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Challengers eke out win over Knights

CENTRAL POINT — Mikel Mann took a deep breath as the last of his teammates trickled out of the Cascade Christian locker room.

Cascade Christian's new quarterback and his squad had just survived seven second-half fumbles — including three that were lost — to defeat Class 4A North Valley, 22-14, in a nonconference game at Dutch Meyer Stadium on Friday.

Mann — who played fullback last year — paused afterward, rubbed his throwing arm, and smiled.

"I'm not satisfied at all," the senior said. "But a win feels pretty good."

Running back Tyler Stickler rushed for 74 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries and Wyatt Sosey made two touchdown catches for the Challengers, who bounced back after losing to Mazama, 10-6, last Friday.

"We are always happy to get a win, but we would like our kids to respond better during the rough times in games," Cascade Christian head coach Jon Gettman said. "And that will come. We are replacing 14 of the 22 starters from last year, so those things will come."

After roaring out to a 20-0 lead, North Valley scored twice to pull within a touchdown by the end of the third quarter.

Mann completed 7 of 10 passes for 98 yards. He had trouble with the exchange from center Daniel Killam and to his running backs at times, but still came up with a few big plays. Mann connected with Sosey on 24- and 16-yard touchdown passes in the first and second quarters to put Cascade Christian ahead, 13-0.

"I was uncomfortable last week getting used to it," Mann said. "I think me and my center are getting our spots down and I felt a lot more comfortable throwing the ball tonight."

Tristan Burke and Dan Anderson both played quarterback for North Valley, which was contained to 42 rushing yards on 37 carries. Anderson found Jeremiah Rusk for a 37-yard TD pass with 7:40 remaining in the third, capping a 10-play, 80-yard drive that saw fullback Dane Dellsite carry the ball five times for 27 yards.

About that time, the Challengers began a stretch of sloppy slip-ups. Cascade Christian's Tyler Beard responded to the Knights' score with a big kickoff return, only to see his team fumble and lose the ball a play later and then again on its next drive. North Valley took advantage of the second turnover, using a 56-yard pass from Anderson to Anthony Monize to set up Dellsite's 2-yard rumble into the end zone.

After two more fumbles to open the fourth, the Challengers' defense shined by stopping the Knights inside their 10 and forcing a safety with 6:17 left in the game. Senior Brock Scott sacked Anderson and Cascade Christian denied Johnson on a deep pass attempt to end the Knights' final drive and retake possession and whittle away the clock.

"We had our shot," North Valley head coach Todd Willaman said. "We just didn't capitalize."

Beard finished with 42 rushing yards on 11 carries for Cascade Christian, which ran the ball 49 times for 156 yards.

Dellsite had 14 carries for 44 yards, while Monize finished with three catches for 77 yards for North Valley (0-2). Jeremiah Rusk made two catches for 41 yards.

Johnson was 5-for-9 passing for 132 yards and a touchdown, while Burke completed 2 of 5 passes for 12 yards.

Cascade Christian beat North Valley, 42-7, last season. Stickler said that just like that game, this year's contest was physical.

"They always send us a message and leave us with bumps and bruises," Stickler said. "That is what we are looking for."

Defensively, Scott led the Challengers with two sacks and added three tackles. Beard and Garrett Banks made nine tackles apiece.

"It is really good to get the win," Sosey said. "But we still have a lot of work to do."

North Valley 0 0 14 0 — 14

Cascade Christian 7 13 0 2 — 22

CC — Sosey 24 pass from Mann (Beard kick)

CC — Sosey 16 pass from Mann (kick failed)

CC — Stickler 8 run (Beard kick)

NV — Rusk 37 pass from Anderson (Benetti kick)

NV — Dellsite 2 run (Benetti kick)

CC — safety

Reach sports reporter Dan Jones at 541-776-4499, or e-mail djones@mailtribune.com