SILVERTON — It was another instant classic between Lebanon and Silverton that played out at McGinnis Field.
The last two matchups between the two were decided by one point, with the visitors celebrating both years. This time, the margin was the same and it was the home team finally enjoying a victory.
Grant Buchheit’s 11-yard touchdown reception from backup quarterback Aaron Rieskamp tied it and a Benjamin Willis point-after try with 37.5 seconds left gave Silverton a 37-36 Mid-Willamette Conference football win.
Lebanon got as far as the Silverton 48 in the closing seconds before Warriors quarterback Colton Shepard gave up his third interception of the second half.
In a one-point game, it really was a play here or there that decides it.
“It goes that way. I told my kids to be proud. If we make one play. It comes down to if we make one play the game comes out for us,” Warriors coach Ty Tomlin said. “Silverton’s on the other end and you have to give them credit. Their kids found a way to make some really good plays on the last drive to get it in the end zone.”
It was considered the 5A game of the night, with both teams in the top five of this week’s coaches poll. It didn’t disappoint.
Silverton (3-0, 3-0 MWC) cut into Lebanon’s 22-14 halftime lead with a touchdown on its opening drive.
Nathaniel Gubbels caught a 29-yard touchdown on a floating pass from Levi Nielsen that was up for grabs down the middle. The Foxes lost Nielsen on the play to an apparent knee injury, and the ensuing PAT made it a one-point contest.
Silverton recovered an onside kick and got a 27-yard field goal to lead 24-22.
Two possessions later, the Warriors (2-1, 2-1) went back in front on Landon Kisling’s 6-yard touchdown run that was set up by a Chase Miller 39-yard run. The PAT was no good and Lebanon led by four.
An interception by Isaac Magana set up Silverton’s next score. Hayden Roth, the Foxes’ workhorse back, capped it with a 9-yard touchdown run with 8:49 remaining. The kick failed, to keep the home team’s lead at two.
Lebanon punted on its ensuing drive but got a defensive stop. Kisling returned the punt 54 yards to the Silverton 9.
Keith Brown scored two plays later on a 3-yard run. The Warriors had to make its two-point attempt twice due to a penalty. But the second time worked as good as the first with Shepard hitting Eddy Kennedy running across the middle to give the visitors a 36-30 advantage with 4:26 left.
But Silverton put together the drive of the game when it needed it.
The Foxes converted three third downs on their 65-yard possession.
Buchheit caught a Rieskamp third-down toss for 15 yards that moved the ball to the Lebanon 42. Riley Kramer later took a toss 12 yards to the 28.
Roth ran twice for 17 yards to the 11 before Rieskamp found Buchheit in the front corner of the end zone for the game-winner.
“I know we could have fixed it, we could have done it all good,” Kisling said. “But we had mental mistakes because it was such a tight game. We were grinding but it was just the little things we messed up on.”
Shepard passed for 151 yards, including 114 before halftime. Raymond Knuth had three catches for 90 yards in the first two quarters.
Miller had a big first half for the Warriors. He ran for a touchdown, caught another and also hauled in an interception.
He rushed for a team-high 62 yards. Shepard ran for 54 and Kisling 46.
Tomlin saw his team respond in what turned into a boxing match between two heavy hitters.
“Adversity is what’s going to happen in every game, and great teams respond to that,” the coach said. “We found a way to come back and punch back. They got the last one and we ran out of time.”