Gorillas wear down Oroville in final non-league tune-up

Tanner Smith (24) escapes the grasp of Davenports’s Sam Graber during the first half of Oroville’s loss to the Gorillas on Friday, Sept. 15. Brent Baker / staff photo

OROVILLE – Oroville’s football team scored first and last against visiting Davenport on Friday, Sept. 15.

But what happened in the middle turned out to be the deciding factor as the Gorillas’ pulled away to a 41-14 victory in the Hornets’ final non-conference game before Central Washington 2B League play begins this week.

The Gorillas didn’t take their first lead until one minute remaining in the first half, and the Hornets trailed 20-7 heading to the fourth quarter.

But Davenport’s tightly-packed double-wing offense finally wore down the Hornets, who had trouble getting off the field quickly against the Gorilla’s methodical approach all game. Davenport, which had been getting about four to five yards per play through much of the game, broke off several big runs against the tired Oroville defense in the fourth quarter.

The Hornets, who through the first two games had struggled offensively, looked to have things clicking as sophomore Dustin Nigg ran for 49 yards in the first half, using his speed to bounce outside for yardage. That helped keep the pressure off quarterback Luke Kindred, who completed his first two passes, and gave Tanner Smith room to run as his 19-yard jaunt set up the Hornets’ first score early in the second quarter.

Logan Mills’ 1-yard plunge finished off a 49-yard drive, and Nigg’s PAT gave the Hornets a 7-0 lead.

Derik Oliver scored the first of his four touchdowns with five minutes left in the half. The Hornet’s next possession started well enough as Kindred broke off a 20-yard run, but ended badly with a partially blocked punt setting up the Gorillas’ go-ahead score.

It went from bad to worse as Nigg was injured early in the second half and returned only to kick the Hornets’ extra point in the final minutes of the fourth quarter.

The Hornets were outgained 308-170 for the game, but actually held the advantage in yards gained at the half, 118-113. 

Nigg finished as the team’s leading rusher with 46 yards on eight carries. Kindred, who was sacked four times in the second half and running for his life on most every pass play, finished 6-of-17 for 46 yards and one interception, with Smith catching four balls for 41 yards.

Oliver ran for 159 yards on 18 carries while Wyatt Evers added 96 yards on four carries. The two combined for 168 yards on 10 carries in the second half, including three touchdown runs of 30 yards or more.

Smith’s 74-yard punt return for a touchdown provided the Hornets’ second score with three minutes remaining.

Defensively,  Angel Camacho was in on 10 tackles, Smith was in on eight, Mills was in on six, Jake Scott had six tackles and a sack, and Boone McKinney recovered a fumble.

The Hornets (1-2) open CWL play Friday, Sept. 21, at home against Kittitas (0-3). Despite their record, the Hornets should be contenders for a playoff spot as they are one of just two of the seven CWL teams to have won a non-league game in the season’s first three weeks. White Swan (2-1) is the other; the CWL as a league is just 3-16 against out-of-conference opponents.

Jake Scott (64) gets after Davenport quarterback Nolan Lilje. Scott was able to get to Lilje for a sack on the play.

Tanner Smith (24) escapes the grasp of Davenports’s Sam Graber during the first half of Oroville’s loss to the Gorillas on Friday, Sept. 15.

Oroville’s Angel Camacho (32) and Boone McKinney (52) gang up on Davenport’s Warrin Johnson, but it wasn’t enough for the Hornets as they fell to the Gorillas 41-14.