Title bout over, playoffs begin

The Toledo Boomers, led by center Markus Cross (No. 57), running back Kyle Haner (No. 14), wide receiver Donovan Villanueva (No. 24) and quarterback Jaxon Rozewski (No. 10), will put their league title hopes behind them as they play Lost River at home in the opening round of state 2A football championship play Saturday at 1 p.m. (Photo by A.J. Wawrack)

TOLEDO — Coquille’s football team traveled to Dale Hargett Field in Toledo on Friday night in search of a second consecutive Sunset League Title.

After four contentious quarters, they did just that, leaving with a 32-20 win that bumped Coquille to No. 2 in the OSAA rankings with home games assured until the semi-final rounds at a neutral site. Despite their loss, Toledo’s No. 5 power ranking assured them of a slot in the first bracket of 2A championship football playoffs with a home game Saturday, Nov. 9, against Lost River.

The Boomers struck early on their first drive when Kyle Hayner took a trap 31 yards to the end zone, putting the score at 7-0. The very next drive, Coquille traveled 73 yards down the field on an eight-play drive to score the touchdown and two-point conversion, bringing the contest to 8-7.

On the kickoff, Coquille recovered the onside boot and turned the next six plays into a 49-yard drive capped off with a 21-yard run by Gunner Yates, making the score 16-7 heading into the half.

“I think we felt good about our chances at halftime,” Coach Jeff Taylor said. “I wish we could have gotten the ball after the half, but it is what it is,”

On the opening drive of the third quarter, Coquille took the ball on a nine-play, 65-yard drive capped off by senior Ean Smith’s three-yard run, upping their margin to 24-8. On the following drive, Toledo got into their new “Diesel” set with Donovan Villanueva at quarterback. Toledo traveled on an eight-play, 58-yard scoring drive capped off with a Villanueva’s one-yard touchdown, narrowing the score to 24-14.

Both teams traded punts and turnovers until Coquille scored their final touchdown on a nine-play, 45-yard drive finalized by a three-yard touchdown by Yates. With another two-point conversion, Coquille took the score to 32-14 with 6:32 on the clock.

Toledo came out throwing on the next drive and went on a nine-play, 54-yard push ending with a 14-yard touchdown pass from junior Jaxon Rozewski to Hayner. A failed two-point conversion closed the scoring at 32-20 with 4:02 remaining.

“At that point I knew we had a shot, but we couldn’t give them the ball back,” said Taylor. “With four minutes to go and down two scores, we had to get the onside kick.”

Cody Nicholson got a great bounce on the onside attempt, but the Boomers couldn’t quite get to it. Two first downs later by Coquille sealed the clock, bragging rights, and Sunset League supremacy for another year.

“It was a real bummer,” said Rozewski. “We prepared as best we could, but just a few plays here and there was the difference.”

“In a game like that with a run-dominant team that chews the clock, you have to take advantage of your chances, especially on offense,” Taylor recapped. “We are just gonna get better and move forward to Lost River.”

After the game Toledo dropped to No. 5 in the final OSAA power rankings, giving them a first round home game versus No. 12-ranked Lost River (6-3, 3-1 SD5) of Merrill, which is located south of Klamath Falls. The matchup on the surface looks to be favorable to the Boomers, with Lost River having to travel 328 miles on Friday.

Kickoff time is 1 p.m. Saturday at Dale Hargett Field at Toledo High School.

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