By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes
Until the final minutes, things seemed to be going the way of the McNary High School varsity football team.
The Celts met the North Medford High School Black Tornadoes in Medford on Friday, Aug. 31, and left the field having been dealt a 16-15 loss. The game saw the Tornadoes roll up from behind a 15-0 McNary lead in the fourth quarter.
McNary’s defense shined through much of the game pushing the Tornadoes back when they encroached and the Celts notched the first points of the game midway through the second quarter when Brett Hildebrand punched through to the end zone on an eight-yard touchdown run. Cody Ratliff split the uprights on the point after to give the Celts a 7-0 lead.
At 8:21 in the third quarter, D.J. Wilson reeled in a pass from quarterback Hayden Gosling and sprinted 71 yards for the second touchdown of the night. McNary faked the extra point and Jordan Barchus connected with Kaleb Simpson on a two-point conversion to give the Keizer team an 15-0 lead.
In the fourth quarter, the Tornadoes finally broke through the Celtic end zone on a five-yard run at 10:21 by Evan Hisey and chopped McNary’s lead in half, 15-7, with the point-after.
The Celtics returned to the ground game to eat time off the clock, but Hildebrand was stripped of the ball on a run attempt. North Medford’s Kolby Talbert ran it back to the Celts’ 41-yard line. The Tornadoes cut their deficit to two points on a completion in the end zone, but missed a two-point conversion attempt that was broken up by Celt Grant Taylor.
With just over four minutes left on the clock, McNary tried to chew more time, but got stymied on a third down attempt. A failed punt gave the Celtics a miniscule five-yard gain and turned over the ball to North Medford.
A pass interference call kept Medford’s drive alive on the McNary 37-yard line and three missed pass attempts wound the clock down to 10.2 seconds.
Medford brought in its punt team and let the game rest on the foot of Preston Chachere at the 39-yard line. Chachere nailed it with six seconds left on the clock for the 16-15 win.
For its first time in competition, McNary’s ground game held its own with 135 yards on 37 carries. Hildebrand, as promised by McNary Head Coach Isaac Parker, was the team’s workhorse with 101 yards on 24 carries. Zac Fegles piled up 27 yards on five carries.
Gosling, in his first outing as a varsity quarterback, completed five of 15 for 125 yards. Wilson had two receptions for a total of 74 yards and Devon Dunagan roped in two passes for 34 yards.
McNary faces down Hillsboro High School at home Friday, Sept. 7, at 7 p.m. The McNary Fine Arts Department is hosting a pregame tailgate party prior to kickoff beginning at 5 p.m.