By Jerod Young • Jerod Young • 

Dayton is back

SALEM — The No. 1-ranked Dayton Pirates beat the No. 5-ranked Santiam Christian Eagles 32-18 in the 3A state semifinals Saturday at McCulloch Stadium.

With the win, the Pirates make a return trip to the 3A state finals and will face the No. 2-ranked Cascade Christian Challengers at 4 p.m. Saturday at Cottage Grove High School.

Dayton fell behind early in its semifinal playoff and trailed the Eagles 12-0 after a Jacob Callis 3-yard touchdown run with 8 minutes, 30 seconds remaining in the first quarter and an 18-yard touchdown pass thrown by quarterback Grant Schroeder to Christian Fullbright with 2:01 left.

After a miserable offensive first quarter that saw Dayton produce 11 yards, and a heated exchange from Pirates coach Brodie Unger, the Dayton defense allowed six points through the remaining three quarters and the offense produced 295 total yards in the win.

The start of the second quarter is when both sides of the ball came alive for Dayton. The Pirates moved the ball down the field, and Forrest Garica ran the ball in from the 1-yard line for the score with 5:34 left to put the Pirates on the board.

Santiam Christian responded by moving the ball down the field quickly and scoring its final touchdown of the game, a five yard run by tailback Joe Pelley with 2:12 left in the half and an 18-6 lead. Garcia answered the score 23 seconds later by taking the ball 40 yards to the house to narrow Dayton’s deficit to 18-14.

Jered White gave the Pirates lead with 54 seconds left in the half on a 40-yard touchdown reception from Bernards.

Garcia scored his third touchdown of the game — a 1-yard touchdown run at 9:02 in the third — for the 26-18. White scored the final Pirate touchdown, a 10-yard run in the fourth quarter

Garcia rushed for 114 yards and three touchdowns, and White had 98 receiving yards and one touchdown. The Eagles produced more total yards (369) than Dayton but were not able to get the second consecutive playoff win vs. the Pirates after last year’s 47-yard game winning field goal in the 2011 3A state championship game.

Santiam Christian was led by Schroeder’s 225 passing yards and one rushing touchdown. He also led the Eagles with 59 rushing yards. Both teams rushed for 144 yards and both teams were 3-for-3 in the red zone.

With the win vs. SC, the Pirates return to the 3A state finals for the second year in a row.

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