LA GRANDE — Mac-Hi opened the game with a touchdown drive and Kendall Brown ran for nearly 200 yards, but La Grande dominated the fourth quarter en route a 41-13 Greater Oregon League football victory here Friday night.
The Tigers improved to 1-1 in the four-team GOL and have an inside track on one of the three state playoff berths. Mac-Hi slipped to 0-2 with one game remaining and stands little, if any, chance of making the playoffs.
Brown, a senior captain, led the Pioneers with an outstanding performance, carrying the ball 27 times for 188 yards.
"Kendall is one real positive," coach Chuck Pease said. "I can’t say enough about him. I wish I could get the same effort from everyone else on the team."
Mac-Hi’s running game kept the Pioneers close throughout most of three quarters before the Tigers took over. La Grande’s balanced attack — 173 yards through the air and 194 yards on the ground — was too much for the Mac-Hi defense.
All was well for the Pioneers to start the game. They opened the game with a 73-yard scoring drive. Brown ran for 68 of those yards on six carries. Jake Knight capped the drive with a 1-yard quarterback sneak.
The Tigers answered right back on their first possession, scoring on a 58-yard drive that featured a balance of throwing and running. With three minutes left in first quarter, it was 7-7.
Mac-Hi punted on its next drive and La Grande connected on a pass play of 64 yards from quarterback Carson Miller to receive Brandon Powell for the go-ahead touchdown.
After the next Pioneer drive stalled, the Tigers responded with another big pass play. Miller and running back Connor White connected on a 50-yard pass, setting the stage for Miller’s 40-yard TD scramble.
The score was 20-7 going at halftime, but Mac-Hi struck first in the third quarter.
Brown, behind the blocking of his offensive line, led the Pioneers downfield for a touchdown with seven minutes left in the third quarter. Brown, who ran the last 11 yards to pay dirt, piled up 59 yards on seven carries in the drive.
After having been burned for big pass plays in the first half, the Mac-Hi defense toughened on the next Tiger possession. After La Grande moved the ball 30 yards, defensive back Patrick Sheets stepped up with a big play. He read the quarterback’s eyes, jumped in front of the receiver and picked off the pass at about the Pioneer 25-yard line.
Mac-Hi couldn’t move the chains after the turnover and was forced to punt once again. The Tigers punted right back but Mac-Hi turned the ball over again, this time on an interception at midfield.
La Grande gained a few yards on its next two plays before Mac-Hi’s defense stiffened again. Nose tackle Angel Palacios stuffed Miller on a quarterback draw, stripping the ball and recovering the fumble.
"That was a great play by Angel," Pease said. "He has played a good middle line for us all year."
Still trailing by just a touchdown early in the fourth quarter, Mac-Hi was unable to move the ball on its possession and attempted to punt.
The kick was blocked and La Grande wasted little time in capitalizing on its great field position. Two running plays covered 26 yards for the touchdown. After the two-point conversion, the Tigers led 28-13 with 6:15 left in the fourth quarter.
On its next drive, Mac-Hi threw another interception, this one returned for a touchdown by Powell.
After the Pioneers punted on their next drive, La Grande ran out the clock with a five-play 75-yard scoring drive. The extra point extended the Tiger lead to 41-13 and completed the scoring.
Pease said after the game that he was disappointed with the overall Pioneer team effort.
"We still haven’t played four quarters of football as a team, all 11 players and all 48 minutes," Pease said. "We let opportunities slip away that we could have taken advantage of and that is what hurts. Not so much that we won or lost."
The Pioneers play their final game of the season at 7 p.m. Friday when they entertain first-place Ontario.
Mac-Hi 7 0 7 0 — 13
La Grande 7 13 0 21 — 41
Mac — Knight 1 run (Saldana kick).
La — Miller 15 run (Erickson kick).
La — Powell 64 pass from Miller (Erickson kick).
La — Miller 40 run (kick failed).
Mac — Brown 11 run (kick failed).
La — Hudkins 11 run (Miller run).
La — Powell 25 pass interception return (kick failed).
La — Humphreys 25 run (McCallum kick).
Mac-Hi La Grande
First downs 14 8
Rushes/yards 43-204 37-194
Passing yards 18 173
Passes (att-comp-int) 6-1-3 16-9-1
Punts 5-141 2-79
Fumbles-lost 5-0 5-1
Penalties-yards 1-5 4-40
RUSHING — Mac-Hi: Brown 27-188, Knight 6-(-18), Law 6-9, Jesse Field 7-20, Jeremiah Field 2-1, Hodgen 1-4; La Grande: Miller 15-78, Jacobs 2-16, Nicholson 3-7, Hudkins 6-32, White 1-9, Humphreys 4-53.
PASSING — Mac-Hi: Knight 0-5-3; Jesse Fields 1-1-0, 18 yards; Richwine 0-1-1. La Grande: Miller 9-16-1, 173 yards, 1 touchdown.
RECEIVING — Mac-Hi: Law 1-18-0; La Grande: Jacobs 1-4-0, Powell 4-99-1, Hudkins 1-12-0, Madson 2-19-0, White 1-9-0.