ALBANY — Feed the football to Jake LaCoste, and good things usually happen for the West Albany offense.
West coach Randy Nyquist ran his star tailback as much as possible Friday night, hoping that he would finally pop a big gain to put the game out of reach of visiting Ashland.
Late in the third quarter, the junior ball-carrier did just that.
On third-and-1 from West's own 25-yard line, LaCoste took the handoff and ran off-tackle to the left, busted through the line and used his breakaway speed to run all the way to the end zone.
That score put West up 28-7, and the Bulldogs were well on their way to a physical 42-7 victory over the Grizzlies in an OSAA 5A state round of 16 game.
The Bulldogs (9-1) now have the chance to avenge their only loss of the season. West will travel to Silverton, which defeated Rex Putnam 49-0 Friday night, next week in the quarterfinals.
In cold and wet conditions, West coach Randy Nyquist kept the ball in the hands of his reliable back for the majority of the game against Ashland (7-4).
LaCoste finished with 286 yards rushing on 34 carries and four scores. At the half, LaCoste had 27 carries for 182 yards, and accounted for 195 of West's 198 yards of total offense.
"Our line did an amazing job getting push, and all I could do was follow behind them and get what I could," LaCoste said.
Until the 75-yard burst on his 33rd carry of the game, LaCoste's longest run of the night was 16 yards. The Ashland defensive front held up well, and the Grizzlies routinely brought extra defenders into the box to take try and away LaCoste.
But Nyquist knew that LaCoste would eventually be able to pop one.
"You give it to him enough times, pretty soon something good is going to happen," the coach said. "He ran the ball hard and played really well. The offensive line and our tight ends and our fullback and wide receivers, they all did a really good job blocking."
West quarterback Cody Lahoda did pass for 97 yards to keep the Ashland defense from completely selling out to stop the run, but LaCoste still did most of his damage against a stacked box.
Junior H-back Jackson Soto said that Ashland had a solid defensive scheme to stop the run, but the Bulldogs adjusted and wore the Grizzlies out.
"They did a pretty good job of studying us up and learning how we move. They did a good job of aligning against us, but by the second quarter we were making the blocks we needed to," Soto said.
The West Albany defense was equally impressive in the win.
The Bulldogs held an Ashland offense averaging 386 yards per game to 114 total yards.
The Grizzlies gained only nine yards net rushing. Ashland quarterbacks were sacked four times for minus-41 yards.
"Our defensive linemen and our linebackers played really, really well. I thought we were physical. They completed some passes, but we came up and tackled them well," Nyquist said.
Connor Kaegi played the majority of the first half under center for Ashland. When given time, Kaegi stood tall in the pocket and was very accurate.
Danial White started the second half and primarily ran the read-option. The West defense line often took away running lanes with immediate penetration.
West Albany 42, Ashland 7
At Memorial Stadium
Ashland 7 0 0 0 —7
West Albany 7 14 14 7 —42
WA — LaCoste 15 run (Wiest kick)
A — White 5 run (Hedges kick)
WA — LaCoste 2 run (Wiest kick)
WA — LaCoste 1 run (Wiest kick)
WA — LaCoste 75 run (Wiest kick)
WA — Breslin 48 pass from Lahoda (Wiest kick)
WA — Thompson 3 kick (Wiest kick)
First Downs 10 19
Rushes-Yards 24-(-4) 50-335
Passing Yards 118 97
Comp-Att-Int 10-17-0 6-9-0
Total Yards 114 432
Punts 5-32 1-35
Fumbles-lost 0-0 0-0
Penalties-yards 1-5 9-86
Ashland — White 6-15, Volz 12-9, Chandler 1-1, Kaegi 5-(-29).
West Albany — LaCoste 34-286, Thompson 11-39, Crook 3-8, Lahoda 2-2.
Ashland — Kaegi 9-15-0 116, White 1-2-0 2.
West Albany — Lahoda 6-9-0 97.
Ashland — R. Atteberry 5-64, Penn 2-42, Glick 1-10, Chandler 1-4, Volz 1-(-2).
West Albany — Breslin 2-47, Valenzuela 1-25, LaCoste 1-13, Soto 2-12.