The defense stood tall despite being saddled with numerous short fields in the first half.
But the offense couldn’t take advantage of its opportunities and wasn’t quite prepared for the constant blitzes from the opponent and could never get on track.
North Marion kept Philomath off-balance throughout Friday’s homecoming football game at Clemens Field. The visiting Huskies took some of the spark out of the celebration, collecting a 20-0 victory to keep Philomath winless in Oregon West Conference play.
The Warriors (1-5, 0-3) managed just 87 total yards, while the Huskies (3-3, 3-0) controlled the ground game with 271 of their own.
In the first two quarters, North Marion started five drives at the Philomath 43 or closer and another at its own 43. But the halftime score was just 6-0, Huskies.
“First half, they had some great field position and our defense was able to hold them to six points,” Warriors coach Rob Shader said. “I was really proud of our defense.”
Kenan Conner, Philomath’s quarterback and also a cornerback, said the first-half play of the defense was certainly a positive.
“We just need to do that going into the next game,” he said. “Our defense has been really solid in the first half and we’re doing a good job of having intensity on that side of the ball.”
In a penalty-filled game for both teams, North Marion ran some defensive schemes that were different than what it had showed in past games.
The Huskies’ blitzes caught the Warriors off-guard. Conner said finding the holes in the North Marion defense was difficult.
He credited his offensive line for doing a good job. There were just too many defenders to slow down.
“It’s hard to have plays for one specific defense and then they come out with a different defense,” he said. “They blitz all of them and we only have a few guys back there to block for me. So when we have four guys coming at me and two guys to block for me, it kind of goes downhill sometimes.”
Offensive progress was hard to come by as the Warriors got only as far as their own 40-yard line twice in the first half.
The first time came on the opening possession, and they turned the ball over on downs after a failed fourth-down run. The Huskies scored four plays later on a Brandon Weaver 4-yard run.
Philomath’s next drive reached the Warriors’ 40 after one play, but a fumble gave the ball back to the visitors.
North Marion drove 65 yards to score its third-quarter touchdown. Sam Garcia found the end zone on a 36-yard run.
The Warriors had their best starting field position of the game with a fourth-quarter drive starting at the Huskies' 47.
But a Conner pass was picked off by Beau Wilson and returned 48 yards to the Philomath 4. Weaver scored on a run on the next play.
Later in the period, Cody Chambers got behind the North Marion defense but dropped a pass that could have resulted in a touchdown.
Conner completed 7 of 23 passes for 53 yards with three interceptions, two in the second half. Brooks Stearns was his top receiver with five catches for 37 yards.
Tony Rath was the Warriors’ leading rusher with 17 yards on five attempts.
Had a few last-minute plays gone the other way for the Warriors the past few weeks, they could have also entered Friday’s game undefeated in Oregon West play.
But Philomath fell 30-28 at home to Stayton and 29-28 in overtime at Newport.
“We’re getting a little bit better each week,” Shader said. “We knew this was going to be a good team that’s having a great season. I think every week we’re making small strides.”