Cascade fended off a furious second-half Scappoose rally as senior running back Garrett Coffey scored on a 3-yard touchdown run with 1:03 to play and another score in the final minute to stave off Scappoose 47-34 Friday at Federico Field.
Coffey finished with an astounding 296 yards on 52 carries, to go along with four touchdowns, to lead the No. 5 Cougars (1-0) in the upset of the No. 3 Indians (0-1).
“I think it was a good opener,” Coffey said. “It’s always good to get the W, but I think we still have a lot to improve. We had some penalties at times, and I think if we didn’t have those penalties, it would have helped out a lot. We’ll probably be running for that Monday in practice, but we just have some guys who are new this year who are playing in their first game and they had some nerves. As we go on, though, we’ll get those nerves out. We definitely had a good game, though.”
Coffey said he didn’t think he was going to carry the ball as many times as he did. He thought quarterback John Shirmer (8-for-16 passing for 125 yards and two touchdowns) would throw the ball more than his 16 attempted passes. However, it became clear as the game went on that Cascade’s offensive line and Coffey’s running ability was too much for Scappoose.
“It just seemed like they couldn’t stop the run,” Coffey said. “Our line — Aiden Littau, Malachi Gonzalez and Cody Teal — was just killing it. They were unstoppable and creating huge holes … Toward the end of the game, we were calling our plays out loud that we were going to run and (Scappoose) knew exactly where we were going, but they couldn’t stop it.”
The Cougars held a 28-6 lead early in the third quarter, but Indians rallied as they scored four times — highlighted by touchdown runs of 77 and 80 yards by Braden Clark — to tie the game 34-34 with 7:34 remaining. The Cougars, however, used nearly the rest of the clock before Coffey scored with a little more than a minute to play. Scappoose attempted one more rally, but Cascade’s Tristan Combs recovered a fumble with 28 seconds remaining and ran it back for a 39 yard score.
The game was a bit of a redemption for the Cougars, who finished 8-2 last year. The team to beat Cascade? It was Scappoose, which earned a 54-30 home win early in the season and followed it up with a 20-7 road win in the state quarterfinals.
Among the players, Coffey, who rushed 22 times for 118 yards and a touchdown in the quarterfinals game last year against the Indians, said the Cougars had not forgotten about the two losses last season to Scappoose.
“We have definitely been counting it down since last year’s game,” he said. “Some of our friends even had a countdown thing they put on their phones.”
Cascade coach Steve Turner said the losses to Scappoose last year weren’t addressed by coaches leading up to Friday’s game.
“We never talked about it,” he said. “Never. As far as we, the coaches, were concerned, it was just another game and you just don’t want to put too much pressure on these kids. Our guys came out ready to play, though.”
The Cougars raced out a 15-point halftime lead against the Indians. The Cougars scored on three of their four first-half possessions, thanks to a 17-yard touchdown pass from Shirmer to Michael Biddington, a 15-yard touchdown run by Coffey and a 1-yard touchdown run by Coffey with 22 seconds left in the opening half. Scappoose’s lone score came in the second quarter when quarterback Robert Lohman hit Brennen McNabb for a 26-yard touchdown pass.
Coffey was the driving offensive force for the Cougars as they jumped out to the lead. During a span that stretched over the second and third quarters, a Coffey rushing play accounted for 19 of Cascade’s 23 plays, culminating in a 3-yard touchdown run with 7:07 remaining in the third quarter.
With Cascade seemingly in control with a 28-6 lead and a Scappoose offense that was struggling, the Indians put together two scores to change the tide of the game. After Lohhman scored on a 9-yard touchdown run up the middle, a turnover on Cascade’s ensuing possession provided the Indians with a boost of confidence. Scappoose took advantage of the turnover as Gus Nelson hauled in a 6-yard touchdown pass from Lohman on fourth down to cut the Cascade lead to 28-20.
After a 52-yard touchdown reception by Biddington, Clark took control for the Indians as he reeled off touchdown runs of 80 and 77 yards before Coffey’s score with 1:03 to play and Combs’ fumble recovery for a touchdown.
Coffey pointed to a key play that likely saved the win for the Cougars. On third down, Shirmer hit senior receiver Cameron Molan for a 13-yard pass. Molan bobbled it, but held on to the ball to convert a key third down. The catch set up Coffey’s final score for the Cougars.
“If he wouldn’t have had that catch, I don’t know if we would have won that game,” he said. “It was on third and long and, honestly, if he wouldn’t have caught that, we might not have pulled it off. That’s what kept us going and it was probably one of the biggest plays all night.”
Turner said he felt the Cougars are deep at several positions, which meant that his team could relentlessly run the ball. The plan worked in the first half, for the most part, but when Scappoose’s offense got hot in the second half, the game turned.
“Our idea was to get in as many plays as we could and wear them down and we did that in the first half,” he said. “But then that momentum changed, so we didn’t have the ball in our hands and so we couldn’t do what we wanted to do.”