Gladiators led 46-0 with nine minutes left in the third quarter

by: PHOTO BY LOREN NIBBE - Rangers quarterback Bryan Rhone pulls down the ball and runs with it during the 46-7 loss to Gladstone.Heading into last Friday’s matchup with Gladstone, the Estacada football team knew it would have its hands full aginst one of the highest-ranked teams in the state.

That prediction hit the bull's-eye as the Rangers fell to a 46-7 defeat; Estacada's second loss of the year.

On defense, the Rangers knew their biggest challenge would be containing Gladstone's incredible speed.

On offense, the Rangers needed to control the ball and take time off the clock.

Neither worked.

The Rangers got off to a good start, forcing a three-and-out on Gladstone’s first possession after a run for no gain and two incomplete passes.

After taking the ball over at their own 26, the Rangers couldn’t get enough for a first down, setting up a punt on fourth-and-two. The punt didn’t go as planned as the ball rolled back to punter Steven Weaver and he kicked it out of bounds just 16 yards downfield.

Once again, however, the Rangers defense held. After allowing one first down, Estacada forced another Gladiator punt, which was downed at the one yard line.

Knowing they needed a first down to re-establish field position, the Rangers once again gained eight yards before being forced to punt, and once again, the punt didn’t go as planned.

This time, Weaver got off a solid kick, but the Gladiators returned it all the way to the seven yard line before scoring just two plays later to go up 7-0 midway through the first quarter.

From there, it was all downhill.

After an unsuccessful fake punt on the Rangers’ next possession, Gladstone marched 58 yards in seven plays for their second score of the game. The story there was third downs, as Gladstone converted on third and 12 and then again on third and 9 before going in for the score from 33 yards out.

The Rangers punted once again on their next possession, and as became the early theme, Gladstone scored from 30 yards out on the first play of the second quarter to extend the lead to 20-0.

At halftime, Gladstone had extended the lead to 34-0, scoring on five of their last six possessions of the half. The one failed possession was a missed 24-yard field goal.

For the Rangers offense, they notched just two first downs all half, going three-and-out six times.

Unfortunately, the second half wasn’t much of an improvement.

The Rangers failed to gain a first down on their first possession and promptly punted to Gladstone. The Gladiators extended their lead to 40-0 just three plays later on a 13-yard touchdown run.

After Estacada fumbled the ensuing kickoff, Gladstone once again scored on their third play from scrimmage, this time on a 25-yard run that made it 46-0 with nine minutes left in the third.

In desperate need of a spark, the Rangers finally got one on the ensuing kickoff. Ryan Vauthier took the kick all the way back to the Gladiator 29 yard line on a reverse, setting up Estacada with their best field position all night.

After a 10-yard pass from Bryan Rhone to Brandon Beck and a penalty against Gladstone set Estacada up with first and goal, they finally broke through. On third and goal, Alex Barstad scored on an eight-yard pass from Rhone and got the Rangers on the board with 4:38 left in the third at 46-7.

Neither team would score the rest of the game, as the final score stood at 46-7.

“We came out the first couple series and did a great job of doing what we wanted to defensively, but offensively we didn’t have one play where everyone did the right thing,” head coach Brigham Baker said. “I think we’re all committed to a common goal, and once the switch pops on, then we’ll start making those plays. It’s going to be a special thing to be a part of.”

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