HEPPNER — Think Heppner is not as good as its record? Think again.
Blake Wolters ran for three touchdowns, and Jayden Wilson threw for two, as the No. 3-ranked Mustangs trampled the Bandon Tigers 49-0 on Saturday afternoon in the first round of the 2A state playoffs at Les Payne Field.
“I’m extremely proud of them,” Heppner coach Greg Grant said of his team. “I was a little worried about them (Bandon). They have an athletic quarterback, but our kids are tough, resilient and they played smart.”
The Mustangs (10-0) will host Warrenton (7-2) at noon Saturday in the quarterfinals.
Bandon, which finished its season 5-5, managed 159 yards of offense, but turned the ball over seven times and could not find the end zone.
“They are a good, solid football team,” Tigers coach Aaron Freitag said of Heppner. “Losing like this is never easy. They played a solid game.”
Heppner punted on its first possession, but scored on its next seven.
After a poor punt by Bandon, the Mustangs took over at the Bandon 36-yard line. A 25-yard run by Wilson put the ball on the 3, where Wolters took it into the end zone on the next play for a 6-0 lead.
Two plays into the Tigers’ next drive, Jason Rea intercepted Bandon quarterback Braydon Freitag to give the Mustangs the ball at the 27-yard line. Four plays later, Mason Lehman ran the ball in from 16 yards out, and the rout was on.
Wilson then threw touchdown passes to Jackson Lehman (23 yards) and Kason Cimmiyotti (41) to extend the Mustangs’ lead to 26-0 less than 2 minutes into the second quarter.
“My coaches and teammates depend on me,” said Wilson, who threw for 64 yards, ran for 74 and had an interception. “I couldn’t do it without my line giving me time, and the receivers getting open. We wanted to play hard no matter the score and get that win.”
Wilson took off for a 41-yard touchdown run on Heppner’s next drive, and Wolters finished off the first half with a 6-yard scoring run as the Mustangs enjoyed a 42-0 lead at the half.
“It’s really my line,” said Wolters, who had 50 yards rushing. “I run the ball. They do all the work, and I get the reward. I want to thank them for that.”
Bandon had the ball to start the second half, but on the third play of the drive the Tigers fumbled the ball, with Wolters recovering for Heppner at the Bandon 19-yard line.
Three plays later, Wolters scored his third touchdown of the game for a 49-0 lead with 9:14 left in the third quarter.
“Blake and Jayden are hard-working kids,” Grant said. “I don’t know if anyone has outworked them. I’m happy for them.”
As per OSAA rules, a lead of 45 points or more at the half, or thereafter, a running clock shall be used.
Grant went with his second-string players the rest of the way, and they did their job by keeping the Tigers out of the end zone.
Brandon looked to get on the board with 7:05 left in the game as Wyatt Dyer sprinted 26 yards to the end zone. The touchdown was negated by a personal foul by Bandon’s Donovan Moore, who also was ejected from the game.
The Tigers were backed up to near midfield after the penalty. They got a 22-yard run from Reef Berry that put them at the Heppner 15, but another fumble, this time recovered by Kannon Wilkins, gave the ball back to the Mustangs, who ran out the clock.
“I’m always proud of the guys,” Freitag said. “It’s an accomplishment to get here. It’s good for the young kids to see a solid team like this.”
Defensively, Brock Hilser and Matt Orem had six tackles each, while Wolters had three tackles and two fumble recoveries. Orem also had two sacks, and Roy Collins a fumble recovery.
“I thought we really challenged them the past few day to be their best and not settle,” Grant said of his team. “We had to get competitive and get down to what football is about — effort.”