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Workhorse McNabb, a big pass play from Kessi to Larson, solid defense and two field goals from sophomore McDonald lift Indians to 20-14 win over North Bend

PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP PHOTO: JOHN BREWINGTON - Scappoose wide receiver Gavin Larson is behind the secondary on his way to an 80-yard touchdown on a reception from Jakobi Kessi during Friday night's 20-14 victory over North Bend.SCAPPOOSE — Scappoose and North Bend went predictably toe-to-toe in a main event fight for playoff survival on Friday night.

The Indians made a few more key plays — and got two big kicks off the toe of a sophomore soccer player — to win 20-14 and notch their first playoff victory ever in Class 5A.

Now the former 4A Indians are headed to Pendleton for a rematch of a regular-season league game — and this time it's for a berth in the state semifinals.

Pendleton advanced Friday by beating Crescent Valley, 27-14, at Pendleton. The Buckaroos are 9-1 and ranked third in the state.

Scappoose, which lost 47-27 at home to Pendleton on Sept. 21, is ranked sixth in 5A and is 8-2.

North Bend's season came to an end Friday with the 10th-ranked Bulldogs at 7-3.

North Bend was competitive till the end at Scappoose, and the Bulldogs were in it until Indians senior cornerback Mason Smiens intercepted a long, fourth-and-6 pass at the Scappoose 33-yard-line with 32 seconds remaining.

"I didn't even really know where the receiver was, but I saw the ball floating up in the air and I was like, 'I pray to God I catch this thing and he doesn't come up and catch it,'" Smiens said.

Smiens fell to the turf with the pick, got up and was swarmed by a throng of happy teammates on the home team's sideline.

The Indians finally were able to exhale and know they had pulled off their first postseason victory since moving up this year from 4A.

"I didn't know who was coming after me and pounding on me, it was crazy," Smiens said of the greeting he got along the Indians bench.

Most of the night, it was a battle of teams trying to establish their will on the other side with their run games. But neither defense buckled much.

"Our team played great, their team played great, it was just a battle all night," Scappoose junior quarterback Jakobi Kessi said. "They're really big and physical up front. Both defenses did a really good job. They were a great team to play against. They obviously watched their film. They did so many things right with their coaches and everything. They were in the right spot for I'd say 70 percent of our plays.

"But it was our mentality that I think made the difference. We wanted to win. We wanted to move on.

"It was a little closer than we'd have liked, but a win's a win."

As usual, Scappoose senior running back/receiver Connor McNabb was a huge factor. He not only scored the Indians' first touchdown, but he was a workhorse, toting the ball 28 times for 300 yards and making three catches for 65 yards.

But the difference, mathematically, was the right toe of Cade McDonald. He kicked field goals of 25 yards in the first quarter and 21 yards in the fourth quarter, along with two extra-points.

Each offense scored two touchdowns, and North Bend just missed a 37-yard field-goal try wide left in the third quarter that would have tied the score at 17-17.

McDonald, listed at 5-8 and 150 pounds, turned out for football for the first time this year, with Scappoose in desperate need of a kicker.

"He had the balls to come out and kick for us," Kessi said. "We didn't really know him, but we're starting to love him."

McDonald thought about trying football a year earlier, but he didn't get onto the field until this summer, when he began attempting some kicks before the start of fall camp. He continued to play varsity soccer throughout the fall sports season on days when the Indians didn't have a football game.

"I've been a soccer player ever since I can remember. I'm definitely not a football player," McDonald said, pausing and adding, "I guess I am now."

Scappoose coach Sean McNabb called him one.

"He's done a great job for us," the coach said. "To put on pads and have a rush coming at you … I'm really impressed with how cool and poised he stays. He's money. I've seen him make tackles on kickoffs, too. He's not scared to put his face in there."

Scappoose began Friday's game marching from its 19-yard line to the North Bend 4, but the Indians couldn't get into the end zone. That seemed a little disappointing at the time, but McDonald put the first points on the board with his 25-yarder out of Connor McNabb's hold.

The kick barely made it over the crossbar.

"That was on me," McDonald said. "I wasn't in the right mental state. It wasn't pretty, but it made it through."

Coach McNabb gladly took whatever the Indians could get out of that initial drive.

"If you can come away with points, you're putting pressure on the other team," he said. "It's nice to have that (kicking game) in your arsenal."

Another big score came on the final play of the first quarter. The Indians, who like to get into hurry-up mode, rushed to the line of scrimmage for a second-and-4 play at their 40 with the clocking ticking down. Kessi was able to take the snap with two seconds left and hand off to Connor McNabb. He went up the middle and got cleanly through the front seven. Then it was a footrace, and the track standout made it all the way to the end zone for a 60-yard touchdown run and 10-0 lead.

"When Connor popped that one and got into open space, nobody was going to catch him," Coach McNabb said.

"We were trying to catch them off-guard," Kessi said of the Bulldogs defense and of running that play so quickly. "It was a great call by the coaches. We caught them (the Bulldogs) while they were trying to check off, and Connor busted a great run like he always does."

