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Clatskanie quarterback James Helman (second from right) looks for an opening, while Timber Zea (54) runs interference, and Andre Combs (10) awaits the pass in the Tigers’ Oct. 11 upset defeat of Rainier.

The number one-ranked, defending state champion Rainier Columbian football team suffered its first defeat in two years, when it fell 8-13 to traditional rival Clatskanie on the Tiger field Friday night, Oct. 11.

The victorious Tigers, ranked number 12 among 3A schools coming into Friday’s league game, are now 3-2 for the season, having fallen in non-league games to two Eastern Oregon schools, Heppner and LaGrande, but scoring victories against two Washington schools, Highline of Burien and Winlock.

Although the Columbians tallied 114 points to only 12 for their opponents in four games leading up to the battle against Clatskanie, the Tigers put the brakes on Rainier’s highly-touted “diesel” offense.

Both the penalty-prone Tigers and the Columbians failed to field successful offenses in the first quarter. Tiger defenses held through Rainier’s first possession of the second quarter, and the Clatskanie offense took over, driving down field with runs by Cedric Moses and Andre Combs. A quarterback sneak by James Helman brought the Tigers to just beyond the 50-yard line, then Moses took off around the end for a 45-yard touchdown run with 5:48 left in the half. Andre Combs’ kick was good, and the Tigers led 7-0.

Rainier took over on the Clatskanie 30-yard line, but again failed to launch a successful drive. The 4th down kick was short, and in the next play, Tiger Sam Shockley ran 50-yards to TD territory. Flags had flown on the play, however, and the touchdown was negated by an illegal shift call against the Tigers. The first half ended 7-0 Clatskanie.

The two teams swapped possessions during the scoreless third quarter, and Rainier running back Brandon Isaacson went down with a leg injury.

Clatskanie’s Timber Zea sacked Rainier quarterback Kenney Tripp on 4th down, and the Tigers regained the ball, but were foiled again by penalties.

After a long drive at the start of the 4th quarter, sparked by runs by Tripp and Stone Ware, Rainier reached the goal line, scored a two-point conversion, and grabbed the 8-7 lead with 7:47 left in the game.

Clatskanie’s Noah Patterson returned the kickoff to the 40-yard line, and the Tigers began their drive down field on a series of runs by Moses. He went over the line with 1:19 left on the clock. The Columbians stopped the Tiger attempt for a 2-point conversion, but the Clatskanie had regained the lead, 13-8.

The determined Tiger defense again stymied Rainier’s offense. Clatskanie’s Chase Baker stopped quarterback Tripp for a loss, and Clatskanie regained possession in time to let the clock run out on their victory.

Both north Columbia County teams will face the same West Special District 1 schools in the final four weeks of the season.

Clatskanie travels to Lincoln City to meet Taft next Friday, Oct. 11, while Rainier hosts Dayton.

On Oct. 18, Clatskanie will travel to Dayton, while Rainier visits Amity.

Oct. 25 will see Clatskanie hosting Amity in the Tigers homecoming game, while Rainier goes to Willamina.

In the final game of regular season play on Nov. 1, Clatskanie travels to Willamina, while Rainier hosts Taft.

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