The Pacers win a third straight time, reach Columbia Cup semifinals.
Revenge, it’s said, is a dish best served at 42 degrees in occasional light rain.
At least that’s the way the Lakeridge football team played it, avenging a late-season loss to Oregon City by beating the Pioneers 35-14 in the rematch during the quarterfinals of the Columbia Cup at Pioneer Memorial Stadium on Friday, Nov. 11.
“We started off rough — it was rough for the seniors to lose that many games — but we were trying to show the state who we actually are,” said junior linebacker/tight end Tashi Crofut, who made three catches for 40 yards and one touchdown, and also had an interception and a sack. “We fought back and we beat them. That was an awesome win, a group win.”
“We watched a lot of film, watched what they did, saw how they beat us last time and we knew we had to take that away and that’s what we did,” said senior wide receiver/defensive back Baylor Corbin, who made four catches for 48 yards and also threw a 34-yard touchdown pass. “The scoreboard doesn’t lie. We’re just playing, not only to win the championship, but to prove to people that we should have been in that top bracket.”
“We knew last game that we were the better team and this game that we are the better team … so we really wanted this one,” said senior quarterback Ryan Oliver, who completed 11 of 13 passes for 149 yards and one TD, and also ran 11 times for 19 yards and two more scores. “We had some seniors here from last year so we were playing for them and we really knew that if we played to what we’re capable of, we were going to have a good night.”
With the win, the 22nd-ranked Pacers’ third straight, Lakeridge improved to 5-6 overall after placing sixth in the Three Rivers League. No. 19 Oregon City, meanwhile, saw its one-game winning streak snapped and ended its year at 5-6 overall after placing fifth in the TRL.
Next up, the Pacers will face No. 18 Westview — a 41-0 winner over No. 23 Sprague in its quarterfinal — at noon Friday, Nov. 18, at Westview High School.
“The key is consistency,” said Lakeridge freshman running back Ansu Sanoe, who rushed 18 times for 123 yards and one touchdown against Oregon City. “It doesn’t really matter to us who we play; we just want to go out with a bang.”
“You never want it to be over,” Oliver said. “Everyone talks about how high school football is the highlight of your life, so every week, we’re just taking it one week at a time and we’re having a lot of fun doing it.”
“We’ve got to make it last, especially because I love these seniors,” Crofut added.
The Pacers showed their abilities right from the get-go on Friday, with freshman Maxx Vangelisti taking the opening kickoff back 42 yardsto midfield and setting the table for his team’s first score. From there, Oliver completed four straight passes for 80 yards, then ran twice for four yards, a touchdown and a 7-0 lead less than three minutes into the game.
Next, it was the Pacer defense’s turn, with Lakeridge forcing a fumble by Oregon City senior running back Marcus Jordan that was recovered by junior linebacker Charlie McPhee at the Pacer 39-yard line.
Lakeridge scored just seven plays after that, a drive that saw Sanoe carry three times for 30 yards and Oliver connect with Crofut over the middle for a 16-yard TD and a 14-0 lead with 2:59 to go in the first quarter.
After a trade of punts — OC’s forced when Crofut sacked OC senior quarterback Ben Schneider for a 12-yard loss — the Pioneers drove 53 yards for their first score. On that series, Schneider threw to senior Jake Lopez and Lopez hit senior Charles Logan Fry for 27 yards, Schneider connected with sophomore Xavier Harris for 14 and Jordan swept right for a six-yard score that cut the Lakeridge lead to 14-7 with 8:44 to go in the half.
Undaunted, Lakeridge answered with an 80-yard scoring drive that saw senior Chili Stephens run twice for 24 yards, Oliver hit four straight throws for 17 yards, Sanoe carry three times for 24 yards and Oliver finish it on the ground, running twice for the final 14 yards, including a two-yard dive that gave his team a 21-7 lead at the half.
The Pios didn’t go away easily, however. They opened the second half with a 75-yard drive that saw Jordan carry five times for 22 yards and Schneider complete six straight throws for 55 yards, including an over-the-shoulder throw to senior Ethan Hopwood at the right flag for a TD that cut OC’s deficit to 21-14 with 5:57 to go in the third quarter.
The Pacers hardly blinked, however. Instead, they answered with back-to-back scores that essentially put the game out of reach. First, Lakeridge marched 70 yards in six plays, with Oliver hitting senior wide receiver Jace Swygard for a one-handed catch over the middle that picked up 53 yards, and three plays later, Sanoe going over right tackle to score from six yards out.
Then, after Crofut picked off Schneider at the Pios’ 34-yard line, the Pacers scored again just one play later, with Oliver throwing to Corbin in the backfield and Corbin going over the middle to freshman wide receiver Marcus Post for the 34-yard score and 35-14 lead on the next-to-last play of the third quarter.
“I felt like it was just chemistry. We’ve finally clicked in the last three games,” Sanoe said. “We all got connection and we figured out how to move the ball forward north and south.”
“It’s really nice” Oliver said. ‘We knew we were capable of playing this way, we just hadn’t put it together yet so it’s just nice to be able to come out with a victory like this.”
“It was just awesome. We smacked them,” Crofut said. “That was the memo all week — just come out and smack them in the mouth. It’s just awesome.”
For the game, Jordan carried 18 times for 91 yards, while Schneider completed 19 of 25 throws for 140 yards with one TD and one interception, including four throws to Logan Fry for 45 yards.
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