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Cowboys burn out Comets with running game

Crook COunty High School football team opens 2-0 for first time since 1998 season
Rain only made it better.
   As rare central Oregon showers descended throughout Ward Rhoden Stadium Friday night, the Crook County High football team didn't seem phased.
   The Cowboys used an offensive front for support en route to registering more than 270 yards rushing. They outscored Crater 14-0 in the third quarter and held a potentially dangerous Comet running game to less than two yards per carry.
   The end result of the Crook County home opener: CCHS 31, Crater 13.
   "I don't think it bothered us one bit," said CCHS head coach Steve Turner about the weather. "I think it bothered Crater. They fumbled a few kickoffs. They seemed to be the ones falling down. The irrigation sprinklers run through our practice, so we're actually not a bad wet-weather team."
   The scoring surge of the Cowboys was led by senior tailback Jamie Swindle, who finished the night with 26 carries for 187 yards.
   "It was our linemen. They were opening up huge holes," said Swindle, making his way off the field. "It made my job real easy. I love running behind those guys. I feel really strong right now. It's all because of those linemen."
   In two games, running behind players such as 6-foot-1, 279-pound senior Dan Story and 5-11, 225-pound junior B.J. Caraway, Swindle has carried the ball 44 times for 353 yards and five touchdowns.
   While the opening drive for the Cowboys didn't produce much, it was the Crook County defense making the first move for the home team.
   On just the second play of Crater's starting possession, the Comets fumbled the football, which was recovered in force by Story.
   "Any time you can turn the other team over like that, that early, is a huge momentum shifter for us," Turner said. "That was key to getting us going because our first offensive series wasn't that good. Things just absolutely turned around from there."
   On the CCHS second possession, the Cowboys stormed quickly down the field with sophomore quarterback Chad Swindle at the helm.
   On a third down from the Crater (0-2) 19-yard line, Jamie Swindle handled the ball, weaved in and out of the Comet defenders and dove to the left corner of the end zone to score his first of three touchdowns with 6:38 left in the first, and give his team the 6-0 lead. Senior Jason Wilkinson kicked the point after to make it 7-0.
   In the second quarter, Crater scored on a 1-yard pass from junior D.J. Beatty to senior Trevor Ryan. The Comets came within one 7-6, but the extra-point attempt was blocked by junior Ty Sharp. In addition to the blocked kick, the Cowboys forced two Crater turnovers.
   "Even though a blocked kick wasn't a turnover, that was still a huge play," Turner said.
   In the second quarter, Crook County scored on a 14-yard run by Jamie Swindle and a 24-yard Wilkinson field goal. Wilkinson finished the game with the field goal and four extra points.
   In the closing second of the first half, the Cowboy "D" came up big, stopping a Crater drive at the CCHS 6-yard line as the second quarter came to an end.
   The score after two quarters was 17-6 Cowboys.
   "We're going in 11 points up instead of four," Turner said. "That was a huge stop for us, a huge stop."
   In the second half it was more Crook County.
   Matt Bliss scored on a 5-yard run with 5:59 left in the third, while Jamie Swindle came through the end zone on a 1-yard run with 1:41 left in that same quarter.
   "I thought we played terribly as a whole, not to take anything away from Crook County," said Crater head coach Randy Heath. "They played and did some good things. Offensively, their back ran very hard, and defensively they played pretty well up front."
   Crater scored the lone touchdown of the final quarter, a 5-yard pass to sophomore Cody Ponder from sophomore Nick Rose.
   The Comets ended the night with 36 carriers and 53 yards rushing as a whole, with 153 yards passing.
   For the Cowboys, Chad Swindle completed five of 14 passes for 63 yards. Senior Adam Barney led CCHS receivers with three carries for 29 yards, while Bliss rushed 10 times for 42 yards and sophomore Justin Barden came up with 43 yards on three carries.
   With a home opening win, the Cowboys move to 2-0 on the season.
   "We were really happy with that," Turner said of his team's effort Friday night. "But we know we've got to put out nose back on the grind stone this week and get better. We celebrated that win Friday night, but that was in the past. We have to move on."
   Next up for Crook County High School will be a 7 p.m. matchup Friday at North Eugene.