Blowouts have been the name of the game in 2018 for both the Joseph Eagles and South Wasco County Redsides football teams.
Entering Friday night’s Special District 5 showdown in Joseph, the teams were a combined 9-0 and had outscored their opponents a whopping 589-39.
Something had to give, and in a game that did turn into a defensive battle, the Eagles mustered enough offense to come away with a 27-16 victory in six-man action Friday.
“We went in thinking it was going to be tough, and (South Wasco went) toe to toe with us,” Joseph Head Coach Duncan Christman said. “All credit to South Wasco for having a great team.”
Joseph’s closest games entering Friday were two 60-point victories, and for a moment it appeared the high-flying Eagles may be on their way to another rout. Kade Kilgore threw an 11-yard touchdown to T.J. Grote on Joseph’s first drive for an early 8-0 lead, and Kilgore followed by grabbing an interception and weaving his way through the players for a 65-yard touchdown and a 15-0 lead with 3:13 left in the first quarter.
“That was a big part of (getting the win),” Christman said of Kilgore’s pick-six. “He’s been trying to get that all season. He finally got one to take home.”
The Redsides, though, settled in on defense, and early in the second quarter accomplished a feat nobody had done yet this season — score a touchdown on Joseph. Bobby Kately punched in a three-yard run at the 8:15 mark to close the gap to 15-8.
Joseph, though, gained some breathing room in the second half. Tyler Homan bolted 45 yards for a touchdown on the second play of the third quarter to make the score 21-8, and Juston Rodgers scored early in the fourth from a yard out for a 27-8 lead with just 9:13 left.
The Redsides closed within 11 points on Garrett Olson’s 11-yard touchdown pass to Nicolas Brunson with 4:07 to play and threatened to draw closer late, but the Eagles’ defense stepped up to keep SWC from finding the end zone again.
The Eagles’ defense limited South Wasco to 265 yards of offense and forced four turnovers, including recovering three fumbles.
“It was a good game all the way around,” Kilgore, said. “It really took defense. I wasn’t throwing too good at the start. Defense picked it up for me, and the defense set the tone.”
Kilgore credited the Eagles’ coaching staff for preparing the team for what would be the team’s first tough contest of 2018.
“They set us up to win, for sure,” he said. “All week they said this is going to be a battle all the way around. They said, ‘positivity, aggressiveness, and play Eagle football.’ We did.”
Homan and Rodgers did the lion’s share of the work on offense for Joseph. Homan finished with 143 yards rushing and Rodgers added 87, while the rest of the team had minus-9 yards against the Redsides’ defense. Kilgore was 3-for-10 passing for 39 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions.
Olson finished with 101 yards passing and 59 yards rushing for SWC, while Kately had 70 yards on the ground.
Joseph (5-0 overall, 5-0 SD5) will square off against another stout SD5 opponent Friday when it hosts Harper, the only other undefeated six-man team remaining in the state. Harper (6-0, 6-0) has outscored its opposition 309-38, while Joseph will enter that contest with a 313-18 scoring margin.