ELMIRA — On a much-needed 62-yard march to the end zone during the second quarter Friday night, Philomath lined up against the opponent and powered forward with a display of tough running that head coach Tony Matta loves to see.
Take a first-down run up the middle by Philomath’s Dakota Kantor. The 6-foot-3, 210-pound senior appeared to be stopped by Elmira’s defense for a yard, maybe two at the most. But the pile kept moving as Kantor and his teammates drove forward until they heard a whistle.
Three plays later on fourth-and-one, senior quarterback Calvin Snuggerud took the snap and powered forward for a four-yard gain to move the chains. The drive ended with junior running back Colby Roe standing in the end zone after a 5-yard run.
After a pass attempt fell incomplete on the first play of the possession, Philomath called 12 straight running plays.
“It’s about reasserting the line of scrimmage there and I thought we did a good job with that,” Matta said. “I thought physically, we came on in the second quarter and really started to do what we do. We got a little bit away from that trying to get guys out of the box and I’m going to guess, it wasn’t the typical run night for us, but we still ran the ball a ton and that’s what we have to do.”
Elmira came back with a touchdown in the second half and ended up holding on to an 18-6 victory. The Falcons are off to a 3-0 start this season with earlier victories over Siuslaw (74-6) and North Valley (31-28).
“That’s a good football team but you know, we’re a good football team,” Matta replied when asked what he told his players after the loss. “I expect them to play in November, but I expect us to play in November as well. It was hard-nosed … that was tough.”
Philomath trailed 12-0 when it put together its touchdown drive in the second quarter, a possession that took 6 minutes, 40 seconds of clock time. The drive started with a couple of penalties — one for 10 yards on the punt return and another for five yards on the first play.
Following a pass incompletion, Roe took a handoff on second-and-15 and rambled 19 yards for a first down. The rest of the drive featured Roe, Kantor and Snuggerud picking up positive yards. With an extra point kick by Snuggerud following the TD, the Warriors had cut the Elmira lead to 12-7 with 1:52 remaining in the half.
And then things got really interesting. Elmira fumbled the kickoff return and Philomath’s Brooks Stearns fell on the ball to give the Warriors the ball at the 29-yard line. On the first play, the Falcons were flagged for pass interference and Philomath had the ball at the 14-yard line with plenty of time to make something happen.
But four straight running plays couldn’t move the chains and Elmira took over on downs as the half ended.
“If we get the touchdown there going into half on fourth down, it’s a different game,” Matta said. “That’s a team averaging, what 50 points a game, in an 18-7 game. I’m proud of the effort that we gave out there.”
Philomath rushed for 167 yards as a team with Roe picking up 93 and Kantor finishing with 71. The offensive production statistics were fairly close, but the Warriors did struggle with penalties and turnovers coming at the wrong time.
“We’ve got some things to clean up, absolutely,” Matta said. “The good thing is those are things we can fix. It’s not like we were outmanned and we weren’t in that football game so, despite the mistakes, we’re still right there.”
Elmira’s offense hummed with the play of senior quarterback Cobyn Herbert, the catch-and-run quickness of senior Rowdy Ramirez and the running of senior Brady Nagel.
“I thought we did a pretty good job of getting some pressure on him early on and he’s a good quarterback,” Matta said of Herbert. “On 42 (Nagel), we just needed to break down, settle down and make tackles. He’s going to get three or four, but we can’t let him get 10 or 12.”
Elmira executed on two third-and-long plays to score on its first two possessions of the ballgame. First, the Falcons scored on a 21-yard touchdown pass from Herbert to sophomore Bryson Forsman on a third-and-21. The Falcons then went up 12-0 on a pass from Herbert to Ramirez on a 19-yard reception that came on a third-and-11.
