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Rockets 15, Bruins 6

Castle Rock falls on Columbia in second half

For the first time this season, Columbia High School gained more yards of offense than its opponent.

But, for the third game in a row, the Bruins failed to outscore an opponent, losing their Trico Division opener, 15-6, at Castle Rock last Friday.

After a scoreless first half, the Rockets (1-1, 2-2) sandwiched a pair of short touchdown runs around a safety to establish a 15-0 lead early in the fourth quarter.

The Bruins got their only score with 9:07 remaining in the contest on a 1-yard plunge by junior quarterback Jon Bryan.

Bruins Coach Scott Ross called the setback a game of "opportunities lost," particularly in the first half when Columbia recorded four takeaways (two fumble recoveries, two interceptions).

In the first quarter, Columbia (0-1, 1-3) had senior linebacker Simon Wilkerson's 85-yard interception return for a touchdown nullified by a block-in-the-back penalty on the runback.

On a fourth-and-goal play with under a minute to go in the second quarter, a Bruins receiver dropped a sure-thing touchdown pass in the end zone.

"We could've had a minimum of 12 points, and a maximum of 16, in the first half if we hadn't had that interception called back and that drop in the end zone," Ross noted.

He added: "Getting that one before halftime would've been especially nice because it would've been a real momentum shift for us going into the locker room at the half."

Instead, the momentum generated by that goal-line stand gave the error-prone Rockets a much-needed lift.

The Bruins, meanwhile, came out flat to start the second half. They received the kickoff but couldn't put a drive together and had to punt.

Castle Rock took over at its 35-yard line and methodically marched 65 yards for the game's first score: a 3-yard run by the diminutive Cole Elf.

"They came out and shut us down, and took it to us on their first drive of the second half," Ross said of the Rockets. "They found some weaknesses in our defense and went to work on those areas, running a lot of toss and power off-tackle."

White Salmon got the ball back but turned it over on its first play when the Rockets' Brandon Swanson picked off a Bryan pass.

The score became 9-0 in the third quarter when the snap from center flew over punter Jon Bryan's hands and out of the end zone for a safety.

Elf scored Castle Rock's second touchdown on a 1-yard run early in the fourth quarter to make it 15-0.

For the game, CHS racked up a season-high 222 yards and 17 first downs in total offense in 48 plays. Castle Rock mustered 217 yards and 22 first downs in 56 plays.

"As the statistics indicate, we were pretty evenly matched teams," Ross said. "It's just that Castle Rock took advantage of the opportunities it got and we didn't take advantage of every opportunity we got."

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