Rayon-Wilder elevates Warriors over Eagles

After their first loss of the season to Elkton, North Douglas has been steamrolling their opponents to the tune of 65 points per game in their three-game winning streak.

Unfortunately, Yoncalla hasn’t been playing the same tune as they had lost 3 consecutive games for various reasons, whether it be a COVID-related forfeit or a struggling offense.

Last year North Douglas and Yoncalla combined their programs and found success, but this year are standing on different sidelines.

Since 2015, North Douglas has had a 4-1 record against their rival to the North. Unfortunately, for Yoncalla and their crew, not much would change Friday night thanks to the huge performance of North Douglas senior Palu Rayon-Wilder.

Rayon-Wilder ran for a total of 303 yards and accounted for six touchdowns in the Warriors 47-13 win.

“Now that they are full bore and have all their kids, I think they (North Douglas) are the best team in the league and probably a top five team in the state,” said Yoncalla Coach Matt Bragg.

North Douglas came out hot as their first play on offense as Rayon-Wilder found a crease and ran for a gain of 23-yards, putting the ball deep into the Yoncalla side of the field. Two plays later Rayon-Wilder ran in the ball from 13 yards out for the first Warriors score (7-0 ND).

On Yoncalla’s first possession, the North Douglas defense stuffed them quickly. However, the Warriors fumbled the ball, leading to some early Eagle momentum.

Yoncalla’s Noah Leary broke off a 15-yard run to the Eagles own 40-yard line, but they would not be able to move the ball after that. North Douglas got the stop on fourth down and Rayon-Wilder ran the ball two plays in a row for a 30- yard Warrior score (13-0 ND). 

On the next Eagle offensive series quarterback Gabe Martinez was able to find Ashton Hardy, who made a great catch for a 26-yard gain moving the ball down to the North Douglas 28-yard line. But again, the Warrior defense led by junior Ray Gerrad would not surrender a first quarter touchdown as they stopped Yoncalla again.

With the Warriors offense coming back onto the field with only a few seconds left in the first quarter quarterback Wyatt Reed handed the ball off to Rayon-Wilder who found an open lane and was off to the races scoring his third touchdown in the first quarter (20-0 ND).

“Palu, I thought, did a great job of knowing where he could get his yards. I wondered how he would do against a bigger lineup, and he did well,” said North Douglas Coach JJ Mast. “I think he (Rayon-Wilder) probably played his best game tonight.”

After forcing an Eagle turnover on downs North Douglas got the ball back and Gerrard ran for a gain of 32 down to the Yoncalla 27. But two plays later, Yoncalla forced another fumble, getting the ball back on their own side of the field. 

Martinez was able to find his big receiver Hardy twice on the drive for two gains of 20 and 23 yards. With 30 seconds left in the half Martinez looked to make another pass but was intercepted by Rayon-Wilder as the half came to a close and North Douglas still firmly in control (20-0 ND). 

Coming out of the locker room North Douglas would not miss a beat as Rayon-Wilder ran for a 50-yard score in their first offensive possession in the second half (27-0 ND). Yoncalla was able to get on the scoreboard later in the quarter as Noah Leary ran the ball three times on the Eagles drive for a total of 52 yards and a score (27-6 ND). 

North Douglas and Yoncalla traded defensive stops as the Warriors got the ball back with under a minute left in the third quarter and Rayon-Wilder ran in another score from 47 yards putting a stranglehold on the game (34-6 ND). 

Rayon-Wilder found the endzone one more time in the fourth quarter increasing the Warrior lead (41-6 ND). 

Yoncalla was able to add another score as they were set up well from a Leary kickoff return deep into North Douglas territory allowing Hardy to cash in a touchdown (41-13 ND). 

North Douglas’ Wyatt Reed had the last score of the evening as he ran in a 47-yard score (47-13 ND). 

“It’s bittersweet you want to win the rivalry game, but we got to know those coaches we are five miles away,” said North Douglas coach Mast. “Then coaching with them last year you build a little bit more of a bond. We know a lot of their kids too and you just want them to feel good at the same time too.” 

North Douglas has now won four in a row as they find themselves near the top of the league standings. They travel to Riddle today (Oct. 7).

Yoncalla will also hit the road today as they have a good opportunity to get a win against Gilchrest.

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