In the second half, Elmira took the opening kickoff and drove 75 yards in just four plays with Herbert connecting again on a TD pass to Forsman, this one covering 12 yards. A 32-yard pass from Herbert to sophomore Ayden Wolgamott was a key play on the drive but Philomath was also flagged on two straight plays for facemask violations. A personal foul flag flew on the touchdown, a 15-yarder that was assessed on the ensuing kickoff.
On the next drive for Philomath, the Warriors fumbled the ball away on the second play on what many believed was a forward pass with the quarterback’s arm in motion when he was hit. But officials saw it differently and Elmira took over.
The Warriors struggled with penalties and turnovers the rest of the half, but Matta gives the Falcons credit for stopping his offense.
“They did a good job defensively in really bottling us up and sending a lot of bodies, so we’ve got to figure that part out,” Matta said.
Philomath, which falls to 2-1 on the season, gets into conference play Friday with a home game against Newport. The school plans to rededicate Clemens Field with a special halftime presentation that will recognize those who contributed to this past summer's grandstands renovation project.
Elmira 18, Philomath 7
Friday at Elmira
PHILOMATH (2-1) 0 7 0 0 — 7
ELMIRA (3-0) 12 0 6 0 — 18
ELM: Bryson Forsman 21 pass from Cobyn Herbert (kick failed), 6:47
ELM: Rowdy Ramirez 19 pass from Cobyn Herbert (pass failed), 3:07
PHS: Colby Roe 5 run (Calvin Snuggerud kick), 1:52
ELM: Bryson Forsman 12 pass from Cobyn Herbert (pass failed), 10:52
First downs 14 13
Total net yards 216 260
Rushes-yards 44-167 22-46
Passing yards 49 214
Punt returns 1-1 3-14
Kickoff returns 3-41 2-8
Interceptions ret. 0-0 1-2
Comp-Att-Int 5-14-1 12-23-0
Sacked-yards lost 2-18 1-4
Punts 4-35.0 3-37.3
Fumbles-lost 3-2 3-2
Penalties-yards 12-102 9-65
Time of possession 29:32 18:28
RUSHING — Philomath, Colby Roe 25-93, Dakota Kantor 10-71, Calvin Snuggerud 9-3. Elmira, Brady Nagel 11-51, Ryan Imel 4-12, Cobyn Herbert 6-(-4), Bryce Sawyer 1-(-13).
PASSING — Philomath, Calvin Snuggerud 4-13-1-30, Michael Lundy 1-1-0-19. Elmira, Cobyn Herbert 12-23-0-214.
RECEIVING — Philomath, Brooks Stearns 2-26, Jeremy Alston 2-19, Colby Roe 1-4. Elmira, Rowdy Ramirez 6-124, Bryson Forsman 2-33, Ayden Wolgamott 1-32, Gavin Parker 1-15, Brady Nagel 1-13, Ryan Imel 1-(-3).
Philomath 32, Siuslaw 12
Sept. 5 at Philomath
SIUSLAW 0 6 0 6 — 12
PHILOMATH 6 0 20 6 — 32
Team notes: Philomath’s JV improved to 2-0 with a win in its first home game. … The Warriors broke open the game in the third quarter with three touchdowns and a safety. … Philomath went up 6-0 in the first quarter on a 4-yard run by Jacob Williams. … Siuslaw tied the score on a long TD pass in the second. … In the third, Caleb Jensen scored on a 15-yard TD run on a bootleg. … Siuslaw then snapped the ball over the quarterback and into the end zone for a PHS safety. … Matt Workman followed with a 7-yard TD run to give the Warriors a 20-6 lead. … With 52 seconds left in the third, Jensen picked off a pass and ran 40 yards to the end zone for a pick-6. … In the fourth, Workman scored on a 3-yard run for a 32-6 lead. … Siuslaw scored the final touchdown. … Coach Aaron Schermerhorn said Connar Kohn played well on defense along with Joe Choi and Josiah Gunn, and that Austin Murphree was an offensive standout at center. … The JV Warriors are scheduled to play at 5:30 p.m. Monday at home against Elmira.