BATTLE GROUND -- Two football programs on the upswing clashed on Friday.
Evergreen's defense ended up rising to the occasion.
The Plainsmen allowed zero points in the second half of their 29-20 win over Prairie at District Stadium.
Evergreen now sits at 2-1, a turnaround for a team that won four games during the past three seasons combined.
But first-year coach Don Johnson is far from satisfied. And those higher standards are part of the reason Evergreen is improving.
"I'd say it's a good win, but it just makes us more frustrated about how we played last week (in a loss to Mountain View)," Johnson said.
Prairie entered Friday 2-0 for the first time since 1997. The Falcons led 20-7 early in the second quarter only to allow 22 unanswered points.
"We beat ourselves," Prairie coach Terry Hyde said. "If we had three feet, we would have shot all three. We felt we controlled the game, but we had mistakes at inopportune times."
Indeed, Prairie's rushing attack dominated the first half.
Ronnie Evenden scored all three Falcons touchdowns and finished with 225 yards on 21 carries, becoming the team's third rusher to surpass 200 yards for the season. His 39-yard touchdown to open the second quarter gave him 155 through his first 10 carries.
But Evergreen retook the momentum in the two minutes prior to halftime. After pulling within 20-14, the Plainsmen recovered an onside kick.
"They showed a hole in film between their second and third guy," Johnson said. "We went for it when we had a chance and it worked for us."
The Plainsmen then drove 35 yards to take a 21-20 lead 40 seconds before halftime. That 5-yard TD run by Rey Green was the sophomore's third touchdown of the game after two TD catches.
Evergreen's halftime adjustments paid off. While Prairie still moved the ball, the Falcons had drives end twice in missed field goals, once on a fumble and once on a failed fourth-down conversion.
"They were trying to throw screens and our D-line sat on it so well," Evergreen linebacker Brody Bagnall said. "We put some fast guys in during the second half. They just flew around and made plays."
Justin Straup's 11-yard touchdown run, followed by a two-point conversion, gave Evergreen a 29-20 lead with 3:10 to play. The Plainsmen play Kelso next week before opening Class 4A Greater St. Helens League play Oct. 4 against Battle Ground.
"They're starting to tune into our coaching and accept it," Johnson said. "The key is we don't have any egos on the team. Guys were subbing in where they needed to and were playing whatever position they needed to to win."
Prairie has its final nonleague game next week against Mark Morris before opening Class 3A Greater St. Helens League play against Mountain View.
"This is a maturity check." Hyde said. "You look at it and say hey, how did I play tonight and what can I do to get better."
EVERGREEN 29, PRAIRIE 20
Evergreen 7 14 0 8--29
Prairie 14 6 0 0--20
E -- Rey Green 66 pass from Justice Murphy (Connor Finnegan kick)
P -- Ronnie Evenden 2 run (Scott Keyser kick)
P -- Evenden 64 run (Keyser kick)
P -- Evenden 39 run (kick failed)
E -- Green 12 pass from Brandon Bea (Finnegan kick)
E -- Green 5 run (Finnegan kick)
E -- Justin Straup 11 run (Murphy pass from Bea)
RUSHING -- Evergreen: Straup 16-84, Robert Akil 9-32, Kobey Eaton 1-minus 5, Green 10-46, Murphy 1-11; Prairie: Evenden 21-225, Dallas Goodpaster 12-76, Jordan Marti 6-19.
PASSING -- Evergreen: Bea 8-18-121, Murphy 1-1-66; Prairie: Tyler Armstrong 6-17 64.
RECEIVING -- Evergreen: Green 3-102, Murphy 2-22, Straup 2-39, Eaton 1-15, Brady Weir 1-9; Prairie: Jason Bracken 4-62, Taylor Martin 1-1, Evenden 1-1.