MILTON-FREEWATER - Mac-Hi's football team continued its steady improvement, scoring its first win at home Friday by edging Nyssa, 21-18.
The Pioneers came out strong defensively, shutting down Nysaa in the first period, while a Josh Rutherford 37-yard dash to the end zone gave Mac-Hi an early lead.
"I was really pleased with how our line played," said Mac-Hi head coach Chuck Pease. "A lot of our success was due to the line. I was just overall really happy with how our team played, and they were able to put on a good show in front of their home fans."
Nysaa tied the game at 6-all on a five yard pass from Jackson Stipe to Angel Castellanoz, but the Pioneers rallied for nine points before the half, capped by a six-yard pass from Derrick Richwine to Jensen Jones to push the score to 15-6 at intermission.
"You could really see the effort that this team showed on the field today," Pease said. "They just really wanted this win, and they put forth what they needed to do to get us in the win column."
Establishing the run early was a key that Mac-Hi focused on coming into the game.
"We definitely had a plan that we wanted to move the ball on the ground and rely on our line, and it worked out," Pease said. "It helped us take control of the game."
Rutherford reaped most of the benefits from the line's solid play, amassing 122 yards on 17 carries.
Mac-Hi stretched its lead to 15 in the third quarter on Rutherford's second lengthy sprint to pay dirt, but Nysaa rallied in the fourth, scoring two touchdowns before the first two minutes of the frame had even passed to make it 21-18.
"Our guys were tough," Pease said. "We knew what kind of team Nysaa is, and we weren't surprised that they made a run. I think we saw tonight what our players value and what they can accomplish. This was a night that if we had eliminated mistakes then we could have won by more points, but it shows that this group can fight through mistakes and hold on."
A Nysaa mistake wound up being the deciding blow in the game. With just under a minute to go in the fourth the Pioneers were ready to punt the ball back to Nysaa, but a roughing the kicker call gave Mac-Hi a first down, the opportunity to run out the clock and hold on to the three-point win.
"It feels good to get that first win," Pease said. "We didn't give up and that's a major step toward becoming a successful program."
Up next for Mac-Hi is another home tilt Friday against Boardman.
"I've been really pleased with the character of this team and how our guys have played all season," Pease said. "It's not just a football game to them. Especially at home, it's a chance for these guys to represent their community, and they really value that."
Mac-Hi 21, Nyssa 18
Nysaa 0 6 0 12 - 18
Mac-HI 6 9 6 0 - 21
Mac - Rutherford 37-yard run (conversion failed).
Nysaa - Castellanoz 5 pass from Stipe (conversion failed).
Mac - 38-yard field goal.
Mac - Jones 6 pass from Richwine (conversion failed).
Mac - Rutherford 40 run (conversion failed).
Nysaa - McDaniel 11 pass from Stipe (conversion failed).
Nysaa - McDaniel 20 pass from Stipe (conversion failed).
First downs 14 13
Rushes/yards 36-217 34-162
Passing yards 154 71
Passes (att-comp-int) 14-25-3 4-14-1
Punts 3-104 5-231
Fumbles-lost 2-2 3-2
Penalties-yards 10-83 10-75
RUSHING - Nysaa: Stratton 13-126, Urrutia 11-52, Boster 6-24, Smith 3-13, Stipe 3-2; Mac-Hi: Rutherford 17-122, Jones 10-38, Saldana 4-5, Richwine 3--3.
PASSING - Nysaa: Stipe 14-25 154. Mac-Hi: Saldana 3-5, 44; Richwine 1-9, 27.
RECEIVING - Nysaa: Field 6-70, Urrutia 2-41, Goodell 2-8, Castellanoz 1-18, Vineyard 1-5, Stratton 1-1. Smith 1-1; Mac-Hi: Field 1-30, Sandoval 1-27; Richwine 1-12, Rutherford 1-2.