It did not take long into Friday's game with Irrigon for the Pilot Rock Rockets to show the Blue Mountain Conference that last week's loss to Elgin would not become a trend.
With two scores in the first six minutes and the defense pitching a shut out, the Rockets steam-rolled their way to a 35-0 victory.
Being the last home game of the regular season, the seniors were in the spotlight, and did not disappoint.
"They played well," coach Troy Jerome said of his seniors. "The seniors had a good game and we tried to get all of them in the game, so it was good to the seniors go out."
The senior laden front seven of the Pilot Rock defense played a major role in the shutout of the Knights, holding them to 64 yards of total offense and racking up 10 tackles for loss in the process. Senior Matt Allen had a hand in many of those, and finished with double digit tackles and shared in two of the three Pilot Rock sacks.
"Our defense was killer," Allen said. "I love it when our defense doesn't give up any points. We had everybody step up and hit some helmets and we had four or five guys to the ball and I love to see that."
Irrigon simply could not get anything going on offense. Jesus Munoz was the most productive Knight, rushing for 34 yards, but as a team they could not sustain drives and get into the end zone.
Even after starting out on the Pilot Rock 9-yard line as a result of a botched punt by the Rockets, Irrigon could not find the holes in the Rockets' defense, getting stuffed on fourth down and turning the ball over on downs.
"We had a rough time with them," Irrigon coach Ray Davis said. "We did a pretty good job running the middle at the beginning of the game, but had trouble running our spread offense against them. They just put a lot of pressure on us and we have a young line so that hurt us."
The defensive shutout was a welcome prospect for Jerome and his coaching staff, especially after the Rockets gave up 36 points to Elgin a week ago.
"It was a confidence builder," junior Chance Bandy said. "It helped to raise the emotions of everybody, and we're looking to beat (Weston-McEwen) next week."
Bandy and the Rocket offense was effective enough to put points on the board, while also controlling the clock.
"We moved the football well," Bandy said. "We got into a little turnover trouble and had some dropped passes, but the offensive line stepped it up."
The junior signal caller led the way, adding 79 rushing yards to 149 passing, and was responsible for three touchdowns, including two on the ground. And after Bandy and Travis Copeland ran in back-to-back touchdowns within 1:10 of each other in the first quarter, the Rockets had all the offense they would need.
"We played well on both sides of the ball," Jerome said. "The kids came out ready to play and it was nice to see coming off a tough loss a week ago. They practiced well and it showed here on Friday night. We decided that this was going to be the start of our second season and they showed that they were committed to that. It was a good step."
The Rockets win, combined with an Enterprise loss to Heppner assured them the No. 3 spot in the BMC and will give them another shot at the playoffs. While they will not host in the opening round for the second year in a row, there still is hope that the seniors have not seen their last game in friendly confines.
"I don't want it to be my last game at home," Allen said. "We're all determined to kick the (butts) of whoever we face in the first round and Weston-McEwen."
Irrigon 0 0 0 0 - 0
Pilot Rock 14 14 7 0 - 35
PR - Travis Copeland 3 run (Tanner Mitchell kick), 10:16
PR - Chance Bandy 6 run (Mitchell kick), 9:06
PR - Bandy 4 run (pass failed), 7:23
PR - Dylan Cutler 31 pass from Bandy (Bandy run), 2:45
PR - Kris Snodgrass 1 run (Mitchell kick), 5:27
RUSHING - Irrigon (36-57): Jesus Munoz 10-34; James Munkers 9-24. Pilot Rock (34-240): Travis Copeland 16-133; Chance Bandy 9-79.
PASSING - Irrigon (3-10-1, 7, 0 TD's): Dustin Osborne 2-8-1, 12, 0 TD's. Pilot Rock (8-18-0, 149, 1 TD's): Bandy 8-18-0, 149 yards, 1 TD's.
RECEIVING - Irrigon (3-7): Tyler Carrol 1-6; Jesus Munoz 1-6. Pilot Rock (8-149): Dylan Cutler 4-83; Jeremiah Grosjacque 2-24.