ATHENA - Good defense and a great running game wins games, and that is what the Weston-McEwen TigerScots found out against the reigning Blue Mountain Conference champion Heppner Mustangs here Friday night in a 38-8 victory.
"The offensive line created a lot of holes," W-M coach Kenzie Hansell said. "We went outside and that opened up holes in the middle to run. I'm real proud of all the guys."
The three-headed monster of Weston-McEwen - quarterback Dallas Reich, and running backs Elliot Salter and Tyler Peterson - ran the ball well and amassed almost 300 yards on the ground against a tough Heppner defense.
To be exact, the TigerScots rushed for 288 yards with Reich and Salter breaking the century mark and Peterson making the most of his carries for two rushing touchdowns.
"I really enjoyed the game," Peterson said. "I really like running the ball and I love watching Elliot run and blocking for him. Our O-line, I've got to give it up for them every time. Those blocks downfield really count for touchdowns."
The falling rain and slippery conditions may have pushed the TigerScots to employ the run more than the pass, and they took what the defense gave them.
"It was a fun night, a great night," Hansell said. "But a little chilly with rain falling and two teams battling it out."
Quarterback Reich threw for the first touchdown of the game, a perfect spiral 43 yards to Nick Lively for the touchdown.
"They (Heppner) were bringing two guys off my backside edge every time I dropped back," Reich said. "Not making the completions was still my fault because my footwork was sloppy. I need to get my footwork down and make the throws for next game."
Reich was just 2-for-12 passing with one touchdown and many quarterback scrambles that led to 103 yards rushing for him.
The first touchdown of the game, the connection from Reich to Lively, happened one minute into the second quarter. The only conversion after touchdown in the game for the TigerScots happened next on a Reich bootleg.
W-M scored five more touchdowns on the night, but failed on all of the rest of the 2-point tries.
Following the passing touchdown, the teams traded interceptions before Lively made a big hit on Heppner's Aidan Wright and force a fumble. From his defensive position, Salter scooped up the ball and sprint 35 yards for the score.
It was 14-0 W-M, with 7:16 remaining in the first half.
Heppner answered with a five-play scoring drive that went 56 yards and was capped by a 29-yard Earl Propheter touchdown run. The 2-point conversion was good on a pass from Camron Day to Cody Orr.
A seven-play, 45-yard scoring drive followed for the TigerScots right before the break. A key pass interference penalty of 15 yards moved the ball downfield for W-M and Reich and Peterson did the rest running the ball.
Peterson capped the drive with a scoring run of three yards with 16 seconds remaining in the first-half.
The TigerScots piled it on in the second half, scoring three more touchdowns and holding Heppner scoreless the rest of the night.
"I've said it all year," Hansell exclaimed. "These kids get it and they work together. Everybody on defense did their job. I'm awfully excited with the kids' effort tonight, controlling their emotions and the tempo of the game.
"We came out with a win and we're going to Enterprise next week to play for a league championship."
In the second half, Salter scored on a 15-yard scamper and 12-yard jaunt before Peterson took it to the house from 35 yards out.
"When you play Heppner," Hansell said, "they are going to come at you with different defensive looks and do a lot of things. We made the necessary adjustments at halftime to continue scoring and pull away while our defense held."
The TigerScots are now 8-0 overall and 5-0 in league with a conference championship matchup at Enterprise Friday at 7 p.m.
W-M is currently ranked fifth in state in 2A football, according to the OSAA rankings which set up the brackets for the playoffs.
Weston-McEwen 38, Heppner 8
Heppner 0 8 0 0 - 8
W-M 8 12 12 6 - 38
W-M - Lively 43 pass from Reich (Reich run).
W-M - Salter 35 fumble return (pass failed).
Hep - Propheter 29 run (C. Orr pass from Day).
W-M - Peterson 3 run (run failed).
W-M - Salter 15 run (pass failed).
W-M - Salter 12 run (run failed).
W-M - Peterson 35 run (run failed).
First downs 7 15
Rushes/yards 43-118 46-288
Passing yards 1 45
Passes (att-com-int) 1-6-1 2-12-2
Punts 5-168 3-111
Fumbles-lost 4-3 1-0
Penalties 8-80 7-40
RUSHING - Hepp: Day 16-26, Propheter 22-97, Wright 4-(-7), Brannon 1-2. W-M: Peterson 11-57, Salter 17-112, Reich 16-103, Lively 1-13, Bond 1-3.
PASSING - Hepp: Day 1-6, 1 yard, 1 interception. W-M: Reich 2-12, 45 yards, 1 touchdown, 2 interceptions.
RECEIVING - Hepp: Propheter 1-1. W-M: Lively 1-43, Salter 1-2.