The Pacers had their chances but failed to take advantage of those opportunities
The final score might indicate otherwise, but the Lakeridge football team had its chances.
The Pacers, hosting Tualatin in their Three Rivers League opener at Lakeridge High School on Thursday, Sept. 29, had a chance to take the lead early in their game against the Timberwolves.
While that opportunity went unfulfilled, Lakeridge had a couple chances to tie the contest, too, the last of those early in the second half. And the Pacers had a shot at cutting Tualatin’s lead to one score early in the fourth quarter.
But like the other opportunities that preceded them, all of those went by the wayside and the Timberwolves walked off with a 39-21 victory to remain unbeaten in 2022.
“We just need to keep the momentum going,” said junior wide receiver Joey Olsen, who led his team with four catches for 70 yards. “We kept shooting ourselves in the foot, so when we do, we just need to get back up and keep playing.”
“It was kind of up and down,” said senior wide receiver/linebacker Jace Swygard, who added six catches for 37 yards and one touchdown. “Sometimes we would do good, sometimes we’d do bad, but we just need to keep the right mentality and keep going into the next couple weeks.”
“We just shot ourselves in the foot, but I still feel that every week we’re getting better as a team and playing better,” added junior linebacker/running back Ethan Biondine. “Tomorrow we’re going to (get back together) and get ready for next week.”
With the loss, Lakeridge — ranked 10th in the latest Class 6A statewide coaches poll — saw its one-game winning streak snapped and fell to 0-1 in TRL play and 2-3 overall. No. 4 Tualatin, meanwhile, won for the fifth straight time and improved to 1-0 in league and 5-0 overall. Next up, the Pacers will play at No. 6 Tigard (1-0 in TRL play, 5-0 overall) at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 7.
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The T-Wolves started fast on Thursday, taking the night’s opening possession and scoring in just three plays, the capper a 67-yard touchdown pass from Tualatin senior quarterback Jack Wagner to senior wide receiver Richie Anderson that made it 7-0 just 1 minute, 5 seconds into the contest.
Undaunted, the Pacers responded in less than three minutes, starting with a 45-yard kickoff return by senior Chili Stephens. Stephens then carried three times for 15 yards and senior quarterback Ryan Oliver connected on three straight passes for 33 yards, including a 21-yard slant over the left side to senior Baylor Corbin for the TD and a 7-7 tie.
Next up, Lakeridge freshman defensive back Marcus Post picked off a Wagner pass at the Pacers’ 17-yard-line and gave his team a chance to take the lead. But the Lakeridge offense misfired on the ensuing possession and punted the ball away after just three plays.
Tualatin responded with a 55-yard scoring drive that took five plays and just 2:07 off the clock, with Wagner completing two straight throws for 51 yards and senior running back Luke Ash doing the rest, including a two-yard plunge for the TD and a 14-7 lead with 1:07 left in the quarter.
Things got worse for the Pacers before they got better, too. After another three-and-out by the Lakeridge offense, the Timberwolves marched 86 yards to score again, with Ash carrying four times for 26 yards and Wagner connecting with junior Jayden Fortier for a 38-yard TD over two Pacer defenders to make it 21-7 with 9:11 to go in the half.
After a trade of punts, however, the Pacers’ offense showed some life. Lakeridge drove 63 yards in eight plays to score, getting a 21-yard Oliver-to-Olsen completion, two Tualatin personal fouls for 30 yards and a three-yard lob over the right side from Oliver to Swygard for a TD that cut the Tualatin lead to 21-14 at the end of the half.
Whatever momentum that late score might have provided for Lakeridge evaporated immediately at the start of the second half. The Pacers took the opening kick of the third quarter, but got trapped deep in their end, failed to convert and punted the ball away after just three plays.
Tualatin, after taking possession at the Pacers’ 29-yard-line following a short punt, converted in just four plays, with Wagner diving in to score at the end of a nine-yard run to extend the Wolves’ lead to 28-14 three minutes into the half.
The Pacers’ next series ended with an incomplete pass from Oliver to Swygard on fourth-and-three at the Tualatin 45, and from there, the Wolves cashed in quickly. After three plays, Tualatin got a 42-yard Wagner completion to junior Tyson Hunt, and on the next snap, Ash banged into the end zone from two yards out. Along with Wagner’s throw to Hunt on the conversion, Tualatin’s lead ballooned to 36-14 with 4:27 remaining in the quarter.
The Pacers responded with their lone scoring drive of the second half, marching 80 yards in just seven plays, with Oliver completing 5 of 7 throws for 80 yards, including a 25-yard lob to freshman Ansu Sanoe on the right sideline for the TD with 2:44 to go in the third.
Trailing 36-21 with almost 15 minutes left to play, the Pacers got no closer. Tualatin took five minutes off the clock on its next series and added a 32-yard field goal by sophomore Calvin Evans to boost the Wolves’ lead to 39-21
The Pacers’ final drive flamed out when Oliver’s fourth-and-seven throw to Olsen from the Tualatin 22-yard-line fell to the turf incomplete and the Wolves ran out the clock from there.
“I’ll give credit to them,” Biondine said. “They set up their blocks, gave (Wagner) time to pass and set up their good runs. We came out with high intensity, but we’ve got to keep that throughout the whole game, the whole week.”
“It’s the TRL,” Swygard added. “Big plays are going to happen by both teams, but tonight, we just didn’t come out with enough of those big plays. I think we just need to keep practicing, keep working hard and keep coming back with the same mentality. Just keep going, just keep going.”
For the game, the Pacers rushed for just 22 yards, while Oliver completed 24 of 37 throws for 257 yards and three TDs. Senior Lucas Burkeen made six catches for 64 yards, Corbin three for 49 and Sanoe five for 47.
For Tualatin, Ash carried 32 times for 172 yards and two TDs, while Wagner completed 16 of 25 throws for 282 yards and two TDs, with Anderson catching two balls for 87 yards and one score and Fortier making five grabs for 72 yards.
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