Tigers' offense sputters in the red zone, but manages a 21-6 win over winless Banks

BANKS - Yamhill-Carlton ruined Homecoming for rival Banks on Friday night, dispatching the Braves 21-6 in their Cowapa league opener and sinking the program to its first 0-6 start in over a decade.

The visiting Tigers (5-1) could have won by a considerably wider margin but shot themselves in the foot on a number of occasions, including four costly turnovers in the red zone. Banks (0-6), meanwhile, stumbled to its sixth straight loss but hung with the high-scoring Tigers for four quarters in front of a rowdy Homecoming crowd.

The Braves limited Yamhill-Carlton's scoring opportunities and forced three turnovers to stay in contention right up until Gabe Linehan's quarterback scramble came up a yard shy of a first down on fourth-and-six with 35 seconds left.

Zach Anderson, Yamhill-Carlton's record-setting quarterback who came into the contest with 23 touchdown passes in just five games, threw two more on Friday - both to senior wideout Wyatt Morgan - but he was also picked off twice in the end zone by Banks' Josh Marsh to end promising drives. Yamhill-Carlton senior J.T. Sorenson also fumbled at the 1-yard line in the second quarter to kill another long drive.

Anderson finished the game with 183 yards passing, but it was teammate Willie Webb - a 5-foot-8, 140-pound running back - who stole the show. Webb bobbed and weaved his way through the Banks defense all night, spearheading a Yamhill-Carlton rushing attack that piled up 269 yards on the ground. The Tigers had 452 total yards in the win.

'That's a lot of yards, but they only put 21 points on the board,' said Banks head coach Ben Buchanan. 'We battled. We made some big plays in the red zone and forced some turnovers, and that kept us in the ballgame.'

Banks, meanwhile, churned out 152 yards on the ground, mainly by Linehan and running back David Fishback. Linehan also had a steady night through the air, completing 65 percent of his passes for 111 yards.

Yamhill-Carlton wasted little time putting Banks in a hole. The Tigers took the opening kickoff and marched 67 yards in less than three minutes, striking pay dirt on a 3-yard touchdown pass from Anderson to Morgan. Paul Nauman's extra point kick made it 7-0 with 9:35 left in the first quarter.

Banks was forced to punt on its first possession, and Yamhill-Carlton quickly went 74 yards for another touchdown, this time a 9-yard run by Webb to make it 14-0 with over 39 minutes still to play.

That was when Banks' defense stiffened. Johnny Janisko fell on Sorenson's fumble for a touchback early in the second quarter to quash one Yamhill-Carlton drive, and Marsh intercepted a tipped pass in the end zone to kill another one. Midway through the third quarter, Banks snuffed out a fourth-and-one at their own 4-yard line to keep the Tigers' lead at two touchdowns, and Marsh picked off his second pass of the game with 1:10 left in the third quarter when he jumped a pass intended for Morgan in the end zone.

'That's what they do,' said Buchanan of the Tigers' propensity to put the ball in the air in scoring situations, largely explaining why Anderson is on pace to break the state record of 56 touchdown passes in a season. 'In the games we watched (on film), they throw the ball from down inside the 10-yard line. The slant route, they make a living on that thing and Josh (Marsh) jumped it twice.'

Yamhill-Carlton finally got its offense back on track early in the fourth quarter. After pinning Banks deep in its own territory, the Tigers got excellent field position on a short punt by Alden Bayless that was returned to the 28-yard line. A few plays later, Anderson tossed a perfect fade pass to Morgan in the corner of the end zone for a touchdown and a 21-0 Yamhill-Carlton lead.

Banks would get its only touchdown of the game with 2:54 left after a long and methodical drive. Marsh made two nice catches on the drive, absorbing a huge hit on the second one to gain 27 yards and move the Braves down to the 7. Two plays later, Fishback bullied his way into the end zone from 3 yards out to make it 21-6.

The Braves attempted an onside kick, but Morgan fell on the ball. Yamhill-Carlton eventually punted, setting up Banks' final drive that stalled on the 9 when Linehan was banged to the turf a yard short of a first down.

'We never gave up. We took some big hits out there and the guys kept coming back. We showed real character, and that's what we're looking for,' said Buchanan. '(Yamhill-Carlton) moved the ball well. They kept us off-balance and really mixed it up. But we had some guys step up and we kept them out of the end zone. We made a little bit of a run there at the end and kept things interesting.'

Buchanan added that, despite the loss, the Braves - who have just eight seasons of varsity experience on their 40-man roster - are making slow and steady progress.

'We're getting better,' he said. 'We're not there yet by any means, but we're getting better. The league's really tough this year. But at least we're building on some things and giving ourselves a chance. If we continue to get better we'll be all right.'

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