Warrenton's next stop: state semifinalsREEDSPORT - The wet and windy conditions were just perfect for Saturday's state playoff game between Reedsport and Warrenton as the Braves and Warriors battled the elements in the quarterfinal's "Oregon Coast Bowl."

And the Warriors looked a little more at home in their element than the Braves. The North Coast boys jumped all over Central Coasters for a 30-6 win at Ruppe Field in Reedsport.

The victory sends the unbeaten Warriors on to the state semifinals for the second year in a row, setting up a Warrior-like meeting with Amity (Saturday, time and place to be announced), the four-time defending state champions.

Last week, Warrior head coach John Mattila called Reedsport the "best team in the state," and if that's so, that would make Warrenton ... well, the Warriors don't want to toot their own horn, but it would be hard not to make Warrenton the favorite to win it all at this point, even with Amity on a 44-game win streak.

Especially with the way the Warrenton defense is playing. The Warriors may want to replace that big "W" on their helmet with a 'D.'

The only points Warrenton gave up came on special teams as the Braves avoided the shutout with a late-game kickoff return.

Reedsport had just eight yards rushing and 62 yards in total offense. Warrenton quarterback Nate McBride completed 3-of-5 passes for 95 yards, and intercepted a pass defensively.

"Our defense was really good," McBride said. "We had a scheme going in, where if they had a certain amount of running backs in the backfield it would be a run, and if they didn't it would be a pass."

Mattila said, "We're certainly playing good defense. I don't know if we're playing all that well offensively. We're not playing poorly. We're moving the ball, and we were fortunate to take advantage of some turnovers."

Defensive coordinator Lennie Wolfe "had us very well prepared," Mattila said. "We generally had a feeling if they were in a one-back or no-back formation with three receivers it would be a pass. They used a lot of formations, but they were fairly predictable out of the formations that they used."

It was deja vu for the Warrenton defense early in the game when the Warriors - for the second week in a row - took advantage of a special teams mistake by their opponents to open the scoring.

Reedsport fumbled the snap on a punt and the Warriors recovered at the Braves' 20.

Four plays later, on a fourth-and-six play, McBride connected with the one-handed Brandon Engebretson for a touchdown.

Playing with a club-like cast on his right hand, Engebretson returned to play for the first time since mid-October after breaking his thumb in an auto accident.

Engebretson finished with a fumble recovery and two touchdowns, including a 25-yard interception return in the fourth quarter.

The Warriors weren't expecting that kind of game from Engebretson, "not when you're just coming back off an injury," Mattila said. "But when you have good athletes on the field, things happen. Maybe I should give all my kids five weeks off. We're very pleased with what he did."

McBride added, "He played great. I don't think we expected him to come out and play that well. The first touchdown that he caught, the interception return and the fumble recovery ... those were all great plays."

Reedsport's misadventures on special teams continued on its second series.

Punting into the wind from their own 10, the Braves' punt went for negative yardage, giving the Warriors a first-and-goal at the Reedsport 8.

On second down, Jon Hart found the end zone from nine yards out for a 15-0 lead.

"The punt came off his foot well, but the wind just blew it backwards," Mattila said. "That gave us great field position and the kids put it in.

"The weather played a big part," he added. "I think having the wind to start the game was a big factor. It got them in a hole, and the wind was really howling, blowing sideways. You couldn't punt against it and you couldn't throw into it."

"The weather sure didn't hurt us. Early on, they bobbled the punt, and then the punt that went negative yards. The wind hurt their passing game a lot," McBride said.

Warrenton came up with a big defensive stand late in the second quarter, stopping the Braves on a fourth-and-goal play from the Warrior 10.

The Braves lost another scoring opportunity near the end of the first half, when McBride intercepted a Reedsport pass deep in Warrior territory.

Warrenton had a few missed opportunities of its own.

"We had some turnovers and penalties (16 for 108 yards), but fortunately our defense played well enough to overcome that," Mattila said. "We were on the 1-yard line twice and didn't score for whatever reason. I felt we probably could have put the ball game away earlier.

"Psychologically, (Reedsport) hadn't been in that situation all year. It was tough for them to be behind and not moving the ball, because they'd been scoring a lot of points in every game."

Warrenton's biggest defensive stands:

• On their second possession of the second half, the Braves had a first down at the Warrior 23. That's where the drive started, and that's where it ended, as the Warriors thwarted another fourth-down play.

• Later, after a fumble recovery by the Braves, Reedsport drove the ball to the Warrenton 3-yard line. But a big third-down sack by Mike Hyten pushed the Braves back to the 12, and a fourth down pass was broken up by McBride.

• The Warrior defense put the game on ice early in the fourth quarter when Nick Smith picked off a Josh Thornton pass at the Warrenton 33.

Two plays later, Smith put a lock on the win, breaking loose on a short pass from McBride for a 67-yard touchdown.

Not to be left out, the Warrior defense put up some points of their own, as Jon Hart trapped Thornton in the end zone for a safety for a 23-0 lead.

And not long after that, Engebretson was racing to the end zone with his interception return.

"We have a good shot against Amity," McBride said, "as long as we play well and take care of business. They're a good team. There's a reason they've won 44 games in a row. We're going to have to play our best to have a chance."

Mattila said, "We should be the underdog (against Amity)," he said. "The last time we played they beat us on a last-second pass. That was Dusty McGrorty's senior year, and they went on to win the state championship, and that was the start of their string."

Southern Oregon 44, Eastern Oregon 19ASHLAND - The ninth-ranked Southern Oregon University football team scored 24 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to blow past Eastern Oregon 44-19 Saturday at Raider Stadium, clinching a second consecutive trip to the NAIA playoffs.

Junior tailback Dusty McGrorty spearheaded the SOU attack by amassing 92 of his game-high 161 rushing yards in the second half. The third of his three touchdowns - a 1-yard scamper on the opening drive of the third quarter - gave the Raiders the lead for good, 20-16.

Southern Oregon jumped out to a 14-7 lead on 6- and 10-yard scoring runs by McGrorty.

The Mountaineers (1-9) led 16-14 at halftime and trailed only 20-19 after three quarters.

SOU will host 15th-ranked Montana-Western Saturday in a first round game.


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