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High-powered Rangers clicking on all cylinders

Dufur running back Tabor McLaughlin hustles past a defender  in a 1A football contest played earlier this season against Lowell. Friday in Ione, the No. 7-ranked Rangers reeled off 383 yards of offense in a 50-14 victory.

Photo by Derek Wiley
Dufur running back Tabor McLaughlin hustles past a defender in a 1A football contest played earlier this season against Lowell. Friday in Ione, the No. 7-ranked Rangers reeled off 383 yards of offense in a 50-14 victory.



Finally healthy for the first time all season, the No. 7-ranked Dufur Ranger football team used two touchdowns each from Kolbe Bales and Hagen Pence, added a punt return by Bailey Keever and a defensive score from TJ Kennedy to defeat Ione 50-14 in a Big Sky Conference tussle Friday in Ione.

It was good to have all of their components back on the field for head coach Jack Henderson, but the win solidified Dufur in third place and the final playoff berth.

“Our guys came out ready to play. We ran the ball well and executed offensively,” Henderson said. “Hagen ran the ball really well and Bailey just made so many things happen for us like he always does. That’s what he brings to the table. Kolbe was back and he had some great catches there in the first quarter. It was good to have them all together. For sure, we got to show up better and we got to get more consistent in things, but it was certainly good to have them all back.”

In the opening quarter, the Bales and Keever connection was working seamlessly in the passing game, as the duo hit twice on scoring plays, the first from 11 yards out and the second from 30 yards out, as the Rangers were ahead 12-0 entering the second period.

Keever had a 79-yard punt return and Pence added a one-yard plunge, with two-point conversions hit on both of those scores to give Dufur a 28-0 cushion.

Ione returned a kickoff late in the second quarter and crept to within a 28-8 deficit at halftime.

With the game still close, Dufur was able to slam the door shut on any comeback thoughts, as Keever had a 31-yard scoring run, pence hit the end zone from 45 yards away and Kennedy added his fumble recovery for a touchdown.

Dufur hit on 4 of 7 point-after conversions, three by Pence and one from Tabor McLaughlin, and the offense racked up 383 yards, 276 coming through the running game.

Pence led all running backs with 152 yards on 18 carries, McLaughlin added 72 yards on nine carries and Keever went for 52 yards on three rushes.

Keever completed 4 for 8 for 107 yards with two touchdowns to Bales, who had two grabs for 41 yards.

Curtis Crawford tacked on two catches for 66 yards.

Always the perfectionist, Henderson still sees a lot of areas offensively his team needs to clean up with the playoffs nearing.

Dufur puts its 11th-ranked scoring offense on the field next Friday at 7 p.m. on senior night against Mitchell-Spray-Wheeler.

“At times, it seemed like offense was disjointed and stuff, we had pass protection issues and other things going on,” Henderson said. “We had some deep plays and we did some good things. We were back to being the Rangers that make big plays when they mattered most.”



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