Playing in their home away from home, the Banks Braves dodged a big upset in a Cowapa League football opener Friday night.

Make that a not-so-big upset. The Astoria Fishermen continue to close the gap on the Braves — it just doesn’t show on the scoreboard.

It did at halftime, which had the Fishermen leading their longtime rivals, 17-14.

But it took less than two minutes for Banks to regain the lead in the third quarter, and the Braves cruised from there for a 42-17 victory.

The Braves have played twice at CMH Field this year, defeating Astoria 49-18 back in March. The teams did not meet in 2020, while Banks beat Astoria 49-7 in 2019, also at CMH Field (the pandemic forced Banks to play an all-road schedule last spring).

A 25-yard field goal by Astoria’s Trey Woodrich with less than a minute remaining in the first half gave the Fishermen their halftime lead.

Banks opened the second half with a three-play, 48-yard drive to take a 21-17 lead.

The Braves went 51 yards in four plays on their next possession, then 45 yards in six plays for a 35-17 advantage.

Astoria had big nights from junior running back Luke Cummings, who sprinted 80 yards for a touchdown on the first play from scrimmage and finished with 113 yards rushing; senior quarterback Rocky Rub completed his first six passes and finished 9-of-20 for 181 yards; and senior tight end Colton McMaster caught five passes for 133 yards, including a 61-yard score that had Astoria in front 14-7.

A big defensive effort by the Fishermen kept the Braves at bay in the first half, as did five penalties on Banks for 45 yards. The Braves were flagged eight times for 80 yards.

Banks quarterback Cooper Gobel completed 13-of-17 passes for 202 yards (5-for-5 with two touchdowns in the second half); and senior Jamar Flippen had just 13 yards rushing in the first half, and finished with 82 yards and two touchdowns, before leaving with a leg injury.

Astoria is scheduled to play at Tillamook this week. Banks was scheduled to play for a third straight season at Valley Catholic, but that game was canceled.

Gulls, Warriors, Loggers post easy wins

The rest of the night in Clatsop County football went as expected, with all teams scoring lopsided wins. Seaside romped over Valley Catholic, 69-0 (Gulls led 42-0 after one quarter); Warrenton cruised to a 41-0 win over Clatskanie, which was coming off a 41-0 loss to Knappa; and the Loggers topped Nestucca, 47-16. Knappa’s game this week at Neah-Kah-Nie has been canceled.

Gary Henley is a sports reporter for The Astorian. Contact him at 503-861-8493 or ghenley@dailyastorian.com.