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Bulldogs' four-game win streak snapped on goal line stand in the final minute

MATT RAWLINGS - Woodburn quarterback R.J. Veliz was responsible for both of the Bulldogs' fourth-quarter touchdowns to keep the team alive, but was stopped at the goal line on a two-point conversation that would have tied the game with 30 left.
The No. 8 Woodburn football team's best start in more than 40 years came to a halt just inches shy of the goal line in the Bulldogs' 14-12 loss to the No. 5 Estacada Rangers on Friday night.

Coming off a 20-point loss to Gladstone in the prior game, it was important for Estacada to have a bounce-back week against Woodburn.

That task would be easier said then done as Woodburn came into Friday's contest undefeated and averaging 35 points per game. The Rangers, however, were up to the challenge.

Estacada's defense held Woodburn scoreless for the first three quarters and made a game-winning stop on a two-point conversion with 30 seconds left to come away with the 14-12 victory on Friday night in the Rangers homecoming game.

The loss snapped Woodburn's first 4-0 start since the 1977 season and sends the Bulldogs heading into this week's homecoming game against The Dalles Riverhawks (1-4, 1-1 Special District 2).

After receiving the opening kickoff, the Rangers began their march down the field and got into Woodburn territory thanks to a 17-yard screen pass from Nick Keller to David Stamm on third-and-15.

Then, a first down run by Gabriel Martinez put Estacada into the red zone.

It looked Estacada turned the ball over on downs when Keller's fourth down pass intended for Kaden Settle fell incomplete, but a pass interference call on Woodburn gave the Rangers another crack at the end zone.

On the very next play, Martinez rumbled through the middle of the Bulldogs defense for a 6-yard score, completing Estacada's drive that took more than six minutes off the clock. Keller ran in the conversion to put Estacada up 8-0.

Although they weren't able to muster up anything on their first drive, Woodburn got the ball back with great field position early in the second quarter after the Rangers faked a punt but couldn't pick up first-down yardage.

RJ Veliz played the first series at quarterback for Woodburn, then was replaced by Nathan Corpuz on the following drive. Corpuz found tight end Chandler Vargas for back-to-back first downs and then got the Bulldogs in the red zone thanks to a pass interference penalty by the Rangers.

But when Woodburn faced fourth-and-6 from the Estacada 12, Vargas caught a pass in the flat from Corpuz and was stopped short of the first down due to a big tackle by Stamm, forcing the Bulldogs to give the ball back.

Despite being deep in their own territory, the Rangers offense seemed to move the ball with ease, both through the air and on the ground. Keller had first down completions to Settle and Stamm while Martinez continued to be the workhorse in the backfield for Estacada.

The drive, however, came to stall inside the red zone. On fourth-and-3, Keller ran an option and appeared to have a first down when the officials signaled the chain gang to move the sticks. But after the ball was measured, it was determined that Keller was short of the line to gain as the Rangers couldn't build on their lead heading into halftime.

MATT RAWLINGS - Woodburn junior Chandler Vargas attempts to elude an Estacada defender in the Bulldogs' 14-12 loss to the Rangers on Friday.
After both teams failed to do anything offensively in the third period, Estacada had the ball near the goal line with a chance to go up by two scores early in the final quarter. But a costly penalty killed the Rangers chances as they were stopped on fourth down at the Woodburn 4-yard line.

"We were actually able to move the ball pretty well, we just couldn't finish off drives," Mott said. "I definitely felt like we left some points on the field, which was frustrating."

With Veliz back at under center, Woodburn finally put together a successful drive, which was capped off by a 16-yard touchdown pass to Luis Rodriguez. However, the Bulldogs couldn't punch in their two-point try and Estacada still held the lead at 8-6.

"I think that kind of woke us up," Mott said. "We knew we needed to respond."

And the Rangers did just that. Big runs by Martinez and Keller helped the Rangers get in scoring position and Martinez finished off the trip with a 5-yard touchdown run to give Estacada the 14-6 lead with under two minutes remaining.

But Woodburn refused to go away as they rattled off a couple big plays to get into scoring position. A 20-yard touchdown pass from Veliz to Elias Barajas with 30 seconds left cut the deficit to 14-12, meaning a successful two-point conversion would tie the game.

On the conversion attempt, Veliz scrambled out of the pocket and looked to take it into the end zone himself. But just before he could cross the plane, Keller stuck him with a big hit and got him to the ground before he could cross the line.

"Once that quarterback crossed the line-of-scrimmage, I saw his eyes, read his belly-button and just made a great tackle to stop him," Keller said.

Estacada's defensive stop forced Woodburn to attempt an onside kick to try and get the ball back. The kick was unsuccessful as the Rangers ran the clock out and walked off the field as victors.

"(Woodburn's) quarterbacks are very hard to contain when they're out of the pocket, so Nick coming up with that stop was so big."

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