by: CORY MIMMS - Payton Dobbs heads for the end zone.The stands swayed with black and orange. The typical Friday-night crowd at Heckard Field, yes, but amped up from the wave of team spirit that had continuously grown all week long, a wave that crested earlier in the day during the homecoming assembly and finally erupted as the Indians charged onto the field to face the Estacada Rangers.

In the stands, people with painted faces screamed and waved banners. Just below the bleachers, the cheerleading squad cranked the chaos into cheers as Molalla kicked.

On the Rangers’ opening possession, Indians Defensive Coordinator Paul Roher called a good scheme, and the Indians stopped the Rangers at midfield.

Molalla’s offense couldn't capitalize on the turnover as Estacada’s defense quickly shut down everything the Indians tried.

In the last four minutes of the first quarter, the Rangers scored twice. Though some might expect a 14-0 Estacada lead to deflate the Indians’ spirit, the opposite was true. The crowd only grew louder as they knew their boys’ fortitude would keep them battling their rivals.

So far this year, the Indians haven’t been a great first-quarter team, but they do seem to gain steam as the game progresses. Seeing Head Coach Kaleb Mitchell keep his cool on the sidelines as the Indians floundered, you immediately get the sense that he knows they'll pick things up in the second quarter and throughout the game.

As the first wound down, September mizzle began blowing at the Indians’ backs, seemingly pushing them along. And in that misty rain, quarterback Austin Alexander found what he had been looking for. Devon Schaefer was open. Alexander let it fly and Schaefer snatched it out the air and got Molalla on the board.

The point after failed—a trend that led Molalla to lose.

In the second quarter, the Indians scored three times. The first came early, with Austin Salley nabbing a pass from Alexander. Estacada blocked the point-after kick attempt.

Next, Alexander zeroed in on Payton Dobbs, who zipped up the sideline and got the lead for Molalla, 18-14. And again, the point-after kick was no good.

Trailing by four, the Rangers battled back. Scrambling for a fumble on the four-yard line, Estacada’s Willie Blankenship scooped the ball and got into the endzone. The Rangers, now up 20-18 and seeing the Indians inability to convert in the kicking game, decided to forego the PAT and go for two. The Indians played it perfectly and denied the Rangers the two-point conversion.

With little more than a minute left in the half, Alexander again found Dobbs open. The two-point conversion run by Isaiah Bilbrey was short.

The score was 24-20, the Indians’ lead, at halftime.

The third quarter was played to a stalemate, as was most of the fourth. Neither the Rangers nor the Indians could find the end zone. Molalla’s homecoming victory seemed secure with their four-point lead.

Then, with the clock slipping toward the game’s last minute, Estacada got into the red zone. Alec Barstad had a nifty nine yard run that found the end zone. The point after was good, bumping the Rangers to a 27-24 lead.

Molalla has to feel like they left this win on the table, knowing that with converted PATs and two-point conversions they could’ve gotten 28 or more points.