CORBETT, Ore. — Rainier’s football team relied on its traditional ‘Three yards and a clump of mud’ approach on a rainy Friday night to shut out Corbett 14-0 in a battle of unbeaten teams.
After a scoreless first half, the Columbians simplified the game plan and ran everything up the middle, relying on its advantage along the line of scrimmage to push Corbett back and back and back some more.
It started on the opening drive of the second half when junior running back Brandon Issacson took a handoff and powered 21 yards through the middle for a first down that erased a Rainier holding penalty from the previous play. He came off the field screaming and pounding his chest.
“We were getting down on ourselves, and I had to find a way to get us back into the game,” Issacson said. “It took an attitude adjustment.”
Rainier used its loaded backfield throughout the game, lining up four backs behind the line of scrimmage, basically daring Corbett to bring down whoever was handed the ball.
Next up, it was sophomore quarterback Kenney Tripp keeping the ball for an 11-yard gain to move the chains once again.
Corbett’s defense stiffened near midfield when Deegan Davis grabbed a hold of Tripp’s jersey and tossed him out of bounds short of the marker to bring up fourth-and-3.
Rainier kept its offense on the field and put the ball into the hands of Issacson, who powered through the middle enough to pick up the first down.
And he wasn’t done.
He kept his legs churning and emerged from a pile of red shirts, breaking loose for a 33-yard touchdown and the first points of the game.
After suffering a three-and-out, a punt almost turned out to be Corbett’s biggest play of the night.
Garrett Brindell’s kick came up short and glanced off a Rainier player, leaving the ball dangerously sitting in the mud for a few precious seconds before Tripp dived face first to make the recovery.
“It was a slippery night, but I saw the ball right there in front of my and I dove on it,” Tripp said. “Corbett was a confident team that had played a great first half, so making that play was huge.”
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Rainier maintained possession and Tripp came up big again, running over the left side to convert third-and-2. That set the stage for Issacson to peel off another big run this time going 52 yards untouched over the right side. Tripp added the two-point conversion to put Rainier in charge 14-0 late in the third quarter.
The Cardinals recovered a fumble near midfield with 9:07 to play, but Rainier’s defense slammed the door shut.
Corbett’s next play from scrimmage saw its quarterback turn to toss the ball only to find nothing but muddy field in front of him. He was forced to hold onto the ball and absorb a crunching hit by Rainier’s Easton Crape for a 4-yard loss.
Facing third-and-long, the Cardinals fired a deep ball over the right side only to see it over shoot the intended receiver by five yards.
It was the only time either side put the ball in the air in the second half.
It also marked Corbett’s final play of the game.
Brindell punted a ball that rolled inside Rainier’s 10-yard line, but Corbett’s defense was unable to hold.
Issacson and Tripp each carried through the middle to convert a pair of third-down plays, and the Columbians were able to drain the final 7:52 off the clock.
“That’s Rainier football. Power running and making the other team tired. That’s what we do,” Tripp said.
Rainier made a pair of trips deep into Corbett territory late in the first half only to be stopped on fourth down each time.
Friday’s 14-point win was the closest game so far this season for Rainier (4-0), which is ranked No. 2 at the 3A level heading into next Friday’s 7 p.m. rivalry game at Clatskanie (2-2).
“I’m thankful that we got the job done tonight, but we have a lot of work ahead of us heading into Tiger week,” Issacson said.