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Hawks come away with key victory at Willamina

Football: Horizon Christian moves into a tie for second place with its 22-14 win

WILLAMINA - The Horizon Christian High School football team (5-2 overall, 3-1 in league) took a big step towards securing the No. 2 spot place spot in the West Valley League with a 22-14 road win over the host Willamina Bulldogs last Thursday night.

Willamina (4-2 overall, 3-1 in league) came in riding a three game winning streak on the strength of a tough defense that had only given up 27 points in their first five games.

The rain stopped a few hours before kickoff, but the field was still very wet, which led to a sloppy first quarter and game. Horizon marched downfield following the opening kickoff, but fumbled the ball away inside the 20. Willamina came right back with a drive of its own, but fumbled just before scoring, with senior Ryan Sederstrom recovering in the end zone for the Hawks.

Early in the second quarter, Horizon found itself in good field position after senior Seth Cardoza blocked a Bulldog punt. It only took two plays for the Hawks to take advantage, as junior QB Wyatt Houston hit junior Zack Selland for a 38-yard touchdown on a deep post pattern to take a 7-0 lead with 9 minutes and 1 second left to play in the period.

The Hawks, on their next offensive possession, went on 13-play, five-minute drive with Houston scoring the TD on a 4-yard run to take a 13-0 lead heading into halftime.

Willamina came out in the third quarter and turned the table on the Hawks. On their opening drive of the second half, the Bulldogs drove 60 yards in 11 plays to cut the lead to 13-8 on a 2-yard run by senior quarterback Brady Buckner and a two-point conversion. After holding the Hawks and getting good position following a shanked punt, Willamina scored again on a short Bruckner run to take a 14-13 lead after three quarters.

Early in the fourth quarter, the Hawks special teams came up with a few big plays.

First, Horizon Christian caused a fumble on a punt return in Willamina territory, with sophomore Mychal Makarowsky recovering the ball.

Then, the Hawks regained the lead at 16-14 on a 31-yard field goal by junior Taylor Grimmett, after Willamina's defense stiffened.

Willamina came back and drove the ball into Hawk's territory, but the drive stalled. After trading punts, Willamina had the ball at the Hawk 45 with 5 minutes left and chance to drive for a winning score. However, following a fumbled snap, the Hawk's Makarowsky came out of the pile with the ball for his second fumble recovery of the quarter.

Following the turnover, the Hawks drove 45 yards in five plays to score an insurance touchdown with 2:30 remaining to play. Wyatt Houston scored the late TD from six yards out, but the Hawks failed to convert the PAT due to a low snap, so the score remained 22-14. Willamina could have tied the score with a final drive and two-point conversion, but the Hawk defense held on to preserve the win.

Horizon has two West Valley League games remaining following a bye this week. The Hawks host the Sheridan Spartans on Oct. 28 and then play at Amity on Nov. 4.