Indians fight back in home opener
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 last Friday night at Scappoose.
The Indians trailed 14-0 after one quarter before winning 47-30 in their home opener.
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 seventh-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.
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.
"We knew we needed to be us, to be more physical. We were really looking forward to playing Hillsboro. We knew they were a really good team with really good athletes."
Kessi said the fan support helped, and he called his offensive line "the best in the state."
"So we just dialed in and made adjustments and played our game," he said.
"It was really tough, but we all came back together," Scappoose senior lineman Tommy McKedy said. "Quarterbacks played great. Offensive line got back to doing what we knew we should be doing. Wide receivers played amazing. Defense was off the charts. So overall the team did great."
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