The Scappoose offense had trouble staying on the field otherwise in the first half, though. Kessi had to punt three times, a high number for the Indians.

"Our defense played really well tonight, but we didn't help them out in the first half with the offense going three-and-out and three-and-out and three-and-out," Coach McNabb said. "Instead of third-and-short or fourth-and-short, we were in third-and-medium or fourth-and-medium. We weren't executing that well.

"North Bend was doing a good job of attacking the box and kind of shutting down our inside run game."

Eventually, North Bend was able to score, too. The Bulldogs went 67 yards in five plays. They hit on a 13-yard TD pass from sophomore QB Ian Spalding, who had come on for sophomore starter Coleman Compton, to soph wideout Bridger Holmes.

"You keep giving the ball back to a good team, and they're going to score," Coach McNabb said. "And North Bend's a great program. They won a state title a couple of years ago. They've been in a lot of big games. They're not going to roll over and quit, they're going to fight harder and battle hard, and they did.

"It was a slugfest."

It got even more so in the second half.

North Bend, down 10-7 at halftime, took the lead on the first possession of the third quarter.

The Bulldogs drove 71 yards in 12 plays — 11 runs and then a 13-yard touchdown pass from Spalding to junior wide receiver Garrison Mateski.

But Scappoose quickly got back on top. After a touchback on the kickoff, the Indians picked up zero yards with an incompletion and outside run. Now it was third-and-10, and Kessi went to one of the team's trusted pass patterns, a quick slant to 6-6 senior Gavin Larson.

The lanky Larson made the catch, did his usual quick spin, and slipped through two defenders who both failed to get more than a whisper of a touch on him. Larson sprinted the final 70 yards or so, untouched. The 80-yard touchdown pass gave Scappoose a 17-14 lead with 5:52 left in the third quarter.

"We lined up trips (three wide receivers) on the other side of the field and isolated Gavin on the right," Coach McNabb said. "Jakobi made a great throw. You catch it and get that foot in the ground to turn and go vertical, and there's nobody there to tackle you, and then he's got the speed to run away from you."

Larson did have his assigned cornerback on him, and a North Bend safety came over into the vicinity of the catch, but they didn't clamp down fast enough on him.

"I cut in a little early on the slant and saw I had some space," Larson said. "One guy brushed by me real quick and didn't get a hold of me. I just looked forward and saw the end zone and took off.

"I didn't know I could run that fast."

After North Bend's missed field goal, the Bulldogs made a key turnover the next time they had a ball. Scappoose junior cornerback Thomas Greiner leaped for an interception at the North Bend 30.

That led to Scappoose adding its final three points on McDonald's 21-yarder, which cleared the bar easily at the 8:51 mark of the fourth quarter.

"Pounded that one through," McDonald said.

McDonald said he tries to be as repetitive as possible as a place-kicker.

"You just get into a certain state of mind, and nothing else matters except getting the ball through the two posts," he said. "My nerves were fine. I don't feel anything. I just try to numb myself. I just visualize it going through.

"It's a lot of pressure, but I don't look at the score during the game, I treat every field goal the same."

This was the highlight of his football career so far, he said.

"There was a lot on the line," he said. "We came out, we fought, we won."

The Indians finished with 532 yards of total offense to the Bulldogs' 249.

Scappoose ran 52 times for 363 yards. Kessi was 10 of 20 passing for 169 yards, with one interception.

North Bend carried the ball 39 times for 140 yards and completed 10 of 26 passes for 109 yards, with two interceptions.

Scappoose and North Bend had had football playoff battles in previous years, when both were in 4A. So it was no surprise to see this one unfold so tensely and evenly.

Smiens said the Indians also were fueled by comments they heard coming from Bulldog country.

"They were talking trash all week, saying they don't like our grass field and how we're a ghetto city and ghetto school," he said. "We came back and said, 'Talk's cheap, we're a hard-hitting team, we play physical, come ready.'"

Larson noted how the Indians have been working hard for many months for just this moment.

"It goes back to all the hard work in the summer, just with the goal of getting to the postseason," he said. "And for it to finally come and for us to fight and pull it off, it just feels amazing. It was so much fun to play."

  • SCORING SUMMARY

    North Bend 0 7 7 0 — 14

    Scappoose 10 0 7 3 — 20

    FIRST QUARTER

    SC — Cade McDonald 25 FG, 10:06

    SC — Connor McNabb 60 run (McDonald kick), :00

    SECOND QUARTER

    NB — Bridger Holmes 13 pass from Ian Spalding (Nathan Monohon kick), 3:01

    THIRD QUARTER

    NB — Garrison Mateski 13 pass from Spalding (Monohon kick), 6:39

    SC — Gavin Larson 80 pass from Jakobi Kessi (McDonald kick), 5:52

    FOURTH QUARTER

    SC — McDonald 21 FG

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