ESTACADA — Estacada did not complete a pass the entire night … but the Rangers apparently didn’t need to, as Estacada’s ground game carried the load in a 30-14 win over Astoria, in a Class 4A Regional Play-in game at Buzz Randall Field.
The season comes to close for the Fishermen (4-5 overall), while Estacada (7-2) advances to the first round of the state playoffs.
Astoria’s defense was in its “bend-but-don’t-break” mode in a low-scoring first half. Estacada’s first four possessions ended with a fumble, two punts and an interception.
Astoria had the only score of the half, as Niko Caruana capped a 14-play, 63-yard march with a 6-yard touchdown run, with 4:33 left in the second quarter. Karsten Johnson ran in the two-point conversion.
Astoria quarterback Trey Hageman highlighted the drive with an 11-yard pass to Ephriam Tice, on a fourth-and-10 play from the Ranger 22.
The 8-0 lead held up through one half, before Estacada scored a tying touchdown and two-point conversion on its first possession of the third quarter.
Astoria responded quickly, driving 69 yards in just eight plays, Hageman scoring on a 23-yard run midway through the third period to give Astoria a 14-8 advantage.
But that’s where the scoring stopped for the Fishermen, and the momentum turned Estacada’s way.
Following a big kick return after the Astoria touchdown, the Rangers scored on the very next play from scrimmage, a 30-yard burst by junior quarterback Nick Keller. The Rangers also missed the point-after kick, and the two teams went to the fourth quarter in a 14-14 tie.
After the Fishermen turned the ball over on downs, Estacada went on a time-consuming, 67-yard drive, capped by a 7-yard run from Wyatt Riedel.
And the Rangers’ ground game picked up steam from there, grinding out a short nine-play drive late in the fourth quarter, ending in a 7-yard touchdown run by Keller, who scored on his third two-point conversion for a 16-point lead.
Astoria’s last drive in the final minute was highlighted by a hook-and-ladder play (Hageman to Johnson to Tice) for a 51-yard gain — but the Fishermen went backwards from there and turned the ball over on downs.
Estacada’s only pass attempt of the night was intercepted by Astoria’s Ebin Hillard.