Sunset trails just 28-21 in the fourth quarter but loses 35-21

HILLSBORO — Say this at least about the Sunset football in its season-ending loss to Central Catholic on Friday night — the Apollos went down with all guns blazing.

The 18th-ranked Apollos, the fourth-place finishers from the Metro League, pushed the second-ranked Rams throughout their battle at Hillsboro Stadium, but saw the Mt. Hood Conference champions edge away to win 35-21 in the second round of the Class 6A state playoffs.

by: CHRISTOPHER ONSTOTT - SUNSET SENIOR - Sunset's Bruce Jones looks for running room in his team's 35-21 loss to Central Catholic in the second round of the Class 6A state playoffs at Hillsboro Stadium on Friday.

The loss ended Sunset's season at 6-5, while the Rams improved to 9-2 and advanced to meet Tigard in the state quarterfinals at 7 p.m. Friday at Hillsboro Stadium.

“We competed. We gave them a game,” said Sunset coach Faustin Riley, whose team advanced out of the first round for the first time since 2001.

Indeed. The Apollos trailed just 28-21 as the game entered its fourth quarter, but just couldn't the additional score they needed to tie the game. Central tacked on a late touchdown — a 21-yard pass from Aidan Wilder to Lawrence Wilson — for the final 35-21 margin.

“We were moving the ball and getting some stops,” Riley said, “We just couldn't quite get it done.”

The Rams led 14-7 in the first quarter, getting scores from Ryan Nall (a 30-yard run) and Zach Davis (a seven-yard pass from Wilder) while the Apollos came back with a nine-yard TD run from Bruce Jones.

Central Catholic extended its lead to 21-7 on an 11-yard Wilder-to-Davis pass in the second quarter, but Sunset cut the gap to one score again when Jones grabbed a pass from sophomore quarterback Willy Pflug and turned it into a 64-yard score.

The Rams pushed their edge again in the third quarter with a 49-yard Wilder TD pass to Beau Duronslet, while Sunset moved back within 28-21 later in the period when Pflug connected with senior Ryan Hendry for a 29-yard score.

But Sunset wouldn't score again and the Rams added their insurance TD from Wilson in the fourth to seal the win.

“I've been really proud of our kids all year, especially for a team that was undersized and had just one full-time returning starter,” Riley said.

Friday's loss also put a cap to a tumultuous season that saw the Apollos open the year with three straight wins, drop four straight by a total of just 22 points, then rally with three straight victories to lead in the finale against Central Catholic.

“The four-game losing streak was about as hard a thing as I've been through,” Riley said. “And the way the kids bounced back was about the coolest thing I've seen.”

For the game, Jones finished with 103 yards rushing on 17 carries, and also caught three passes for 77 yards. Pflug went 13-of-30 passing for 256 yards, with Trevor Caldwell catching three passes for 87 yards and Hendry five for 61.

Wilder went 13-of-24 for 241 yards, two to Duronslet for 75 yards, while Nall rushed eight times for 119 yards.

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