Day After Report: Columbia River vs. R.A. Long

Thursday Night Lights!
It might not have the same appeal as Friday nights, but the Columbia River Chieftains get to say they were the first team in Southwest Washington to pick up a football victory in 2015. All alone in first place for about 24 hours!
The Chieftains, with a lot of new faces in starting roles, showed their fans some promise, showed their coaches some need for improvement, and showed themselves that, yes, they can play at this level.

CRRAL

COLUMBIA RIVER 38, R.A. LONG 14
This game was tied in the second quarter, but the Chieftains dominated the second half for the victory.

Defense leads to offense:
As noted in my game story, Travon Santiago made the play of the night on defense for Columbia River with a sack, forced fumble, and recover, setting up a short field and a River TD.
The numbers say the entire defensive unit came up big in the second half. Good thing, too, for the Chieftains because the first half of the first game of the season did not go so well for them.
R.A. Long put up 278 yards of offense in that first half. That’s not very Columbia River-like.
The second half was old-school River, when R.A. Long was held to 45 yards.

Strange 3rd Q:
There wasn’t much offense for either team in the third quarter.
Columbia River recovered an R.A. Long fumble on the second-half kickoff, but the Chieftains turned the ball over two plays later.
Then the two teams took turns punting. Columbia River ended up with five possessions in the quarter, with a turnover and three three-and-outs before cashing in after Santiago’s big play.

Depth helps:
Columbia River quarterback Garrett McKee said the bigger program took advantage of having a bigger program in this one. Columbia River is a small 3A school but still has big numbers in its football program. R.A. Long is a 2A school.
“We knew we had more guys than them. We could just throw guys at them,” McKee said.
That helped as the fresher Chieftains pulled away from the Lumberjacks.

Do they ever leave the field?
Santiago was known more for his running back abilities coming into the season. He played a strong game as a linebacker, too. He said he has no preference.
“I’m a two-way guy. Whatever the coaches need me to do.”
McKee also has two big roles. He is a quarterback and kicker. Seems rare, but maybe not.
McKee┬ánoticed Saturday that Mountain View quarterback Colin Biggs also is the Thunder’s kicker.
“The QB-kicker combo is the new dual threat,” he tweeted.

R.A. Long takes the lead with great names, River responds:
A year ago, Columbia River shut out R.A. Long. So, yeah, you could say the Chieftains were a little surprised when they lost the lead in the first half of this one. And even after regaining the lead, the Lumberjacks rallied to tie.
“We started off so good, and then we were just dead,” McKee said.
The Chieftains scored on their first drive of the season for a 7-0 lead.
R.A. Long, though, would get a safety and then took an 8-7 lead on a long TD pass from Owen Bertram to Gunnar Blix (two really cool football names, by the way).
“They took the lead, and we said, ‘No way.'” McKee said.
River responded quickly, going 77 yards in seven plays to regain the lead at 14-8.
Then it was Bertam to Blix again, and the game was tied.
The Chieftains ended the first half with their most impressive drive of the game, going 80 yards in 1 minute, 25 seconds, scoring on McKee’s TD run with 4 seconds left on the clock.

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