When you’re coming off a 40-0 loss to your rivals the week before, you’ll take any win, any way you can get it.
And that’s pretty much how the Astoria Fishermen squeaked out a 7-0 victory Friday night over Tillamook, in Cowapa League football action at CMH Field.
The Fishermen were outgained by more than 100 yards (283 to 166), and Astoria had just nine first downs for the game — but for the second time this season, Astoria won a game with a single score, a 1-yard run by Trey Hageman on a fourth-down play in the second quarter.
And even that was tough, as the Cheesemakers had stopped two previous runs from the 1-yard line.
But, a win’s a win. Astoria was playing without two key starters, and the defending Cowapa League champions still managed to keep their league title and playoff hopes alive, with a big showdown Thursday at Banks. The Braves will be coming off a 51-49 loss to Scappoose.
“It was a good bounce back win,” Astoria coach Howard Rub said of Friday’s effort. “It gave us the feeling that we can compete each week. And that’s big, with every league game being so important. It’s a five-game season, and hopefully we’ve still got enough left to where we can get ourselves qualified (for the postseason).”
The Fishermen played their “bend-but-don’t-break” defense, giving up a couple long runs, but ultimately keeping the Cheesemakers out of the end zone. Tillamook also missed a 30-yard field goal early in the second quarter.
Astoria had just three offensive possessions in the first half, with no first downs on its first and third series.
But on Astoria’s second possession, the Fishermen took over at their own 20, and sparked by 12-yard runs from Tyler Ranta and Hageman, a 28-yard scamper by Ranta and a face mask penalty on Tillamook, Astoria had a first-and-goal at the 8-yard line.
Hageman — who started at quarterback in place of Tristin Wallace — scored on a 1-yard keeper with 6:22 left in the first half. Astoria was also missing starting receiver/defensive back Justin Villa.
Villa is expected back this week, while Wallace is done for the season, with a torn ACL.
Tillamook drove to the Astoria 25 on its final drive of the first half, before two holding penalties pushed the ball back to the 50.
The Cheesemakers stopped Astoria on a fourth down play on the first series of the third quarter, and forced the Fishermen to punt on their final four possessions.
Tillamook took over at the Astoria 46 with 1:52 left in the game, but there were no miracle Hail Marys for the Cheesemakers, as the final pass from sophomore Chad Werner (in for starter Matt Silveira, who left the game with an injury in the second quarter) was intercepted by Astoria’s Ian Hunt in the closing seconds.
Astoria’s nine first downs were “nine more than we had the week before,” Rub said, adding. “I feel pretty good with how our defense has played all year. Good defense is a key to keeping your offense on the field.”
The Fishermen are in a three-way tie with Banks and Seaside for second place in the Cowapa standings.