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McMinnville quarterback Wyatt Smith (12) dives for the pylon to score the first touchdown of the game for the Grizzlies in the game against the McNary Celtics Friday.
Rockne Roll/News-Register## McMinnville quarterback Wyatt Smith (12) dives for the pylon to score the first touchdown of the game for the Grizzlies in the game against the McNary Celtics Friday.
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McNary players (in white) celebrate their game-winning touchdown as Mac’s Brad Hessel (10) and Mason Wennerstrom (41) can only watch in disbelief.
Rockne Roll/News-Register## McNary players (in white) celebrate their game-winning touchdown as Mac’s Brad Hessel (10) and Mason Wennerstrom (41) can only watch in disbelief.
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McMinnville s Cedric Agcaoili-Ostrom (24) fights for an extra yard in the Grizzlies  game against the Celtics at Wortman Stadium on Friday, Oct. 7.
Rockne Roll/News-Register## McMinnville's Cedric Agcaoili-Ostrom (24) fights for an extra yard in the Grizzlies' game against the Celtics at Wortman Stadium on Friday, Oct. 7.
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McMinnville s Drew Rubado latches onto McNary s Xavier Martinez during the Grizzlies  game against the Celtics at Wortman Stadium on Friday, Oct. 7.
Rockne Roll/News-Register## McMinnville's Drew Rubado latches onto McNary's Xavier Martinez during the Grizzlies' game against the Celtics at Wortman Stadium on Friday, Oct. 7.
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McMinnville s Tyler Demmin (63) goes in for a tackle in the Grizzlies  game against the Celtics at Wortman Stadium on Friday, Oct. 7.
Rockne Roll/News-Register## McMinnville's Tyler Demmin (63) goes in for a tackle in the Grizzlies' game against the Celtics at Wortman Stadium on Friday, Oct. 7.
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McMinnville s Colton Smith surges upfield in the Grizzlies  game against the Celtics at Wortman Stadium on Friday, Oct. 7.
Rockne Roll/News-Register## McMinnville's Colton Smith surges upfield in the Grizzlies' game against the Celtics at Wortman Stadium on Friday, Oct. 7.
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McMinnville s Tyler Sitton (4) is hauled down in the Grizzlies  game against McNary on Friday, Oct. 7, at Wortman Stadium.
Rockne Roll/News-Register## McMinnville's Tyler Sitton (4) is hauled down in the Grizzlies' game against McNary on Friday, Oct. 7, at Wortman Stadium.
By Rusty Rae • Sport Editor • 

Heartbreaker! Gritty Grizzlies lose dog fight to Celts, 30-27

Grit.

It means firmness of character or indomitable spirit.

Grit represents a major component of the McMinnville Grizzly football team.

Though the Grizzlies dropped a 30-27 heartbreaking loss Friday in their homecoming game at Wortman Stadium, the team is undaunted in its quest for a playoff berth in the state play-offs.

Want to know what grit means on a personal level? Consider Josh Ford.

Josh, a senior defensive end for the McMinnville eleven, is “five foot nothing and a 100 and nothing”. OK, he’s really a 5-8, 140-pound defensive end, playing against guys 30 to 50 pounds heavier than he is. How can he play the game?

Ford exemplifies the grit of the Grizzly team.

He says, “Football is one of America’s greatest games and I just want to be a part of it.”

While he also plays wide receiver, he loves playing defense. “You get to read and react to what the offensive is doing – and fly around and make a play.”

Regarding the game against McNary, he said, “We are upset we lost. But we came out strong and never skipped a beat.

“It stings at first. I give myself a day to pout, and as time goes on, the sting fades away –but you remember it in practice and work so that it does not happen again”

He adds, “It was a punch in the face – but we are going to come back with a fire in our belly and Thursday’s game is going to be one heck of a game.”

Grit.

McMinnville head coach Ryan McIrvin said of Ford, “He is a smart kid who really understands the game. Because of that, we can play him at a number of positions.”

Besides an ability to play several positions and play bigger than his size, McIrvin added, “He is one of our ‘glue’ guys. He leads by example, but he also understands when to speak up.”

To refer to the 30-27 loss as a punch to the gut is plain understatement. In a game with more ebb and flow than the tides at Pacific City, the Grizzlies actually did not lose the game as much as they simply ran out of time.

