TOLEDO — Top-ranked Toledo suffered its first loss of the 2019 football season at the hands of the visiting Bandon Tigers Friday night, 20-17, later falling to No. 4 in a state 2A coaches poll.
Turnovers, weather, a key ejection and more proved too many obstacles for the Boomers to overcome in their homecoming game, issues they will have to rise above as they face their next tough-as-nails opponents tonight (Friday), No. 4 Glide away, and No. 1 Coquille Nov. 1 at home.
“Bandon came at us on a mission, and they had the resolve to come out, hit us in the mouth and keep coming,” Coach Jeff Taylor explained.
The night started out well for Toledo on their second drive, scoring on an 11-yard crossing pattern from junior quarterback Jaxon Rozewski to senior Conner Marchant, who had four catches for 78 yards and one score in the contest. Bandon shifted the momentum by going on a 14-play, 72-yard drive that ended with a one-yard touchdown.
“That drive was tough,” said senior Kyle Hayner, arguing the play before the Bandon TD appeared to end in a disputed fumble that the refs rejected. “They got some key first downs and then the fumble, and we thought we stopped them, and then they actually scored. It was rough.”
With the scored tied at 7-7, Toledo began its next drive on its own 25-yard line. On the first play of the drive, Toledo fumbled the handoff, and Bandon recovered deep in Boomer territory. Three plays later, Bandon had a 14-7 lead.
On the next drive, Toledo junior running back Donovan Villanueva was ejected from the game for bumping an official.
“We didn’t see it,” explained Taylor. “There was a late hit on the quarterback infraction we were watching and did not see what happened. It also is not on film. It was rough then, and it is rough going forward for us. But we gotta’ have a next-man-up mentality.”
Villanueva will miss the next game per OSAA rules that state an ejected player must sit out the following game after the call. Villanueva currently is the state leader in all-purpose yards after seven games with 1,143 yards for non-quarterbacks, and is fifth in the state in touchdowns with 11.
“It is rough for a kid to have to deal with,” Taylor remarked. “He is a kid who made a mistake, but it is something we will teach him to handle with character and integrity.”
Bandon would eventually take their 14-7 lead into halftime. After the homecoming festivities, Bandon and Toledo would exchange punts throughout the third stanza until a shanked punt by Toledo gave Bandon another short-field drive, starting on the Toledo 28 yard line. Six plays later, Bandon quarterback Braydon Frietag hit sophomore Chris Butler for an 18-yard touchdown to put their lead at 20-7.
“Short fields are something that are difficult to deal with as a defense — the margin for error is slim,” Taylor reasoned.
On the next drive, Rozewski connected with senior Cody Nicholson on a 59-yard wheel route to make the score 20-15 with 11:02 remaining in the fourth quarter. After the game, Rozewski reflected on the moment.
“At that point, I thought we were going to come back and take the game,” he said.
The following kickoff, Toledo recovered a fumble to set up a go-ahead drive. Six plays later, Rozewski threw a high, arcing, deep ball in the direction of Marchant that was contested and picked off by Bandon defender Braydon Frietag.
“Just a little short on that one — I wish I could have that one back,” Rozewski remembered.
Bandon got the ball on the 16-yard line and three plays later, fumbled into the end zone. This was a highly contested play; a Bandon player seemed to have fallen on the ball but it quickly squirted out when a pile of Boomers landed on the pigskin thinking they took the lead with the recovery.
After a long deliberation by the officials and an initial signal of a touchback, it was decided to give Toledo a safety, making the score 20-17. With just over five minutes to play, the Boomers had the ball on the Bandon 36 yard line. The drive culminated on a fourth down and goal on the one yard line. Toledo attempted a quarterback sneak over the top of the goal line but came up inches short.
“Maybe we should have kicked it,” Taylor said. “We were talking about what to do, and I just decided ‘let’s go win this game now’ instead of tying the game and going to OT.”
Bandon took the ball with just under five minutes to go and gained two first downs and eventually punted with a minute remaining. Toledo’s third play was a screen pass that saw Toledo back Kyle Hayner catch and immediately get hit, forcing Toledo’s fourth turnover of the game and sealing the contest for the visiting Tigers.
“We knew that if we just kept our heads and kept fighting we could come away with the win,” asserted Bandon Head Coach Aaron Frietag.
“It is humbling. We had a lot of things go against us. It is a hard loss to swallow. But we are past it and we are on to Glide,” said Taylor. “We have a lot of season ahead of us and we plan to make the best of it.”
Toledo goes to non-league opponent, No. 11 Glide (4-3 overall), this Friday and then a showdown with new No. 1 Coquille (6-1, 3-0 Sunset) at Toledo on Friday Nov. 1.
The loss to Bandon put Coquille atop the 2A District 4 Sunset League, with Toledo 2nd, Bandon 3rd, Reedsport )3-4, 1-2) 3rd, Reedsport 4th (3-4, 1-2 Sunset) and winless Gold Beach 5th (0-7, 0-2 Sunset).
“Rankings, wins, losses they don’t matter anyway in the grand scheme of things,” Taylor concluded. “We are here to build men. Trials and tribulations like this build men, not winning every game. I am excited what is ahead of us.”