By Jeremy McDonald
KLAMATH FALLS, Ore.– Nerves were cranked all the way up to 11 when Mazama took over possession with 4:23 left in the game with Cascade.
In what is possibly a 4A State Semi-Final match-up come November, Cascade found themselves leading 31-28, which eventually would become the final Friday night, nerves were high yes; but for the Cougars it came down to doing their jobs on defense.
“It all really came down to everyone doing their job, it’s all we had to do,” Cascade defensive end Isaac Schnepp said. “Our coaches have been preaching all week and all day about adversity. We knew we had to face it and it all came down to how we responded and we responded perfectly.”
The Turner-squad didn’t have any kind of bus lag coming down to Southern Oregon. Their defense received a healthy dose of Zeke Heaton, but kept the senior running back in check to a handful of yards here and a handful of yards there.
Heaton did score three times during the game, but only once during the opening half as Cascade jumped out to a 28-14 halftime lead on the fifth-ranked team in the coaches poll. The Cougars were ranked fourth.
All four touchdowns featured Jacob Hage. Three rushing touchdowns from five, 43 and 86-yards out with one passing touchdown to Colin Smittle on a post-route from 30-yards out.
“We came into this game knowing that it was going to be a dogfight. We knew it’ll come down to us winning up front and that’s what we did tonight,” Hage said. “Our lineman, they showed up tonight. They blocked and they made those holes for our backs to go through. Overall, we came out fighting in that first half because we won up front.”
Smittle tacked on a 32-yard field goal following a defensive stop that featured Cascade capitalizing on a bad punt snap to set them up with good field position.
That was with 8:38 left in the third quarter. The Cougars were up 31-14 as they kicked it back to the Vikings.
Both teams traded stops before Heaton punched it in for his second touchdown of the day with two seconds remaining in the third quarter. Hage fumbled the next possession that set up another Heaton touchdown, the Mazama running back collected 158 yards on 34 carries.
“They came to fight. Mazama did. They were chunking, chunking, chunking. It was back-and-forth, we chunked, they chunked, we chunked. Quick game,” Hage said. “They got us in the second half but we showed up in the first half.”
The Cacade coaches expect ‘five second players’. Meaning that you go hard and give it all you got for five seconds, roughly the average length of a play, and rest the next 30 or so.
With their lead now three, 31-28 following Heaton’s touchdown with 6:56 left, they needed to rely on that philosophy when it counted.
The Cougs couldn’t add to their lead following the touchdown, but made sure defensively Mazama didn’t complete the comeback when they got the ball back with 4:23 left in the game. Cascade allowed seven yards in their final defensive possession to force the four-and-out.
Hage, who finished with 113 yards on the ground and 74 yards passing, picked up a clutch fourth-down conversion to ice the win as they went into the Victory Formation to seal the win.
With Tillamook on a short week, the win is nice but now it’s onto the Cheesemakers Thursday.
“It starts with practice. We take it week-by-week. Every game we’ll take the same mentality as this game and take care of business every week,” Schnepp said. “We’re only worried about next week. From here on out, it’s Tillamook.:
Photos By Jeremy McDonald