The last eight minutes of the game encompassed critical moments, after the Grizzlies took a 27-23 lead.

A major loss befell the Grizzlies battering-ram running back, Cedric Agcaoili-Ostrom, leaving the field with a sprained knee. Up to that point, he had run for 200 yards for the second consecutive week.

One of the top linebackers in the league, his absence during crunch time, was a critical loss for the team.

For more than 20 minutes of the second half, the Grizzly defense blunted McNary’s Oregon Duck-styled hurry-up offense, holding it to a single field goal.

Like many contest, this was a game of inches and split seconds. McMinnville missed a field goal attempt wide right from the McNary 21-yard line at the 11:15 mark of the fourth quarter. The Grizzlies held on defense and the Celtics punted.

McMinnville started its next drive at the 8:26 mark on their own 27-yard line. Agcaoili-Ostrom had his final carry of the night, a five yard run, before leaving the game with the knee injury. With Ray Jacobs filling in, the Grizzlies pushed to the McNary 49-yard line before being forced to punt. McNary was once again bottled up by another great defensive effort and also punted.

McMinnville drove to the 39-yard line, but on a third-and-five play, there was a center-qb exchange snafu for no gain. The Grizzlies punted.

Colton Ramos had another booming kick McMinnville was not able to corral. The ball bounced into the end zone, giving McNary the ball on its 20 yard line at the 3:13 mark.

The Grizzlies bend-but-don’t-break defense was within an ant’s eyelash on several occasions of turning away McNary yet again.

The Celts pushed to the Grizzly 15-yard line but were called for holding. McNary quarterback Josiah Gilbert was stopped on his next three passing attempts. On a fourth and 25 from the McMinnville 29, despite the Grizzly defense pressuring him, he escaped their rush and tossed the ball into the end zone. McMinnville’s Brad Hessel, stellar all night, was simply out jumped for the ball. The score and PAT gave the Celts the 30-27 lead with 1:24 left in the game.

The Grizzlies took the kick-off at their 37-yard and proceeded to steadily drive toward, at the very least, a tying field goal. First, it was QB Wyatt Smith, tucking the ball and running for 20 yards. Smith next hit a pass for 14 yards and McMinnville was in business with a first and 10 from the Celtic 26-yard line.

With 36 seconds remaining, Smith went to the air again, throwing to brother Colton, on what appeared an out route (so the Grizzlies could stop the clock on the catch). The McNary defensive player made a terrific break on the ball and intercepted with 36 seconds on the clock. It was all over but the shouting on the McNary side of the field.

The loss for McMinnville was doubly painful, dampening homecoming night, and because the team led at various times, 20-7 in the first half, and as mentioned previously, 27-23 Several other chances to put points on the board were not capitalized on.

McMinnville took the opening kick-off and drove the field for the first score of the game with Agcaoili-Ostrom doing most of the work. However, it was a gutsy run by Wyatt Smith from the three yard line that earned the first seven points of the night. McNary tied the game in the next series, but the Grizzlies went on an offensive tear. It was Agcaoili-Ostrom taking the ball 44 yards for the second score at the two minute mark of the first quarter.

The game of inches played out in several different acts toward the end of the first half.

At the 5:14 mark of the second quarter Agcaoili-Ostrom scored again and it seemed that the Grizzlies were on their way with a 20-7 lead.

However, the Celts came back with a pair of scoring drives of their own. Their second score came at the 2:27 mark of the second quarter on an 18-yard run by Lucas Garvey completing a 90-yard.

On the ensuing kick-off the Grizzlies drove to their 38-yard line. On a second-and-10 play Wyatt was interecepted, giving McNary the ball on the Grizzly 28.

“None of our receivers really ran the proper routes and Wyatt was trying to make a play. We didn’t execute properly and we paid the price,” McIrvin said.

On the next play, Colton Smith had a sure interception of Gilbert in his hands, but dropped it. With 19 seconds left in the first half, Brendan Van Voorhis scored on a 10-yard run. The PAT was no good, and at the half the score was knotted, 20-20.

While it may be only a moral victory, the Grizzlies can take solace in the fact they played hard for the entire 48 minutes and even in the darkest moment, never gave up.

The loss dropped McMinnville to 4-2 on the season and 3-2 in league play. They will visit league-leading West Salem on Thursday.

 

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