Trouble with execution costly to Trojans

Oregon’s Nolan Thomas gets a grasp on Mendota running back Cody Jenner on Oct. 25 at the MHS field. (Reporter photo)

MENDOTA – Many factors play into the outcome of a football game. High on the list is execution.

When it came down to crunch time in the fourth quarter, Mendota’s inability to execute ended up costing it the game. Conversely, Oregon was able to make the plays when it needed to the most and the Hawks went on to clip the Trojans, 20-12, in a Big Northern Conference battle on Oct. 25 at the MHS field.

The loss ended a 1-8 campaign for the Trojans.

For the second straight game, Mendota’s offense showed significant signs of life. The Trojans were able to move the ball successfully on the ground and in the air, and they were marching toward what might have been another game-winning touchdown like they did at Rock Falls the week before.

Taking over at its own 20-yard line with 1:18 left in the third quarter and trailing 14-12, Mendota chewed up yardage with the run and the pass. The big play of the drive was a 32-yard pass completion from quarterback Ted Landgraf to Chris Sandoval that put the ball at the Oregon 39 in the final seconds of the third quarter.

Mendota continued marching as the contest moved to the fourth frame, and the Trojans found themselves with a first-and-goal at the Oregon 4-yard line. But what was an extremely successful offensive series for the Trojans came to a screeching halt when four plays from scrimmage resulted in negative 1 yard for Mendota, and Oregon took over possession of the football at the 5-yard line with 7:13 left in the game.

The Trojan defense, which had held Oregon at bay for most of the contest, finally broke down on the Hawks’ ensuing possession. A 42-yard run by Breccan Berns got Oregon out of the hole and to midfield. A minute and a half later, Berns ripped off another long run, this time for 43 yards to the end zone to give the Hawks a 20-12 lead. The extra-point kick by Daniel Dominguez was wide right, and the Trojans were still within one score of tying the game.

Mendota started its next series at its own 32 with 4:35 left. An 18-yard pass from Landgraf to Cole Stremlau advanced the ball to the 50, then Stremlau ran for 14 yards to the Hawk 36. But Mendota’s hope of a second straight comeback victory was squelched when Oregon’s Andrew Herbst intercepted a Landgraf pass at the Hawk 22-yard line with 2:56 left.

Oregon was able to run out the remaining time on the clock to seal the victory.

The game started rather inauspiciously for the Trojans when their opening kickoff was taken back 80 yards for a touchdown by Oregon’s Jacob Milliman. Dominguez booted the PAT kick for a speedy 7-0 Hawk lead.

Mendota’s ensuing possession began at its own 26 and the Trojans advanced the ball to Oregon’s 17 where they turned it over on downs.

But Mendota quickly found itself in business again when Oregon quarterback Ryker Finch coughed up the ball and Stremlau recovered at the Hawk 42. The Trojans moved the ball just 3 yards in their first three plays, but on fourth down, Andres Castaneda hauled in a 14-yard pass from Landgraf to give Mendota a first down. One play later, Landgraf connected with Damien Magallanes on a pass and Magallanes tiptoed the sidelined for a 20-yard touchdown reception eight seconds into the second quarter. Mendota’s extra-point kick was blocked.

Oregon answered right back when its next series resulted in a seven-play, 59-yard touchdown drive. Berns capped off the possession with a 7-yard run and Dominguez followed with the PAT kick to make it 14-6.

The Trojans completed the first-half scoring when they took their ensuing possession 60 yards in 15 plays, culminated by a 3-yard touchdown run by Cody Jenner. Mendota’s two-point try was no good. The drive took eight minutes, 22 seconds to complete, and left only six seconds on the first-half clock.

Mendota outgained Oregon in the game, 314 yards to 261. The Trojans ran for 195 yards and threw for 119. Jenner had 22 carries for 106 yards and he caught five of Landgraf’s 10 pass completions. Berns picked up 225 yards rushing on 24 attempts for Oregon.

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