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Rams knock Crater for loop

CENTRAL POINT -- With two starting receivers sidelined with injuries, Dustin Hewitt was the main man for the Central Catholic Rams Friday night at Dutch Meyer Field.

Hewitt knew it, and he delivered. The 5-foot-11, 170-pound senior raced 81 yards with a punt return, ran back an interception 13 yards for a score and added a 4-yard touchdown reception as the Rams walloped Crater 35-0 in the season-opener for both teams, I've had two touchdowns in a game before, but never three, Hewitt said. This feels great.

Central Catholic quarterback Mike Harrington, the younger brother of University of Oregon backup QB Joey Harrington, also had a big night. He completed 17 of 22 passes for 130 yards and two TDs.

Crater, meanwhile, never got untracked offensively, finishing with just 109 yards in total offense. Quarterback P.J. Price struggled throughout, completing just 4 of 15 for 20 yards. Three of his passes were intercepted, two of them for touchdowns.

To make matters worse, tailback Scott Toney -- the Comets' only threat against a rugged Rams' defense -- had to leave the game in the second half with a hip-pointer.

Toney carried 26 times for 88 hard-earned yards.

We knew going in that they were a big, strong, physical football team, Crater coach Randy Heath said. But I was hoping we'd be more competitive.

We're not going to win very many games if we don't step up our level of play another notch or two, he added.

The Comets' defense played respectably, but Hewitt burned them with the big play. He scored the game's first touchdown when he fielded a Brent Foster punt at his own 21-yard line, spun around a would-be tackler at the 30 and then raced up the left sideline to the end zone at the 9:27 mark of the first period.

Hewitt and his teammates got so excited that they were whistled for an excessive celebration penalty, and Hewitt's subsequent extra-point attempt from 35 yards sailed wide left.

It hardly mattered.

I got tangled up with one of their guys right after I caught the ball, but I managed to stay on my feet and keep going, Hewitt said. And once I got to the corner I knew I was gone.

The score remained 6-0 until the final three minutes of the first half when Price threw an ill-advised pass from his own end zone that Central Catholic lineman Matt Mattila picked off at the 7-yard line and waltzed in.

Harrington added the 2-point conversion on a quarterback sneak that gave the Rams a 14-0 halftime lead.

He (Price) had a guy hanging all over him and he should have just thrown the ball away, Heath said.

Things went from bad to worse for Price midway through the third period when he threw the ball directly into the arms of Hewitt, who cut in front of Crater receiver P.J. Pardee and dashed 18 yards to paydirt.

We saw on film that they liked to throw that quick slant, Hewitt said. I read it and just went for it.

Trailing 21-0 at that point, the Comets finally got a break when Hewitt fumbled away a punt at the Central Catholic 41.

But four straight runs by Toney netted only nine yards, and the Rams took over on downs at their own 32.

From there, they went on their only sustained drive of the night, marching 68 yards on eight plays with Harrington and Hewitt hooking up for a 4-yard touchdown.

The Rams finished third in the Mount Hood League last season with a 7-2 record, but were crushed 50-20 by Churchill in the first round of the state playoffs.

Since that humiliating defeat, the team committed itself to the weight room and to the 1999 season, second-year coach Joe Bushman said.

The kids have been in the weight room since January, Bushman said. They didn't want to get out-muscled like that again.

Added Harrington: Central (Catholic) doesn't get much respect up north and we're out to change that. We just clobbered a team in the Southern (Oregon) Conference. This is a good start.

Harrington was further motivated by a comment he saw on the Internet that labeled him as slow-footed, weak-armed and living off your brother's reputation.

That got me a little fired up, he said.