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Crook County High School Cowboys take to the air but fall to the Rangers, 52-34

LON AUSTIN - Brayden Duke, 25, pushes for more yardage during the Cowboys' 52-34 loss to the third-ranked Estacada Rangers at Ward Rhoden Stadium Friday night.

The Crook County High School football team played third-ranked Estacada tough the entire night, but came out on the short end of a 52-34 game against the Rangers.

"It's a loss, but you went toe to toe right there and gave them everything they want," Cowboy head coach Pard Smith told his team following the game. "Other people in this state have a recipe for how to beat them because of you guys, so that says something. Hold your heads high. I'm happy. What a way to leave a legacy."

The game was a stark contrast in style. Although they threw the ball effectively at times, the Rangers were mostly content to pound the ball up the middle on the ground. Meanwhile, the Cowboys seldom ran, passing nearly every offensive down they had.

Crook County won the coin toss, but deferred until the second half. Tucker Jackson took the opening kickoff from the Cowboys and returned it from about the 20 all the way to the Crook County 44. Estacada quarterback Cory James then took the first play from scrimmage and raced up the middle for 19 yards and a first down. Caleb McDonald then took the ball and gained 12 yards to set up a first down on the 13-yard line. Four plays later, the Rangers scored on a rare pass from James to Waylon Riedel. Riedel carried the ball across the goal line for the two-point conversion, and the Rangers had a quick 8-0 lead.

The Cowboys did not take long to answer. Kyree Willis returned the ensuing kick to the Crook County 38 yard-line. Then, on their first play from scrimmage, the Cowboys ran a trick play. Quarterback Palmer Smith handed the ball to running back Garrett Cobb, who started around right end, then handed the ball to wide receiver Eddie Freauff, who was running the opposite direction. Freauff lateraled the ball to Smith, who threw the ball downfield to Cobb, who had raced downfield after handing the ball to Freauff. Cobb was wide open on the play, and eventually scored. The kick by Gabe Love was good, and with 9:11 still remaining in the first quarter, the Cowboys trailed just 8-7.

Estacada took the kickoff and drove the ball straight down the field, all on the ground, finally scoring on a three-yard run by Riedel. Riedel ran the two-point conversion across the goal line and the Rangers led 16-7 with 4:37 remaining in the first quarter.

The Cowboys tried to respond, moving the ball all the way down to the Estacada 30-yard line, where the quarter ended.

The Crook County drive was almost entirely in the air, with Smith completing eight consecutive passes on the drive.

On the first play of the second quarter, the Cowboys ran a counter to Kaleb Goozee for a short gain. However, on the next play, disaster struck. The Crook County receiver slipped and fell in the end zone, and James took advantage, intercepting the Smith pass, and returning the ball to the Crook County 35-yard line.

The Rangers drove the ball down the field with the run, then throwing an 18-yard pass from James to Jacob Sittner for a touchdown. The two-point conversion run by Riedel was stopped short, but Estacada still led 22-7 with 9:23 remaining in the second quarter.

The Cowboys went to the air on their next possession, but once again, Smith was intercepted, killing the drive.

Estacada immediately drove the ball down the field, but the Cowboy defense stiffened, stopping James on fourth-and-long on the 20.

It didn't take the Cowboys long to score. Five consecutive passes later, Smith hit Joshua Knight on a 13-yard touchdown strike. The two-point conversion attempt failed, but the Cowboys were back in the game trailing 22-13 with just 1:09 left in the first half.

However, once again, the Rangers answered, with Riedel scoring from six yards out with less than 10 seconds left in the half. Riedel converted the two-point conversion and the Rangers led 30-13.

Crook County attempted another trick play on the final play of the first half, with Cobb lateraling the ball to Willis, who threw an interception to James, his second of the game, ending the half.

Eddie Freauff returned the ball to the 27 to open the second half, but the Cowboys were unable to move and were forced to punt.

Six plays later, James scampered 53 yards for a touchdown. The two-point conversion attempt by Riedel was good and the Rangers led 38-13.

Crook County was unable to move the ball and punted. Then, the two teams gave the ball up on downs near midfield, giving the ball back to the Rangers on their own 48.

Neither team scored again in the third quarter. However, on the first play of the fourth, Jackson carried the ball 19 yards for a touchdown for the Rangers. McDonald kicked the extra point and the Rangers held a 45-13 lead.

Crook County responded as Eddie Freauff returned the ensuing kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown. The kick by Love was good and the Cowboys trailed 45-20.

Estacada answered with another score as James Durand punched it in from four yards out. McDonald's kick was good, and the Rangers led 52-20.

But, Crook County refused to fold, scoring on a six-yard pass from Smith to Willis. The kick by Love was good making the score 52-27 with under two minutes remaining.

Garrett Cobb then forced an Estacada fumble, their lone turnover of the game.

With eight seconds left in the game, the Cowboys scored again, this time on a 13-yard pass from Smith to Knight. It took five attempts, due to penalties, but eventually Love's kick was good and the Cowboys trailed 52-34.

The Cowboys then attempted an onside kick, but Estacada recovered the ball, then took a knee to run out the clock. Despite the loss, the 34 points was the most points the 9-0 Rangers have given up all year. Despite possibly their best offensive game of the year, the Cowboys still lost, falling to 2-7 on the season and 1-4 in conference play.

Smith completed 27 of 38 passes for 305 yards, but the Cowboys gained just two yards on the ground.

Meanwhile, Estacada ran the ball 35 times for 406 yards, and gained 118 yards through the air.

Estacada will host Stayton in the first round of the state playoff, while the Cowboy season is over.

Following the game, the Cowboys were disappointed, but the coaching staff was pleased with the effort.

"We scraped and clawed and stayed in the fight," coach Smith said. "You take back a couple of the big plays they had on either side of the ball and give us those big plays and maybe it's a different football game. That's the trouble you run up against in high school football — and especially in the last couple years here — is you get better every week and just progress and progress and by the time we are clicking on all cylinders we are playing our last football game. That's unfortunate, but hopefully this is a building block moving forward into seasons to come."

Crook County's seniors were also looking to the future.

"I just want to say to all you young guys, don't try to be like us, be better than us," Willis told the team following the game. "It's your turn to shine. You need to improve yourself."

Willis added that, although the loss was disappointing, he was pleased with the team's effort.

"We lost, but we showed our underclassmen that if you stay in the fight you are going to win games like this," he said. "You are going to stay in games. I appreciate the love from everyone here. The love I've been given from this town, I really appreciate it."

Estacada 52, Crook County 34

Estacada – 16 14 15 7 52

Crook County – 7 6 7 14 – 34

E – Cory James 13 yard pass to Waylon Riedel. Riedel run.

CC – Palmer Smith 62 yard pass to Garrett Cobb, kick Gabe Love good.

E – Riedel 3 yard run, Riedel run.

E – James 18 yard pass to Jacob Sittner, Riedel run failed.

CC – Smith 13 yard pass to Joshua Knight, pass failed.

E – Riedel 6 yard run, Riedel run.

E – James 53 yard run, Riedel run.

CC – Eddie Freauff 90-yard kick off return, Love kick good.

E – James Durand 4 yard run, Caleb McDonald kick good.

CC – Smith 6 yard pass to Willis, Love kick good.

CC – Smith 13 yard pass to Knight. Love kick good.

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