The Lebanon Warriors showed off a balanced offensive attack on Friday night in a 37-16 victory over the visiting Dallas Dragons in a Mid-Willamette Conference match-up.
The Warriors (2-0, 2-0 MWC) amassed 557 yards of total offense, gaining 368 yards on the ground on 37 carries for an average of just under 10 yards per rush.
Senior Chaz Daniels led the way with 176 yards on just 13 carries with two touchdowns. His 67-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter capped the scoring for the Warriors.
But Lebanon also demonstrated a proficient passing attack. Quarterback Colton Shepard connected with Eddy Kennedy on three touchdown passes on plays of 37, 15 and 23 yards. For the game, Kennedy caught six passes for 149 yards and Shepard was an efficient 10 for 16 for 189 yards with one interception.
Lebanon head coach Ty Tomlin said the team was a little disappointed with its passing attack in its opening victory over Corvallis. The team focused on the passing game during the week of practice leading up to Dallas and the results showed.
Tomlin said Kennedy, who is also the backup quarterback, is very good at reading defenses and finding weak spots.
“He knows how to run routes,” Tomlin said. “He and Colton have a good relationship.”
Shepard said the offense wants to be more balanced to keep defenses from loading up to stop the Warriors’ vaunted running game.
“We needed Silverton to know we can pass. It’s good that they know we can throw the ball, too,” Shepard said.
The Warriors travel to face the Foxes (2-0, 2-0 MWC) on Friday, Sept. 14.
Tomlin said the Warriors’ goal is to be able to take advantage of whatever defensive alignment teams show.
“Teams that want to load the box, we want to throw it,” Tomlin said.
Both the running game and the passing game are dependent upon the offensive line doing its job and Tomlin was proud of the effort against Dallas. The Warriors wore down the Dragons and the backs repeatedly found space for long runs. Four different Warriors had at least one carry for more than 20 yards.
“It starts up front. We’ve got a really good group of senior linemen. We take pride in that,” Tomlin said.
The Warriors also have great depth in the backfield. Brock Barrett had 50 yards on seven carries and Landon Kisling added 40 yards on just four carries. Sophomore Keith Brown was not available on Friday night.
Defensively, the Warriors limited the Dragons to just 224 yards of total offense. The Dragons ran for 95 yards on 34 carries, average less than 3 yards per carry.
The Dragons scored 16 points by taking advantage of good field position after Warrior turnovers.
“I think our defense played phenomenal in both halves,” Tomlin said.
Junior defensive lineman Gatlyn Anderson had a strong game with three tackles for a loss. Sophomore defensive back Dane Sipos had a team-high seven tackles including two tackles for a loss.
Turnovers have been a problem for the Warriors so far this season and the Warriors are minus-4 in turnover differential through two games. Lebanon also committed eight penalties against Dallas, causing their coach some concern.
“We have to clean that up,” Tomlin said. “Way too many penalties.”
Silverton will present the Warriors with a real challenge. The Foxes have been impressive so far this season, defeating Central 51-14 in their opener and downing South Albany 56-23 on Friday.
Silverton is led by senior quarterback Levi Nielsen, a four-year starter, who is a threat both through the air and on the ground.
“They’re good. They’re always good. They’re a physical team, a strong team,” Tomlin said. “Our kids are excited for the opportunity.”
Shepard said success begins practice.
“From the beginning practice to the end, we need to have a crisp week of practice,” Shepard said. “It’s going to be an exciting one, a close one, fun to watch.”