Cascade Christian unable to slow down Siuslaw
Trailing by five entering the fourth quarter Friday night, Cascade Christian had hopes of returning the favor and doing to Siuslaw what the Vikings did to the Challengers on the first day of October.
Instead, the Challengers just couldn’t slow down the powerful Vikings.
For Cascade Christian, there would be no flipping of this script in the Class 3A quarterfinals in Florence, as the top-seeded Vikings ended the No. 8-seed Challengers’ season with a 28-23 win to advance to the state semifinals.
“It was a heck of a battle. It was just a great battle with two really good teams,” Cascade Christian head coach Jon Gettman said. “It was a physical battle. There were no punts in the game. They moved it on us, and we were able to move it on them. It came down to a fourth down at the end of the first half — we didn’t get that and it changed it. It’s a game of inches, and we came up short.”
It was the second time that the two teams have played this season, with Siuslaw winning the first meeting Oct, 1, 38-34, thanks to a late touchdown pass with 37 seconds to go.
But unlike six weeks ago, Siuslaw didn’t need late-game heroics to pick up the win.
The Vikings (10-0) wrapped up the win with a long drive to take a 28-17 lead with 7:42 to go. Braydon Thornton, Siuslaw’s standout receiver, recovered a fumble in the end zone after running back Camp Lacouture took the initial carry from the 6-yard line.
Cascade Christian cut the deficit to 28-23 with 3:15 remaining on Triston Wallace’s 9-yard touchdown run. The Challengers went for the two-point try in an attempt to cut it to a three-point game where a field goal would tie it, but quarterback Keith Reed was sacked on the play.
Siuslaw ran out the clock from there — which was rather fitting considering that the Vikings didn’t attempt a pass in the second half, with quarterback Beau Erickson going just 2-for-5 for 22 yards in the opening two quarters.
All but 22 of the Vikings’ 319 yards on offense came via their rushing attack. Erickson carried the ball 16 times for 123 yards and a pair of touchdowns, while Lacouture had 96 yards on 19 carries and a touchdown.
“They didn’t get into their single back stuff. They stayed in double tight, and they were having success running the ball,” Gettman said. “We couldn’t stop them. We just flat couldn’t stop it. That’s what it came down to — they just beat us up front. You go back and watch film and look at exactly what it was, but they just beat us up front.”
Cascade Christian held the lead twice Friday night. The Challengers took a 3-0 lead after their first drive of the game lasted nearly 6 1/2 minutes and was capped by JT Knoblach-Scott’s 29-yard field goal.
Siuslaw responded all of two plays later, as Erickson ripped off a 53-yard touchdown run down the Vikings’ sideline. But the Challengers went back in front 47 seconds into the second quarter, taking a 10-8 lead on Cole Shields’ 2-yard TD run.
Erickson’s 4-yard touchdown run with just over four minutes left in the first half put the Vikings ahead 14-10 going into halftime.
Cascade Christian’s next possession ended without points, as the Siuslaw defense got the first big stop of the night by forcing the Challengers to turn it over on downs.
Despite it, Gettman liked where his team was at.
“I felt great (going into halftime). I felt like it was there and we got the looks,” Gettman said. “I felt confident and like we were just a play away from making it. Tyler Almasy had two big catches, Brody Sample had a big catch, Keith Reed made some big throws on some long-down distances, so I thought our kids responded every time. They responded and came back and scored.”
Siuslaw chewed up 6 1/2 minutes on the first drive of the second half, extending its lead to 22-10 on Lacouture’s 4-yard run and successful score on the two-point conversion.
But the Challengers cut it to a one-possession game once again at 22-17 on Reed’s 2-yard quarterback sneak for a touchdown.
Reed finished 6-of-13 for 116 yards, as the Challengers were able to find more success through the air in the second half. Almasy caught three of those passes for a team-best 57 yards.
Wallace carried the ball 16 times for 114 yards and a touchdown while also recording a team-high eight tackles on defense. Reed ran for 54 yards and a touchdown.
“I really don’t think (the rain) caused problems,” Gettman said. “The field was wet, but it wasn’t like you were slipping and sliding in a mud bath or anything like that. It was more about, ‘Hey, they’re coming up (on defense) and we need to take some shots down the field.’ I think that was more of the case than anything else — we had the opportunity, so let’s take it.”
Cascade Christian37 7 6—23
Siuslaw86 8 6—28
CC — 29 FG Knoblach-Scott
S — Erickson 53 run (Erickson run)
CC — Shields 2 run (Knoblach-Scott kick)
S — Erickson 4 run (Erickson pass fail)
S — Lacouture 4 run (Lacouture run)
CC — Reed 2 run (Knoblach-Scott kick)
S — Thornton 0 fumble recovery (I. Sissel run fail)
CC — Wallace 9 run (Reed pass fail)
Reach reporter Danny Penza at 541-776-4469 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @penzatopaper.