WINSLOW – Every time Corey Aldecoa would break a few tackles and Traip would march downfield, it was natural to think the Rangers were on the verge of tying their Western Class C semifinal against Winslow.
But every time Traip threatened, Winslow’s defense buckled down and kept the Rangers out of the end zone.
A 16-yard touchdown run by Joe Hopkins less than six minutes into the game held up the rest of the way, and top-seeded Winslow advanced with a 7-0 victory Saturday afternoon at Poulin Field.
Winslow (9-1) will host No. 3 Dirigo in the regional final, most likely at 1 p.m. Saturday. Fourth-seeded Traip, which defeated Winslow 36-8 on the same field last year, ends at 8-2.
“We were supposed to get outcoached, we were supposed to get outplayed, and we didn’t,” Traip Coach Ron Ross said. “We had a couple mistakes, a couple costly mistakes. It’s tough. It’s really is.”
Traip had 182 yards of offense, and most of that was from Aldecoa, who picked up 160 yards on 26 carries. For Winslow, Hopkins rushed 13 times for 140 yards, and Zach Guptill gained 113 yards on 22 tries.
“That’s one of our best defensive efforts of the year,” Winslow Coach Mike Siviski said. “They annihilated us last year. It was just a hog battle. Aldecoa, he’s fantastic.”
Winslow took it to the Rangers in the early going. Staying almost exclusively with running plays between the tackles, the Black Raiders rushed for 121 yards in the first quarter. Their touchdown drive covered 44 yards on three plays, with Hopkins rushing for 4, then 24, then 16 yards for the touchdown.
Winslow continued to run inside after that, but without as much success. The Raiders went the entire second quarter and more than half the third without a first down.
“We knew we had to survive the first quarter, because they were going to come out like barnburners,” Ross said. “If we stayed close, maybe we could catch a break and catch ‘em in the second half. We did make some adjustments. We pinched a little more. We sent (linebackers) through C-gaps. We slowed ‘em down a little bit.”
Traip kept pushing but couldn’t get into the end zone. A combination of failed fourth-down conversions, turnovers, penalties and big plays by the Winslow defense helped end several drives into Winslow territory.
Eventually, the Black Raiders revived their power running game to run off the final 5:19. With Guptill doing most of the work, the Raiders picked up five straight first downs.