WINNEBAGO – For Oregon to have a chance in its game against Winnebago, the No. 6 team in 3A, a few breaks would have to go its way.
That did not happen, and the unbeaten Indians cruised to an easy 28-7 win on Friday night.
Oregon’s (3-4, 1-3) best opportunity came late in the second quarter after a fumble recovery by Cody Flanagan. Taking over at midfield and trailing 14-0, the Hawks marched to the Winnebago 10-yardline, the key play being a Tyler Blume 10-yard pass to Pierce Dhaese on fourth down.
Two plays later, though, a holding penalty created a passing situation for the Hawks. On a poorly executed play between receiver and quarterback, Blume was intercepted by Ryan Swigart.
Taking over at its own 34-yard line with less than 1 minute left in the half, Swigart led Winnebago on a 4-play scoring drive. A 39-yard screen pass to Michael Pate made it 21-0.
“I don’t think we played real well at first,” Oregon coach John Bothe said. “We needed to execute better.”
On Winnebago’s previous touchdown, it was a 63-yard pass from Swigart to Zach Thoren. The first scoring drive was all on the ground, capped off by a Sean Ward 2-yard plunge.
“They’re a better team than us, but we backed off physically,” Bothe said.
The Hawks put together their most impressive drive of the game right after halftime.
Facing a third-and long deep in its own territory, Oregon surprised the Indians with the counter, and Chris Jordan ran 17 yards for a first down.
Nick Newman, who led Oregon with 68 yards rushing, then went for 10 yards, and Sawyer Reynolds followed up with a 13-yard run.
The drive stalled, as the Indian defense stiffened. Any chance of the Hawks getting back into the contest ended early in the fourth quarter after Swigart hooked up with Isaiah Yanni on a touchdown pass, making it 28-0.
Oregon nearly matched Winnebago (189-203 yards) on the ground, but lacked the big-play capability of the Indians and struggled in the passing game.
“The critical plays went to Winnebago” Bothe said.
Garrett Rude prevented Oregon from being shut out for the first time since the 2011 game against Harvard by running for a 3-yard yard touchdown late in the fourth quarter.
Besides the first-half fumble recovery, Oregon’s defense was aided by a quarterback sack by Travis Burke, which helped stop a Winnebago drive.
Needing to win the next two games to make the playoffs, Oregon returns home to face Mendota, a team that led Winnebago 33-27 in the fourth quarter before losing 34-33.