Kade Coons scored three touchdowns to give the Washougal football team an 18-16 lead with eight minutes to go in the third quarter Friday, at Fishback Stadium.
The Panthers held on to their advantage until the start of the fourth quarter, and then R.A. Long gained three touchdowns during those final 12 minutes of the game to win 37-18.
“In the first three quarters, we proved to ourselves that we can beat these high level teams. We just have to finish stronger,” Coons said. “It wasn’t what we wanted, but as a team, we all learned something.”
Washougal senior offensive lineman Aubrey Kraft suffered a severe injury in the first quarter. He returned to the sidelines in the second half on crutches. The Lumberjacks took advantage with two touchdowns and two 2-point conversions in the first half. Coons caught a 3-yard touchdown pass by Tyler Bowlin and added a 19-yard touchdown run, but the Panthers still trailed by four points at halftime.
Washougal had an opportunity to take the lead after receiving the opening kickoff in the third quarter. The Panthers went for it on fourth-and-one and gained a first down. Coons then turned a short pass by Bowlin into a 28-yard play. Zack Neketuk set Washougal up for a first-and-goal. Coons dove across the goal line for a 5-yard touchdown and the Panthers celebrated their first lead of the game.
“He’s a small kid. Just a sophomore, but he’s tough and he plays hard,” head coach Dave Hajek said of Coons. “I think he’s going to be a pretty dynamic player.”
Luke Langland intercepted a pass for Washougal on defense. Jack Klackner caught a 17-yard pass and Coons broke loose on a 24-yard pass, but the Panthers couldn’t keep the drive going. They attempted a 38-yard field goal, but the ball sailed just wide of the left post.
R.A. Long regained the lead on a touchdown and a 2-point conversion at the beginning of the fourth quarter. Penalties and an interception prevented Washougal from gaining any more ground. The Lumberjacks added two more touchdowns to put the game out of reach.
“We have to learn how to finish,” Hajek said. “We’re a young team, and it shows that we’re a young team.”
Washougal (1-3) heads to Woodland Friday. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. Hajek wants the Panthers to keep scratching and clawing.
“I appreciate their fight and their effort,” he said. “I know they’re frustrated. I hope they keep working to improve. That’s what it’s all about right now.”