Spartans start strong, fade to finish in loss to Scappoose
Hillsboro delivered the first blows, but Scappoose fought back and won on points in what was an action-packed slugfest of a high school football game this past Friday night, Sept. 20, at Scappoose High School.
The Spartans led 14-0 after one quarter before relenting to the Indians' pressure, dropping their first true road game 47-30.
Scappoose senior quarterback Jakobi Kessi bounced back from two early interceptions — one a pick-six — to throw for two touchdowns and run for two more.
The Indians' persistent ground game between the tackles of a solid offensive line also was a huge factor, as were some momentum-changing stops by the defense.
"It wasn't a good way to start. We made a lot of mistakes early. Fumbled a kickoff, had penalties," Scappoose coach Sean McNabb said. "But I liked the way our guys stayed confident, stayed poised. Nobody panicked, nobody got rattled. Everybody felt like we could come back and win the game."
Scappoose improved to 3-0, with eyes on next Friday's trip to and showdown with Pendleton (2-1), which beat the Indians twice last season, including at Round-Up Stadium in the Class 5A quarterfinals.
"Being in a situation like, behind early like that, is going to help us down the stretch," McNabb said.
Hillsboro, coming off a 54-14 home win over St. Helens, was potent offensively again Friday, but couldn't keep pace with the No. 7-ranked Indians.
"You've got to learn to step on the gas and go," Hillsboro coach Dan Shuff said. "We told our guys that before the game, that Scappoose is a good team and is well-coached."
The Indians "fought back tonight, and we didn't handle it as well as they did," Shuff said. "They're physical, they pushed us around, and we didn't have an answer for it. Can't play like that if we want to move forward."
The Spartans (1-2) looked capable of an upset when they scored twice in the first 6:24.
Hillsboro took a 7-0 lead on senior QB Kane Kianus' 10-yard flip to 6-6 senior tight end Nate Smith and went up 14-0 when senior defensive back Blake Bodrak-Crandall jumped a bubble screen and returned his interception some 60 yards for a score.
"I was watching film on those bubbles a lot, and I was getting ready for it," Bodrak-Crandall said. "They ran it on me once, and then I tightened up at the line of scrimmage and got there quicker."
"It was a quick screen, and you have to do a good job of blocking on those, and we didn't," McNabb said.
The Indians put together a 14-play, 70-yard drive, though, and capped it with Kessi's 1-yard run early in the second quarter.
And, after senior Connor Maclachlan dashed 37 yards north-south up the middle for another TD, the teams were tied 14-14 with 7:55 left in the half.
A few minutes later, Hillsboro muffed a punt at midfield, and Scappoose recovered the football and scored in eight plays, with senior Josh Rice scampering 19 yards to the end zone. That gave the Indians a 21-14 lead.
The Scappoose defense promptly got the ball back for the offense, and sophomore QB Luke McNabb came in to engineer a two-minute drill that upped the margin. With 19 seconds left in the second quarter, McNabb rolled right, and wide receiver Thomas Greiner dipped behind his defender and hauled in a 29-yard TD pass for a 27-14 advantage.
Scappoose struck first in the second half. Kessi barged seven yards for a touchdown, and then he hit senior wideout Drake Kramer with an 80-yard bomb for a 40-14 lead at the 3:08 mark of the third quarter.
Kessi passed 3 yards to senior Blake Morkert midway through the fourth quarter for Scappoose's final touchdown and a 47-22 lead.
Hillsboro's closing touchdowns came on senior Thomas Johnson's 39-yard cutback romp late in the third quarter and a 34-yard Kianus-to-senior Scott Ellis pass with 4:30 remaining.
Kessi, in his second year starting at quarterback and safety, said the unexpected slow start against the Spartans "if anything, got us more focused and more ready to play. They weren't driving on us or anything, and we knew we could drive the ball, so we felt like we had the upper hand.
Despite the loss, the Spartans were left optimistic and contemplating another tough assignment next week when they will play host to No. 6-ranked Wilsonville (2-1) on Friday night at Hare Field.
"I think we just got a little ahead of ourselves, started to think we were going to win the game," Bodrak-Crandall said. "Everyone started to not take their assignments very well. But I'm happy with what our guys did against their big line. Could have done better, but we did a good job."
The game's first touchdown came on a mini-go route by Smith.
"We had single coverage on him, so we felt pretty confident. He went up and got the ball at the high point, made a great play," Kianus said.
"I saw the safety (Kessi) come over, but Kane threw a great ball, right to the back of the end zone and to where only I could get it," Smith said. "I caught it and brought it down."
Hillsboro didn't get another offensive touchdown for nearly 2 1/2 quarters, however, and by then the Spartans were down by 28 points.
"We just didn't handle adversity very well," Kianus said. "We got gassed. We got banged up. We didn't run as well as we should have."
Smith said the Spartans should take from the game "that we played hard, but that we've got to fight. When adversity hit, we just crumbled down and didn't do anything about it. We've got to come back and fight next week."
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