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Challengers top Gold Beach in key Sunset game

For all the accolades Cascade Christian's offensive playmakers have received — and they are all richly deserved — it was a defensive play that helped turn the tide Saturday night at Dutch Meyer Field in Central Point.

The No. 1-ranked Challengers took a 21-7 lead to open the second half, only to watch sixth-ranked Gold Beach answer with a 52-yard drive of its own in the battle of Sunset League favorites. But just before the visiting Panthers could cut into their deficit, Cascade Christian's Austin Wipf stepped in front of a pass at his own 2-yard line to halt the threat by Gold Beach.

That wound up being the first of three interceptions by Wipf on homecoming night.

The Challengers took over from there, marching 98 yards for another score that all but secured the victory in what ended up being a 35-7 triumph.

The win allowed Cascade Christian (7-0 overall) to solidify its hold on the Sunset League at 5-0, while Gold Beach dropped to 4-1 in league play and 5-2 overall.

The Panthers had won the past two meetings with the Challengers, including a 43-7 romp last year, but couldn't quite keep up with their hosts on Saturday. Cascade Christian totaled 314 yards rushing on 41 carries and tacked on 90 more yards through the air, while limiting Gold Beach to 205 yards of total offense.

Senior Brandon Grissom got the Challengers on the board first in the opening quarter with a 3-yard run, and Tyler Beard converted the first of his five extra-point attempts.

A 2-yard run by Garrett Banks bumped the lead to 14-0 before Gold Beach's Travis Wood raced 73 yards for a second-quarter touchdown that made it 14-7 at intermission.

Tyler Stickler dashed in from the 1-yard line to cap the Challengers' opening drive of the second half and, after Wipf's interception, Jake Gettman capped a 98-yard drive with a 15-yard touchdown pass to Ben Joffer to make it 28-7.

Cameron Tooker carried the ball in from 12 yards out in the fourth quarter to pad the final margin, and Wipf pulled down a pair of late interceptions to deny the Panthers' comeback bid.

Stickler paced the Challengers with 118 yards rushing on 18 carries, while Grissom added 91 yards on 13 carries and Banks chipped in 53 yards on four attempts. Gettman completed 5 of 7 passes for 90 yards, connecting twice apiece with Colton Cochran (53 yards) and Joffer (24 yards).

Joffer also played a big role on defense with nine tackles, while Grissom had five tackles and Cochran added one quarterback sack.

The Panthers managed 176 yards rushing on 36 attempts, led by Wood's seven carries for 92 yards. They completed only 4 of 9 passes for 29 yards.

Cascade Christian, which earned a nonleague win over Gold Beach in 2006, will try to secure its first Sunset League crown in the coming weeks when the Challengers close out the regular season with a home game next Saturday against Reedsport and a road tilt Nov. 6 at Myrtle Point.

At Dutch Meyer Field

Gold Beach 0 7 0 0 —7

Cascade Christian 7 7 7 14 —35

CC — Grissom 3 run (Beard kick)

CC — Banks 2 run (Beard kick)

GB — Wood 73 run (Martin kick)

CC — Stickler 1 run (Beard kick)

CC — Joffer 15 pass from Gettman (Beard kick)

CC — Tooker 12 run (Beard kick)

Reach reporter Kris Henry at 776-4488, or e-mail khenry@mailtribune.com

Cascade Christian's Brandon Grissom (33) and Wes Litton (25) take down Gold Beach's Hugo Rosa during their game at Dutch Meyer Field in Central Point on Saturday night. - Larry Stauth, Jr.