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Pirates edge Bobcats 26-24

With Bobcats Juan Ozuna and Skyler Wallace closing in, Pirates quarterback Mychal Kelly takes off. Cody Mann/Headlight Herald

Neah-Kah-Nie held their ground in a close home game against Nestucca this past Friday. The Pirates were already watching for what’s expected to be a fierce Bobcats defensive line this season.

Pirates Head Coach Chris Bennett said his offense needs to show a lot of improvement in the coming week if it wants to compete for a league title, noting the great job done by Bobcats beating his linemen off the ball. He added the running back Travis Bennett was mostly taking hits as he was receiving the handoff.

Bennett was very pleased Mychal Kelly’s efficiency at quarterback compared to the previous two games, Parker Hopkins is developing well at the running back position and Eric Lambert led the team in receiving with five catches for 50 yards. He highlighted a Destin Donaldson catch in double coverage for the final touchdown.

Defensively, the Pirates put up a tough front in the Friday, Sept.27 home game, giving up less than 130 yards on the ground – of which 98 yards came in just two plays. Bennett said he is concerned with Neah-Kah-Nie’s tendency to give up big plays.

“Nestucca made some great plays and we just didn’t cover receivers correctly or tackle well,” Bennett said. “This has been the case all season for us.”

Bennett said the game could have gone either way, and catching some lucky breaks, including a couple of huge plays by Kelly, kept the Pirates in the game. He said the Bobcats are a well-coached team, expected to be in the playoff hunt at the end of the season.

Bobcats Head Coach Tim Foster said it was a good game overall. He saw his team moving the ball on the ground and air as well as several big defensive stops. Untimely turnovers and penalties held Nestucca back though, giving Neah-Kah-Nie new life and extra opportunities – and Pirates capitalized on that.

Foster said it seemed like every time the Bobcats started to gather momentum and had a chance to string together a couple scores, they would have a snap get away from them or miss an assignment, and they’d be looking at 3rd and 15, instead of 3rd and 3. He noted early missed opportunities to build a bigger lead.

“We had three turnovers in the second half, two in the 4th quarter alone, and then we ran out of time to come back,” Foster said. “If we had played a cleaner game, I think we would have walked out with a win.”

Foster pointed out that the Pirates only turned the ball over once and came up with big plays when they needed them. A stubborn Bobcats defense was punctuated by 24 Ben Hurliman’s 24 tackles from middle linebacker as well as big stops by Skyler Wallace and Juan Ozuna.

Neah-Kah-Nie Highlights

Mychal Kelly was 7-10 passing on the night for 88 yards and 1 touchdown. He had 17 carries for 109 yards, and 1 touchdown.

Parker Hopkins had 8 carries for 29 yards, and 1 touchdown.

Travis Bennett had 22 carries for 40.5 yards, and 1 touchdown.

Destin Donaldson had a 30-yard touchdown reception from Kelly.

Nestucca Highlights

Ben Hurliman went 5-13 passing for 132 yards and two touchdowns, rushed 11

times for 61 yards and had 13 solo tackles with 11 assists on defense.

Graydon Johnson had 3 catches for 115 yards and 1 touchdown.

Jaysson Swirtz-Ferdig had 8 carries for 80 yards and 1 touchdown.

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