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Mustangs advance to state championship game

by Lindy Williams
Burns Times-Herald

Jay Jay Balowski looks for an opening.
Jay Jay Balowski looks for an opening. (Photos by LINDY WILLIAMS)

After an accident that claimed the life of one team member, John Barry Rose, and injured another, TC Hammack, the Crane Mustangs football team rallied together to advance to the state championship game.

On Saturday, Nov. 19, Crane beat North Douglas 36-24 at Summit High School in the semi-final round of the 1A OSAA State Football Championship.

The Mustangs and the North Douglas Warriors battled throughout the first quarter with no touchdowns, resulting in a 0-0 score at the beginning of the second quarter.

During the Mustangs’ first possession of the second quarter, runs by David Steeves, Jacob Dunn, and Jay Jay Balowski put Crane in scoring position.

The Mustangs’ Sam Williams lines up on defense. (Photos by LINDY WILLIAMS)
The Mustangs’ Sam Williams lines up on defense. (Photos by LINDY WILLIAMS)

With nine minutes left in the second quarter, a handoff from Miles Maupin to Steeves resulted in the first score of the game. Maupin ran in the two-point conversion, putting the score at 8-0.

The Warriors’ Riley Swafford answered right back with a 49-yard touchdown. Swafford also ran in the two-point conversion, tying the game at 8-8.

An onside kick returned the ball to Warrior hands, but a tackle on fourth-and-nine ended the possession. A 31-yard gain by Balowski and subsequent first down put the Mustangs into scoring territory. Maupin dropped back and passed to Cashe Davis, who ran in a touchdown, making the score 14-8.

The next touchdown came with four minutes left in the third quarter when Swafford ran the ball in for a Warriors touchdown. Swafford connected with Cal Parks for the two-point conversion, putting North Douglas in the lead, 16-14.

The Mustangs traded possessions with the Warriors, both losing the ball on downs. A sack by Sam Williams on fourth-and-two returned the ball to the Mustangs. Three plays later, a handoff from Maupin to Steeves resulted in a 37-yard touchdown. The extra point from Steeves put the score at 22-16.

With the Warriors facing a second-and-seven, Davis intercepted a throw from Swafford and returned the ball to Crane’s hands. Maupin then handed off to Balowski, who ran for 38 yards to the end zone. The two-point conversion failed, and Crane led 28-16.

With just over three minutes left in the fourth quarter, Swafford connected with Parks for a 27-yard Warriors touchdown. Swafford and Parks teamed up again for the two-point conversion, narrowing the game to 28-22.

On Crane’s next possession, Maupin ran 29 yards up the field for a first down. He then handed off to Steeves for a 19-yard touchdown. Maupin connected with Balowski for the extra point, bringing the game to 36-24 with two minutes left in the game.

An interception by Balowski ensured a Mustang win and Maupin took a knee as the clock ran out.

The Mustangs logged 336 yards rushing for the game. Balowski led the rushing attack with 107 yards on 11 attempts, Steeves had 102, Maupin 93, and Dunn 23.

Crane’s offense picked up 28 yards through the air. Maupin threw for all 28 yards on two completions. Davis was the Mustangs’ leading receiver with 25 yards on one reception, and Elijah Epling caught one pass for three yards.

For the second year in a row, the Mustangs’ will play in the OSAA 1A state championship game against Dufur at Hermiston High School. The game will take place Saturday, Nov. 26, at noon.

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