Bobcats lean on their power running game in a 22-16 triumph

by: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: CHASE ALLGOOD - Gaston senior Austin Morey follows a blocker during Friday's league game against Nestucca. Morey rushed for 232 yards in a 22-16 loss.Gaston made the most of its opportunities during Friday’s Northwest League football game against Nestucca.

The problem was, the Greyhounds just didn’t have very many of them.

Nestucca’s no-frills, ground-and-pound rushing attack succeeded in controlling the clock and keeping Gaston’s offense off the field for large portions of the game, and the visiting Bobcats prevailed 22-16 on a late fourth-quarter touchdown.

“They had the ball basically the entire game,” Gaston coach Reeve Woodward said of Nestucca. “We had five possessions all game and one of them lasted 30 seconds right before halftime.”

Despite the time of possession disparity, Gaston led for much of the game. Austin Morey ended Nestucca’s first drive after just one play, intercepting a pass and returning it to the 40-yard line. Morey then gave Gaston an 8-0 lead by throwing a 15-yard touchdown pass to Alex Sweet and connecting with Dylan Clark for a two-point conversion.

Nestucca cut the lead to 8-6 with a touchdown less than a minute before halftime, but Gaston responded on its first possession of the second half, driving 70 yards to set up a 1-yard plunge by fullback Ian Mann. Morey hooked up with Sweet for the two-point conversion, and Gaston led 16-6 early in the third quarter.

That was when Nestucca’s methodical offense took over the game. The Bobcats chewed up nearly 10 minutes on their next possession before scoring early in the fourth quarter, cutting Gaston’s lead to 16-14.

The Greyhounds had a chance to widen the margin, driving to the 20-yard line before an intentional grounding penalty pushed them out of the red zone. That led to a punt, and Nestucca went back to work on the ground, mounting an eight-minute, 80-yard drive that culminated with the game-winning touchdown.

Gaston’s last-gasp comeback attempt ended with an interception, and Nestucca ran out the clock for a big league victory.

“We started panicking and trying to make big plays, and we threw an interception,” Woodward said.

Nestucca never punted and converted several fourth-down opportunities to help keep Gaston’s offense on the sideline.

“It was pretty frustrating, but the boys played hard,” Woodward said. “We just couldn’t slow them down or get a stop.”

Morey rushed for 232 yards in the loss, providing most of the Greyhounds’ offense on a night when every possession was precious.

“We had our chances. If we just made a big play here or there we could have won it,” Woodward said. “But that’s sort of been the story of our season — we’ve been snakebit.

“It’s disappointing because we felt like we could have won. It gets frustrating for the guys a little bit. It sucks when you’re not getting the breaks.”

The Bobcats improved to 5-2 overall and 3-1 in Northwest League play, good for a second-place tie with Knappa behind undefeated Portland Christian. Gaston dropped to 3-4 overall, 1-2 in the league.

The Hounds will look to rebound this Friday with a road trip to Knappa, followed by the regular-season finale against Vernonia on Nov. 1.

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