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Rams fight off Sunset

Central Catholic’s offense, led by quarterback Aidan Wilder’s four touchdown passes, did its job, the Rams defense bent but did not break and Central Catholic moved into the third round of the Oregon School Activities Association Class 6A playoffs.

Central Catholic had a more difficult time with Sunset than many would have predicted, but the Rams were never in any real danger, winning 35-21 Friday night at Hillsboro Stadium.

“We didn’t play real sharp, and give Sunset credit for that,” Central Catholic coach Steve Pyne said. “We responded when they gave us a big punch. Our kids responded. That was key.”

Central Catholic (9-2) will play Tigard next week in the quarterfinals.

The Rams got on the scoreboard first. After a fake punt kept their drive alive, they moved to the Apollos' 32-yard line.

Central Catholic then handed the ball off to Ryan Nall. The junior running back took the inside tackle run, sped through the linebackers and cruised to the end zone. After the Rams failed to score on the two-point conversion, Central Catholic led 6-0 with 5:13 remaining in the first quarter.

“The blocking was great,” Nall said. “When I got the ball, I saw a hole and just took off.”

Sunset (6-5) struck back and pulled ahead on its next possession. The Apollos got to the Rams' 8. On first- and-goal, Bruce Jones tried a run up the middle and found no room. Jones kept his legs moving, though, stayed patient and finally saw a hole open up. As soon as he found daylight, Jones snaked through the pile for the touchdown. After the PAT, Sunset led 7-6.

The Rams answered with 57 seconds remaining in the first quarter. Wilder completed an 8-yard TD pass to Zach Davis. After the Rams were able to score on the two-point conversion, Central Catholic was up 14-7.

On their first possession of the second quarter, the Rams drove to the 6. After a holding call, they faced third-and- goal from the 16. Taking a shotgun snap, Wilder scrambled, eluded a tackle, bought himself time and finally lofted a pass to a wide-open Davis. Davis caught the ball and walked two additional yards into the end zone for the touchdown. The PAT put Central up 21-7.

“On a couple of them, I had to freelance, break a tackle and look downfield,” Wilder said.

With 5:20 remaining in the first half, Sunset pulled to within one score. Willy Pflug threw a bullet to Jones, who was running a crossing route over the middle. The pass hit Jones in stride for a 64-yard touchdown. The PAT made the score 21-14.

Central Catholic went up 28-14 on its first play from scrimmage in the second half. Wilder received terrific protection and had enough time to deliver a pass to Beau Duronslet, who took the ball across the goal line for a 49-yard touchdown.

“I was being patient,” Wilder said. “More patient than I usually am. Sometimes, I was a little bit too patient. But I had a lot of patience and didn’t get down on myself.”

The Apollos again brought themselves within striking distance. With 4:33 remaining in the third quarter, Sunset moved to the Rams’ 34. Pflug then dropped back and threw up a bomb deep to the end zone. The pass found Ryan Hendry, who battled off two Central Catholic defensive backs, lost his helmet and still managed to pull in the ball for a touchdown. After the PAT, Sunset trailed 28-21.

The Rams went up 35-21 with 7:59 remaining in the game. Central Catholic faced a third-and-21 from the Apollos' 24. Wilder found Lawrence Wilson in the middle of the end zone for a touchdown.

Pyne said Central Catholic will have a lot of work ahead of it in preparation for Tigard.

“We’ve got to go back to the film and look at the things we need to do better,” he said. “We’ve got a huge test next week against Tigard. They’re a great team. We’ve got to just worry about ourselves and see if we can line up against them and give them a game.”