For all the drama of Week 2, for all the national attention of a video clip, this week was not a letdown at all for Columbia River.
The Chieftains even made the field goal this time.
With the score tied 20-20, Columbia River drove down inside the 10-yard line where Nathan Pyles made a 27-yard field goal as time expired, and the Chieftains defeated Mark Morris 23-20 in a non-league football game Friday in Longview.
“In its own right, it was as dramatic as last week,” Columbia River coach John O’Rourke said. “We just executed the kick this time.”
For the second week in a row, Columbia River’s fate came down to a field goal try.
Last week against Skyview, that kick was blocked, celebration and agony ensued on both sidelines, and then Columbia River picked up the live ball and ended up with an improbable touchdown and victory.
This time, the only blocks made were by the Columbia River linemen and the kick was true.
“We just needed to make sure everyone had their blocking assignments, and make sure we had the right personnel in the game,” O’Rourke said.
Columbia River (3-0) had its opening kickoff returned for a touchdown but nullified by a penalty. The Chieftains then played from behind all game.
Mark Morris (2-1) capitalized on an interception to score first, and then River answered for a 7-7 tie.
Mark Morris took a 14-7 lead into halftime, and came out of the locker room with an 89-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to lead 20-7.
“Every game this year we have been behind,” O’Rourke said. “We showed lots of resilience to win by continuing to execute.”
Columbia River went to work and got a big pass play as Jonathan Branson connected with Nathan Hawthorne on a 65-yard touchdown.
Then in the fourth quarter, River went long again on a 52-yard pass play from Branson to Holden Fielding for a touchdown. The point-after failed and the game was tied 20-20.
“Execution of two long passes was key because we had trouble running the ball,” O’Rourke said.
Columbia River stopped Mark Morris inside the 40-yard line with about four minutes to play and went to work again on what would be the game-winning drive.
COLUMBIA RIVER 23, MARK MORRIS 20
Columbia River 7 0 7 9–23
Mark Morris 7 7 6 0–20
MM — Keigan Baker 4 run (Jake Malcolm kick)
CR — Jonathan Branson 3 run (Cody Schoene kick)
MM — Hayden Tapani 2 run (Malcolm kick)
MM — Cameron Mosier 89 kick return (kick failed)
CR — Nathan Hawthorne 65 pass from Jo. Branson (Schoene kick)
CR — Holden Fielding 52 pass from Jo. Branson (kick failed)
CR — Nathan Pyles 27 FG
RUSHING — CR: Jo. Branson 13-49, Jayson Branson 16-53. MM: Baker 9-38, Hayden Tapani 13-59, Austin Smith 10-37, Andre Gillbert 2-6, Mosier 2-4.
PASSING — CR: Jo. Branson 7-10-2-147. MM: Max Tilton 10-13-0-160.
RECEIVING — CR: Ja. Branson 1-(minus 7), Fielding 2-54, Jason Harmsen 1-9, Marcus Gaylor 2-26, Hawthorne 1-65. MM: Baker 4-40, Smith 1-1, Malcolm 3-69, Kyle Stevens 2-49.