Cascade Christian football players had an extra bounce in their stride, along with bling around their necks, on Monday after claiming the Class 3A...
ASHLAND — He couldn't even watch it.
Mason Costantino had a potential game-tying extra point blocked five minutes earlier, missed a field goal attempt in the first half, and now Ashland coach Charlie Hall had him kicking for the game — for the season — with 23 seconds left.
So can you blame him if his eyes were hidden with the Grizzlies trailing Wilsonville 14-13 before the 27-yard attempt even left the ground?
Obviously, there was never any doubt.
"I've never been that nervous in my life," Costantino said after sending the kick straight through the uprights to make the Grizzlies 16-14 winners in the first round of the Class 5A state playoffs.
"You always see those kickers on TV in that situation, and feel bad for them after they miss a big one," Costantino added. "I never thought I would be the one in that situation, but I definitely didn't want to be the guy everyone felt sorry for."
Costantino's kick earned Ashland the right to play two-time defending 5A champion West Albany next Friday.
Quarterback Jake Scarminach rushed for two scores and 125 yards and Costantino, who was the leading receiver in the Southern Sky Conference this season, paced Ashland with five catches for 43 yards.
Down 14-7 and looking for their fourth comeback win of the season, Lee Dodds gave the Grizzlies new life with six minutes remaining when he recovered a fumble at Wilsonville's 20-yard line.
Hall put the ball in Scarminach's hands, calling two straight quarterback keepers — the second an 11-yard run with 5:27 on the clock. The Wildcats continued to cling to the lead, though, as the extra point was blocked.
Wilsonville's ensuing drive was predictable. The Wildcats ran the ball at Ashland all game, totaling only seven completed passes while taking to the ground 49 times, and did was expected with the game on the line.
They had good field position to start the drive after Ashland's failed onside kick attempt, and five plays into the drive had a first down at the Grizzly 21 with 2:13 left.
But two stops and a Wilsonville penalty later, the stage was set for Ashland junior lineman Christian Ostmo to save the season for a second straight week. Last week, it was Ostmo blocking an extra point that would have eliminated the Grizzlies from the playoff picture.
This time, Wilsonville quarterback Brennen Wolvert released an errant toss backward and, when two Wildcats slipped in the mud attempting to change directions and dive on the ball, Ostmo did it again.
He pounced on the ball at Ashland's 42, giving the Grizzlies life one last time with 1:56 remaining.
"I was in the right place at the right time," Ostmo said. "This team never gives up, we always keep fighting, and we were fighting our butts off to give the offense a chance that whole possession."
Scarminach then completed four passes to three different receivers, the final connection over the middle to Costantino at the 10-yard line, but the Grizzlies faced fourth down after Scarminach was stuffed at the line on two straight keepers, setting up the field goal.
"We took our chances in the end zone and had some troubles, but obviously we didn't want to get shut out right there," Hall said. "I couldn't watch it, but I saw the crowd go nuts and that's when I knew it was the right move."
Scarminach finished 12-for-21 with 96 yards passing, but the defense kept Ashland in it. Clint Murphy led the Grizzlies with nine tackles, and as the punter also recovered two bouncing snaps in the fourth quarter that were potentially disastrous before getting the kicks away.
Wilsonville receiver Michael Mackelvie got the Wildcats on the board with a 30-yard catch to tie the game with seven seconds to play in the first half. Wilsonville's second score came on a goal-line run from Julian Escobedo, who ran a game-high 22 times for 49 yards.
Ashland (5-6) had 232 total yards to Wilsonville's 226, but on 21 less plays.