REDMOND — The final regular season home game went exactly as the first one did for the Oregon High Desert Storm — with a win over the defending American West Football Conference champions, the Idaho Horsemen.
Wide out Kris Lewis hauled in two touchdowns and the defense pitched a shutout in the second half to secure a much-needed 33-23 victory Saturday night at the First Interstate Bank Center in the closing weeks of the regular season.
The Storm remain the only team to beat the Horsemen in the league’s two-year history — and they have now done it twice.
“They came out and played hard. This was a big, big win for us,” said Storm coach Keith Evans. “This was a real emotional win for us. We needed to have this one. The team played lights out and they came with their A-game.”
The regular-season home finale was viewed as a must-win game for the Storm.
“It feels great to finally show these guys how to handle adversity when it shows up,” said Storm quarterback Jorge Reyna. “This game showed how to rally together and come out victorious.”
The Storm already had a playoff spot clinched, but Saturday’s victory keeps them in contention for hosting the AWFC championship game (the Storm went 6-0 at home this season). A loss would have assured that to win a championship, they would have to play on the road, where they have lost three of four.
A week earlier, the Storm suffered a devastating defeat at the Tri-City (Wash.) Rush, giving up 73 points in the loss. The defense responded with one of its better performances of the season, giving up only 23 points — well below the Horsemen’s season average of 62 points per game.
“They wrapped up and tackled,” Evans said. “They played to their abilities. They really brought it tonight. I was proud of the guys.”
The Storm will close out the regular season this Friday on the road against the Yakima Canines.