to put Enterprise ahead 14-0 in the first quarter.

The second quarter was all Union, though. The Bobcat defense recovered two fumbles to set the stage for Mike Maleys 16-yard touchdown catch from Lucas Maples. Shae Prince added a 5-yard scoring run for a 14-all halftime tie.

In the third quarter, Union (3-1, 1-0) used two big scoring runs a Prince 48-yarder and a Derek Kirby 57-yarder to gain a 28-14 lead.

Grady Rawls responded in the third with an 18-yard touchdown reception, but Crawfords extra-point kick missed its mark.

Enterprise scored again in the fourth quarter on a Crawford 21-yard catch, but it was forced to go for the two-point conversion to tie the game and the run came up short.

We improved tremendously from last week, Morgan said. I was proud of our defense. Other than the two long runs, we held them to nearly no yards.

Prince paced Union with 82 rushing yards. Kirby added 73 and C.W. Dunbar had 54.

Crawford ran for a game-high 137 yards. Isaac Gerner had 92. Huffman passed for a season-high 91 yards.

Next Friday, Union hosts Imbler and Enterprise is at Pine Eagle in Halfway.

Elgin gives Bulldogs fight, but not enough

NYSSA In a football game that was supposed to be over by the first half, Elgin gave Nyssa all it could handle Friday.

The outmanned Huskies traveled to Nyssa and trailed 7-6 at the half and 14-6 entering the fourth quarter before the bigger Bulldogs wore them down for a 29-6 Wapiti League win.

We missed too many opportunities early and it kind of accumulated on us, Elgin coach Ed Schumacher said.

Twice Elgin (0-4 overall, 0-1 league) got inside Nyssas 5-yard line, only to come away empty-handed. Once, the Huskies made it to the 1 when the receiver was stripped of the ball and it was recovered by Nyssa for a touchback.

On the flip side, Elgins defense held Nyssa scoreless twice from inside the Husky 5 in the first half.

Charlie Schumacher put Elgin on the board first with a 2-yard touchdown reception from Blake Eckstein. Eckstein completed 15 of his first 23 passes, but struggled in the second half.

Eckstein ended the game completing 15-of-30 passes for 184 yards, but he was intercepted four times.

The bigger Nyssa squad used its ground attack to pick up 297 yards rushing. Elgin was held to 14 yards on the ground.

Nyssa scored two touchdowns and on a 25-yard field goal in the final quarter.

Elgin has a bye next week.

Powder Valley makes easy work of Wallowa

WALLOWA Anyone expecting a shootout in Wallowa between the Cougars and the Powder Valley Badgers saw a one-sided romp.

Powder Valley improved to 4-0 with its 54-22 non-league, eight-man football victory.

I think we surprised them a little bit with how physical we were, Powder Valley coach Alan Stanfield said.

Brody Turner scored four touchdowns and Todd Baxter threw five touchdown passes for the Badgers, who racked up 535 yards total offense.

They out-aggressived us, Wallowa coach Mitch Frye said. They total flat-out wanted it more than we did.

Casey Smergut scored twice for Wallowa (2-1), including a fourth-quarter touchdown that came against the Badgers JV squad.