Wildcats end season with narrow setback in Corvallis

by: GREG ARTMAN - Wilsonville running back Derek Sunkle rushed 31 times for 102 yards, caught two passes for 99 yards and a touchdown and threw for a score in the final game of his high school career Nov. 8 at Crescent Valley. He also tallied 121 yards on two kickoff returns.The Wilsonville football team was minutes away from a win in the playoffs. Now, it’s months away.

In a back-and-forth game that featured numerous memorable plays, the Wildcats couldn’t keep Corvallis-Crescent Valley out of the end zone late in the fourth quarter of a heartbreaking 36-29 road loss in the Class 5A first round Nov. 8.

Ninth-seeded Wilsonville (6-5) was unable to counter after the Raiders took the lead on a short touchdown run with 2 minutes 5 seconds remaining, its fifth-straight playoff appearance ending without a win for the second year in a row.

Eighth-seeded Crescent Valley advanced to face No. 1 Sherwood in the second round.

The Wildcats entered the playoffs after clobbering Eagle Point in the play-in round, but they were held to their third-lowest rushing output of the season (146 yards) in a tightly contested game against the Raiders (7-3).

“It’s hard to go out that way with all the work we put in,” senior running back Derek Sunkle tweeted. “Couldn’t ask for a better group of guys.”

Trailing 28-16 early in the fourth quarter, Wilsonville clawed back into the contest with ample help from Sunkle.

After Crescent Valley scored on a 2-yard touchdown run by Drew Kell, Sunkle corralled the ensuing kickoff and scampered 96 yards for a score. Harry England converted the extra-point attempt to bring the Wildcats within five.

Wilsonville reclaimed the lead at 29-28 on an 80-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Elijah Benedick to Sunkle with 4:33 to play.

But the Raiders pulled ahead for good on a 3-yard touchdown run by Austin Kearns and kept the Wildcats at bay the rest of the way.

Sunkle rushed 31 times for 102 yards, caught two passes for 99 yards and a touchdown and threw for a score in the final game of his high school career. He also tallied 121 yards on two kickoff returns.

Benedick completed five of his 13 passes for 111 yards and one touchdown.

Standout linebacker Cooper Whittaker had 10 tackles and two sacks to lead Wilsonville’s defense.

Fellow senior Tanner Crooks caught one touchdown pass and recorded six tackles for the Wildcats.

Wilsonville struck first on a 1-yard touchdown run by junior Cole Wilson midway through the first quarter. Crescent Valley made it 7-7 after a 21-yard pass from Kell to Corey Conklin late in the opening period.

The Raiders took their first lead on an 8-yard run by Hunter Hurley early in the second quarter, and Kearns extended their edge to 15-7 on a two-point conversion run.

The Wildcats’ only second-quarter points came on a blocked punt and safety by junior Lane Hull.

In the third quarter, Wilsonville fell behind 22-9 on Crescent Valley’s 1-yard touchdown run by Nick Pozzesi and extra point by Kevin Takamori. And although it stayed within striking distance on an 8-yard touchdown pass from Sunkle to Crooks shortly thereafter, its late fourth-quarter lead — and its season — slipped away.

Tweeted Crooks after the game: “Earbuds in ... reality out.”



Class 5A playoffs (first round)

Crescent Valley 36, Wilsonville 29

Nov. 8 at Crescent Valley High School (Corvallis)

1 2 3 4 F

Wilsonville 7 2 7 13 -- 29

Crescent Valley 7 8 7 14 -- 36

First quarter

W — (6:23) Cole Wilson 1 run (Harry England kick)

CV — (1:33) Corey Conklin 21 pass from Drew Kell (Kevin Takamori kick)

Second quarter

CV — (11:49) Hunter Hurley 8 run (Austin Kearns conversion run)

W — (6:08) Lane Hull blocked punt safety

Third quarter

CV — (8:57) Nick Pozzesi 1 run (Takamori kick)

W — (8:23) Tanner Crooks 8 pass from Derek Sunkle (England kick)

Fourth quarter

CV — (11:46) Kell 2 run (kick failed)

W — (11:30) Sunkle 96 kickoff return (England kick)

W — (4:33) Sunkle 80 pass from Elijah Benedick (conversion pass failed)

CV — (2:05) Kearns 3 run (Conklin conversion pass from Kell)

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