The Pacers lead most of the way until OC scores with 1:24 left to play.
The numbers were on Lakeridge’s side.
The Pacers football team — facing Oregon City at Pioneer Memorial Stadium on Friday, Oct. 14 — rushed more times for more yards and for a greater average than the Pioneers.
They also completed more passes, threw for more yards and nearly doubled OC in first downs.
But none of those numbers added up to a win.
Instead, Lakeridge saw its 14-point fourth-quarter lead disappear down the stretch. Oregon City scored 15 unanswered points in the game’s final 10 minutes, 21 seconds and won the game 29-28 after scoring a touchdown and two-point conversion with just 1:24 left on the clock.
“I believe we are good enough to win, but there’s something that’s just not clicking,” said Lakeridge senior running back Chili Stephens, who carried 18 times for 95 yards. “I don’t know what it is, but hopefully, we’ll figure it out, go back to the drawing board and just get better.”
“Everyone was playing hard. Everyone gave their best effort, it just didn’t turn out the way we wanted it to,” said senior wide receiver/linebacker Jace Swygard, who caught three passes for 50 yards and also came through with a late-game sack. “We gave our effort and it just didn’t really turn out. I don’t really know what to say.”
“I think that we had good momentum to start with, but mental errors just killed us,” added freshman running back Ansu Sanoe, who finished with six carries for 41 yards and two touchdowns, and also caught two passes for 29 yards.
With the loss — No. 27 Lakeridge’s third straight — the Pacers fell to 0-3 in Three Rivers League play and 2-5 overall. No. 19 Oregon City, meanwhile, snapped its two-game losing streak and improved to 1-2 in TRL play and 4-3 overall. Next up, the Pacers host No. 1 West Linn (3-0 in TRL play, 6-1 overall) at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 21.
The Pioneers took the lead against Lakeridge on their second series, driving 53 yards for the game’s first TD and a 6-0 lead with 9:12 remaining in the second quarter. Senior Marcus Jordan carried five times for 24 yards and sophomore quarterback Ben Schneider connected with junior Clay Martineau on an eight-yard slant for the score.
Suitably shocked awake, the Pacers rallied into the lead on their next series, launching a stretch that saw them score touchdowns on four of their next five possessions. The first of those scores came at the end of an 80-yard drive that saw Stephens carry three times for 20 yards, senior quarterback Ryan Oliver complete four straight throws for 31 yards, and Sanoe cap the series with a two-yard dive that — along with the first of four extra point kicks by junior Keaton Emmett — gave the Pacers a 7-6 lead with 5:17 to go in the half.
The Lakeridge “D” did its part next, with senior Riley Yaker’s sack of Schneider helping force an Oregon City three-and-out.
After that, starting from their own 17, the Pacers scored in just 10 plays, a drive highlighted by five Oliver completions for 66 yards, including a 25-yard connection over the middle to Swygard, and three plays later, a nine-yard throw to junior wide receiver Joey Olsen for the score and a 14-6 lead with 41 seconds remaining in the half.
Lakeridge kept the heat on at the start of the second half, too, taking the opening possession of the third quarter and — after a 46-yard kick return by sophomore Zyon Floyd — scoring in just six plays. Stephens picked up 16 yards on two carries, and after that, Oliver hit four straight passes for 24 yards, the final nine on a slant to senior Baylor Corbin for the score and a 21-6 lead with 9:28 left in the period.
After a trade of punts, however, Oregon City began to work its way back into the contest. Pio senior Jake Lopez jump-started that process when he took an Oliver punt at the OC 38 yard line and returned it 48 yards to the Lakeridge 14.
From there, Jordan picked up three yards on first down, and on third-and-seven, Jordan went around the left end for 11 yards and dove into the end zone to score. When Schneider connected with junior Brayden Welch on the conversion throw, the Pioneers had closed within 21-14 with 4:39 left in the third.
Undaunted, the Pacers answered with a 72-yard scoring drive that included three Stephens runs for 16 yards, four Oliver completions for 40 yards and — after an Oliver TD throw to Swygard was called back — a 22-yard Sanoe run over the right side for another TD and a 28-14 lead with 10:28 to go in the game.
But the Pacers wouldn’t score again and the Pioneers struck back in just over a minute. With Oregon City facing second-and-two from its own 40, Schneider threw down the right sideline and connected with Lopez for a 60-yard score that brought OC within 28-21 with 9:24 remaining to play.
While the Pacers failed to score on their ensuing series, it didn’t appear to matter when the Lakeridge “D” followed with a stop of its own — thanks in part to Swygard’s eight-yard sack of Schneider — and got the ball back with 3:48 left to play.
The Lakeridge offense, however, short-circuited in just three plays — Oliver got sacked by OC junior Ryder Swanson on third down — and punted the ball back to the Pioneers at their own 45 with 2:45 remaining.
From there, Oregon City raced 58 yards in just seven plays and 1:23, with Schneider hitting six of seven throws along the way, including a 32-yard strike to senior Ethan Olson and a 10-yard connection to junior Thomas Borden on a slant over the right side for the touchdown.
The Pioneers then doubled down on the conversion try, running a double-reverse pass that ended when junior Ben Rose threw to Schneider for a 29-28 lead with 1:24 left to play.
The Pacers tried to push back in the remaining seconds, with Oliver completing three throws for 46 yards to the OC 37. But from there, with just 19 seconds to go, Oliver got sacked by Pio senior Matthew Bozarth. Then, on fourth-and-13 from the 40, Oliver’s last-gasp pass got intercepted by Rose at the goal line to end the game.
The stunning loss left the Pacers almost speechless.
“I don’t know what it is. I don’t know, but hopefully, we’ll figure it out,” Stephens said. “We’ve just got to keep fighting.”
“We’ve still got a season to play,” Sanoe said. “It’s never quitting, no matter what the score is. Keep on going 100% no matter what. Keep on fighting till the clock runs out.”
“Our offense was doing good, our defense was doing good, but I guess in the third quarter, we just slowed down and they came back,” Swygard said. “We need to come together more as a team.”
For the game, Oliver completed 27 of 34 passes for 248 yards, two scores and one interception. Olsen made six catches for 63 yards and one score, while Corbin added five grabs for 52 yards and another TD. Pacer junior Tashi Crofut had an interception in the loss.
For OC, Schneider hit 15 of 23 throws for 183 yards, three TDs and one interception. Lopez had two grabs for 68 yards and one score, while Olson caught three balls for 44 yards. Jordan carried 19 times for 109 yards and one score.
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