The Astoria Fishermen showed that they can be unstoppable at times. At least when they have to be.
In a game that came down to three make-or-break plays in the final minute, the Fishermen made all three, resulting in an 8-7 win at Stayton in nonleague football action Friday night.
“This was a great high school football game,” said Astoria coach Howard Rub. “I thought both teams displayed great sportsmanship. (The Eagles) run a class program. It was the kind of game where it’s a shame someone has to be on the losing side of the scoreboard.”
Held scoreless for 47 minutes, Astoria saved its best for last to win their third game of the season.
Stayton scored its only touchdown of the night with 6:24 left in the third quarter, a 2-yard run by Easton Hughes.
The Fishermen followed with two drives that ended at their own 30 and Stayton’s 37-yard line.
Stayton was forced to punt on its first series of the fourth quarter, giving Astoria one final chance.
Starting at their own 11-yard line, Astoria had back-to-back runs of 17 yards each from Tucker Golightly and Luke Cummings, before the drive seemed to stall at their own 44.
Faced with a third-and-13, Astoria quarterback Rocky Rub found Cummings for a 36-yard pass to the Stayton 8-yard line. A fumble by Cummings was recovered by teammate Trey Woodrich.
“I’m especially proud of the grit and heart our kids showed,” coach Rub said. “We put together a six-minute drive starting from our own 11-yard line. We had a huge conversion on third and long, where Trey Woodrich made one of the best hustle plays I’ve ever seen, jumping on our fumble at the end of that play.”
The next three plays went nowhere, setting the Fishermen up with a fourth-and-goal from the nine with just over a minute remaining.
From there, Rub found Mikai Tapec at the goal line, and the transfer from Tillamook took it into the end zone for Astoria’s first points of the night.
Going for the win, the Fishermen — after a false start penalty — went for two from the 8-yard line, and Rub’s fade pass to Cummings in the corner of the end zone gave Astoria the lead and the win.
Coach Rub was “proud of the offensive line doing their job on that drive, and it was great to see Mikai break out with a huge catch on the slant on the fourth-and-goal. Total team effort … can not say enough about that.”
He added, “Coach (Randy) Nyquist is one of the best coaches in the history of Oregon high school football,” Rub said. “So it was no surprise that it was difficult to win any real field position after our opening drive, and it is no surprise his defense did a solid job taking away some of the things we hoped to establish offensively on the perimeter.”
The victory sets up a Friday showdown with Banks at CMH Field that could ultimately decide the Cowapa League championship. Game time is 7 p.m.