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Rangers make noise late, falter 26-14 against Mazama after 'little mistakes' Friday, Sept. 2.

PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER KEIZUR - Estacada senior Tucker Jackson runs the ball in a 26-14 season opening loss to Mazama. When two semifinalist football programs square off, it is all the little mistakes that sink your chances to win.

Early in the fourth quarter, Estacada football was finding signs of life facing a big deficit against visiting Mazama. Senior quarterback Cory James and running back Waylon Riedel were trading off long runs, with the offensive line opening up big holes to dart through.

Down 26-8, and without the clock on their side, the Rangers finally broke through as James ripped of a 25-yard scamper into the endzone, cutting into the lead and setting up a potential salvaging of the season opener. But a chop-block wiped away the touchdown, and after backing up 15 yards, Estacada ended up turning the ball over on downs.

"We killed ourselves in a lot of spots tonight," said Coach Andy Mott.

PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER KEIZUR - Estacada football lost their 2022 season opener 26-14 Friday, Sept. 2.  Estacada couldn't get out of its own way Friday evening, Sept. 2. From untimely turnovers and broken coverage on kickoff in the first half, to a rash of penalties in the second, the Rangers (0-1) lost 26-14 to the Vikings (1-0).

"I told them after the game that this isn't the end, it's the beginning," Mott said. "We need to learn and grow and move forward from this result."

Everything was going the Rangers' way early. James made a play on defense, snagging an interception on the first drive of the game as the Vikings attempted to convert a third-and-long. Estacada then drove it down field with Riedel dragging defenders into the end zone for the first score. Riedel followed that up with a two-point conversion in the "diesel" lineup — which has direct snaps to the powerful runner.

PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER KEIZUR - Rangers senior running back Waylon Riedel was difficult to bring down.  But on the subsequent kickoff Mazama senior receiver Tyler Aguiar ran it down to the five-yard line, with the Vikings scoring three plays later with a run up the middle.

Estacada's defense again found itself trying to protect a short field after an interception was thrown by James, giving Mazama the ball on the 30-yard line. Junior quarterback Tyson Van Gastel rolled out and tossed the ball into the end zone to Aguiar, who made a leaping catch that took full advantage of his towering 6-foot-3 frame. The Vikings pulled ahead 12-8 — after failing on both two-point conversions — and never ended up ceding the lead.

"When you give a team like that a short field they are going to take advantage every time," Mott said.

PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER KEIZUR - Senior quarterback Cory James was the leading rusher for Estacada in the first game.  The defense was stout when it got a fair shot. The Rangers did a good job slowing down Mazama's threatening read-option attack, especially in the first half. Late in the game legs looked to be a little tired, especially as Mazama resorted to runs up the middle to kill the clock.

In the second quarter Estacada nearly retook the lead on a scrambling toss from James on 4th and 11, but senior James Durand couldn't snag the catch at the goal line. Mazama scored one final time, a 17-yard scamper from Van Gastel, before heading into halftime with another interception against James.

In the second half, the Vikings caught the Eagles flat-footed late in the third quarter. While in the midst of running it up the middle to steadily advance and run out the clock, Mazama ripped the ball out with a play action pass, caught for a 17-yard touchdown by Aguiar.

Estacada scored late on a two-yard run up the middle by James, and then nearly got on the end of an onside kick attempt that just squirted out of bounds.

"In the second half we started to find that momentum, getting downhill on our runs," Mott said. "It just came too late."

Mazama was no slouch to start 2022. Last season the Vikings went 9-3, also losing in the semifinals to eventual 4A state champion Marshfield on the other side of the bracket from the Rangers.

PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER KEIZUR - Senior running back James Durand. And though the loss stung, there was plenty of joy in the air as the stands were packed with fans to visit the newly renovated Buzz Randall Field, which got a turf facelift over the summer. Now the field won't devolve into a muddy swamp as the weather turns later in the season. It got so bad last year that Estacada had to give up homefield advantage in the playoffs and move a game to Sandy High School.

"Really glad the community could come out and celebrate this new field with us," Mott said.

Next on the schedule for Estacada is a road trip to Scappoose Friday, Sept. 9.

PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER KEIZUR - Estacada football lost their 2022 season opener 26-14 Friday, Sept. 2.

PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER KEIZUR - Senior quarterback Cory James was the leading rusher for Estacada in the first game.

PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER KEIZUR - Estacada football lost their 2022 season opener 26-14 Friday, Sept. 2.

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