A pick-six early in the third quarter set the tone for the second half as Newport pulled away from Philomath Friday night at a rain-soaked Morrow Field, 26-3. It was the Oregon West Conference opener for both teams.
The Cubs led just 7-3 at halftime but took control in the second half behind key takeaways and timely plays on offense. The tone of the game changed when senior Austin Perry returned an interception 84 yards for a touchdown with 8:44 remaining in the third quarter. Newport added two more touchdowns later in the half — both after interceptions — and won its first game of the season.
Perry scored all four of Newport’s touchdowns — one on the interception and three on pass receptions.
“I felt like we came out in the third quarter and we were playing well,” PHS coach Tony Matta said. “We kicked off to them and forced them to punt and we were driving the football. We had the open receiver but didn’t get the ball out quick enough and Perry does a good job of closing from the safety spot. ... He made a great play.”
Newport scored early in this one after getting the ball in good field position to start the game. The Cubs recovered a loose ball on a game-opening pooch kick and drove downfield to the end zone. The Cubs scored on an 18-yard pass from Luke Losier to Perry and hit the extra-point kick for a 7-0 lead.
The Warriors had an opportunity to do something late in the first quarter. Senior Logan Hannigan-Downs pinned Newport back near its own end zone with a punt to the 5. The defense then pushed the Cubs back to force the home team to punt out of their own end zone.
On the punt, Newport hit a short one but the ball bounced off a Philomath player. The Warriors were able to fall on the ball, however, and set up the short field from the Newport 30.
The drive carried over into the second quarter and Philomath picked up a key first down on a pass from junior Michael Lundy to Hannigan-Downs. A few plays later, the Warriors got inside the 10 after a Newport pass interference penalty in the end zone.
But a couple of runs and an incomplete pass brought up fourth down and Philomath opted for the field goal. Hannigan-Downs split the uprights from 21 yards to cut the Newport lead to 7-3 with 9:03 left in the second quarter.
“We responded and moved the football the football really well in the first half,” Matta said. “We got into the red zone and stalled out and kicked the field goal.”
The Warriors held Newport on a three-and-out on the next possession. Philomath moved the ball quickly with senior Colby Roe breaking off a 23-yard run to advance near midfield. Later on fourth down, Philomath drew the Cubs off-sides to keep the drive alive with a first down to reach the Newport 38.
Roe’s running moved the chains again with a 13-yard run to the 19. But Philomath ended up turning the ball over on downs after coming very close to a touchdown. On fourth-and-11, Lundy threw into the northwest edge of the end zone and sophomore Carson Gerding caught the ball. But officials ruled that one of Gerding’s feet came down out of bounds first.
“It was one of the plays we added this week offensively that really was a great play at the time it was called,” Matta said. “We were hitting some quick short screens ... the DBs (defensive backs) fly up for that quick screen we’d been hitting and we run past them into the edge of the end zone and he catches it. I was thinking he’s in.”
Not scoring the touchdown was a tough pill to swallow.
“It was just one of those things. It was the second quarter and if that gets called a touchdown, we’re up 10-3 at the half,” Matta said.
In the third quarter, Newport’s Perry had his pick-six for a 14-3 Cubs lead. The score came on Philomath’s first possession of the second half.
The Warriors had a few opportunities with decent field position but could not capitalize. Late in the third, Newport came up with another interception with Losier getting a pick on a fourth-down pass.
On the ensuing drive, Newport scored on a 3-yard TD pass from Losier to Perry in the right flat on the first play of the fourth quarter. Philomath blocked the extra point but the hole deepened to 20-3.
The Warriors tried to get something going on their next possession but a penalty wiped out what would’ve been a large gain and then Newport came up with a third interception of the half. Taylor Bergey got the pick and appeared to have a return inside the PHS 10 but an illegal block brought the ball back. Still, Philomath’s offensive woes were continuing with another turnover.
Newport was soon in the end zone again on a 37-yard TD pass from Losier to Perry to pretty much put the lead out of reach at 26-3.
“We controlled the line of scrimmage for the most part,” Matta said. “We did a good job keeping the quarterback upright. We had a little concern because the Smith kid (Jayon Smith) is big at running back but we did a good job of containing him.”
Philomath finished with 151 total yards for the game while allowing 229, so not a ton of offense for either team. The Warriors did cut down on penalties.
Individually, Roe had 71 yards rushing on 16 attempts and caught three passes out of the backfield. Hannigan-Downs had five catches for 29 yards. Senior Dylan Bennett caught four balls for 23 yards.
Lundy completed 14 of 28 passes for 73 yards at quarterback and had to leave the game with an injury that Matta described as a pinched nerve in his neck. Sophomore Caleb Jensen finished out the game at QB.
Junior Isaiah Blackburn had 10-1/2 tackles on defense.
The Warriors (1-3 overall, 0-1 Oregon West) will try to regroup for homecoming on Friday against Sisters. The game is scheduled for a 7:30 p.m. start at Clemens Field.
Newport 26, Philomath 3
Friday at Newport
PHILOMATH (1-3, 0-1) 0 3 0 0 — 3
NEWPORT (1-3, 1-0) 7 0 7 12 — 26
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NHS: Austin Perry 18 pass from Luke Losier (Zethan Brandenberger kick), 8:51
PHS: FG Logan Hannigan-Downs 21, 9:03
NHS: Perry 84 interception return (Brandenberger kick), 8:44
NHS: Perry 3 pass from Losier (kick blocked), 11:55
NHS: Perry 37 pass from Losier (kick failed), 10:34
First Downs 12 13
Total Yards 151 229
Passing 73 91
Comp-Att-Int 14-33-3 11-19-0
Yards per pass 2.2 4.8
Rushing 78 138
Rushing attempts 28 36
Yards per rush 2.8 3.8
Penalties 5-25 11-85
Turnovers 4 2
Fumbles-lost 1 2
Interceptions thrown 3 0
Punts 4-41.3 6-27.8
RUSHING — Philomath, Colby Roe 16-71, Dylan Bennett 1-5, Michael Lundy 7-(-2). Newport, Jayon Smith 11-47, Luke Losier 7-33, Traxon Luckini 4-27, Austin Perry 8-18, Zethan Brandenberger 3-15, Cole Wiles 3-(-2).
PASSING — Philomath, Michael Lundy 14-28-3-73, Caleb Jensen 0-5-0-0. Newport, Luke Losier 11-19-0-91.
RECEIVING — Philomath, Logan Hannigan-Downs 5-29, Dylan Bennett 4-23, Colby Roe 3-11, Carson Gerding 2-10. Newport, Austin Perry 7-64, Zethan Brandenberger 2-9, Traxon Luckini 1-11, Jayon Smith 1-7.
Team notes: The JV team did not play Sept. 23. A game that had been scheduled against Elmira was canceled. In a change from the JV schedule, the Warriors will play Newport at 6:30 p.m. at Toledo High School. The game will not be played at Clemens Field because of a track resurfacing project.