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10/15/2013 5:48:00 PM
Huskies 4-1 after defense suffocates Ephrata
Running back Tanner Wagner finds a hole as Cody Anderson makes the block on the edge during a kickoff return in Othello’s 24-3 win over Ephrata Oct. 4. Photo by Erik Pague.
Running back Tanner Wagner finds a hole as Cody Anderson makes the block on the edge during a kickoff return in Othello’s 24-3 win over Ephrata Oct. 4. Photo by Erik Pague.
Erik Pague

Thanks to another dominant defensive performance that limited the visiting Ephrata Tigers to 116 total offensive yards, the Huskies were able to fight to a 24-3 win and a 3-1 CWAC record Friday, Oct. 4. Othello stumbled somewhat in the first half offensively but rallied for two fourth quarter touchdowns to put the score well out of reach for Ephrata. Othello head coach Roger Hoell said it wasn't a pretty win but commended his team for toughing it out.
"It was ugly but effective and we did what we had to do to win the game," he said. "Defensively, the kids had a great handle on it."
The first quarter saw both teams struggling to get their running games going and some ball control and penalty issues in particular hampered Othello's attack. The Huskies finally got on the board late in the second quarter, but only after they recovered from their self-inflicted wounds from flags.
"The things that could have really shut us down were the penalties," Hoell said. "When you look at the penalties, they weren't blatant, flagrant or stupid penalties. A lot of these were ... from being aggressive and giving a lot of effort."
During Othello's first scoring drive, two Ephrata defensive plays forced Othello to lose yardage in the redzone until they were stuck with a third and long at the 28-yard line. Once again, freshman quarterback Adrian Garza stepped up to make a big play, throwing on the run to senior running back Tanner Wagner who skipped untouched into the endzone.
With only the 6-0 lead to show for their efforts at halftime, the Huskies made a few subtle adjustments to their blocking and defensive schemes and Wagner, along with fellow senior Josiah Peterson were able to put things together in the ground game and finished with 107 and 114-yard games, respectively. A Miguel Gonzalez field goal in the third quarter put the Huskies up by nine, but a facemask penalty later on gave Ephrata the field position to score on their own field goal. Othello's defense would not allow anything else from that point on.
"We feel as the game went on, we wore them down," Hoell said. "We just drove the ball, started to make plays and I think that's where our physicality was starting to stand out."
Every bit of that physicality came into play on Othello's first scoring drive of the fourth quarter capped off by a hard-nosed touchdown run from Peterson at the 1-yard line.
The Huskies came back again to make it a three-score game when Garza connected with Gomez for a 21-yard touchdown pass that effectively closed the game out with three minutes left. Gomez finished with three catches for 95 yards.
"Ephrata came ready to play, but luckily, we were able to make some also," Hoell said. "Our last touchdown was exactly what we were supposed to do and we put the nail in the coffin."
Hoell said he's really proud of his team for making Ephrata uncomfortable in their running game and that these last few wins have really improved Othello's playoff chances.
"Beating West Valley and Ephrata gives us an inside track to a state playoff berth," he said.
It won't be any easier for the Huskies as they travel to take on undefeated Ellensburg who defeated Prosser 52-43 in a shootout last week. The top-10 ranked team is playing some good ball this season and Hoell said it would take another elite defensive performance to handle such an explosive team.
"They execute tremendously well and that's probably obvious because they're undefeated thus far and the fact they did beat Prosser," he said. "If it's not broken don't fix it. Our defense has been sound. Basically, we have to tackle well in the open field ... and can't let them have anything after the ball is caught."
This will be the fourth big game in a row for Othello and Hoell sees it as another great opportunity for this team to show what it's made of.
"They've really been on a roll so you know right there it's going to be a battle," he said. "We're ready for that toughness part since we've experienced it the last three weeks."
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at Ellensburg High School and Hoell said he hopes the fans can show up to support the Huskies.

Ephrata 0 0 3 0 3
Othello 0 6 3 15 24

Reader Comments

Posted: Friday, November 1, 2013
Article comment by: Steve Valdez

Othello sports are great, and glad to read about how they're all doing. However, my one dislike, and i played multiple sports in my days, is why are the same players always in the paper? I usually see the same 3 players if it's a football story, i'm sure you all know those 3. If i turn over to girls soccer, its usually the same player advertised. Now i know these are likely the top athletes of their squad, however i know a qb and rb is unsuccessful without their lineman, why not put a picture of the line? Or a forward is soccer needs a midfielder, a goalie needs her defense, a pitcher needs a catcher and so on. Let's give all these kids credit for their hard work, not the same athletes every week. They all practice at the same times on the same fields, they should all be recognized.

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