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Big-play Tigers sink Valiant playoff hopes


Clatskanie scores four TDs of 25 yards or longer in 41-22 win

BEAVERTON — Valley Catholic left it all on the field.

The Valiant football team, hosting Lewis & Clark League foe Clatskanie on Saturday, fought for its playoff life in the rain and mud at Valley Catholic High School, but couldn't counter the Tigers' big plays and ultimately fell short 41-22.

by: MILES VANCE - TO THE HOUSE - Liam Walsh of Valley Catholic leaps over a defender to score during his teams 41-22 home loss to Clatskanie on Saturday.

The loss dropped VC's league record to 1-2 (2-5 overall) and ended the Valiants' hopes of reaching the Class 3A state playoffs for the first time in program history. Valley Catholic will end its season at 7 p.m. Friday with a game at Rainier. The Tigers improved to 3-1 and second place in L&C play (4-5 overall).

“I thought we played well,” said Valley Catholic sophomore tight end/defensive back Kazuma Lane, who made an interception and returned it for a touchdown. “We broke down on some of those big plays, but overall, there was a lot of improvement.”

“The mental mistakes, we've got to fix those,” added junior lineman John Tate, who made a number of big defensive plays and also helped VC rush for 188 yards. “They may come with youth, but we've got to fix up those mistakes.”

The Tigers grabbed a 7-0 lead on their first possession, driving 70 yards in 12 plays to score, a series kept alive by two Valley Catholic pass interference penalties and capped by Nick Donaldson's five-yard touchdown pass to Kyle Sharek with 4:37 to go in the opening quarter.

The Valiants drove deep into Tiger territory on their ensuing series, but fell short on a fourth-and-eight try from the Clatskanie 23. The Tigers struck back to score just three plays later when Donaldson connected with Colton Puzey on the right side and Puzey sped 69 yards to make it 14-0 on the fifth play of the second quarter.

Valley Catholic mistakes set the table for Clatskanie's next score too, with Valiant running back Clay Kemper fumbling the ball away on the second play of its next series. From there, Donaldson connected with Puzey at the left flag for a touchdown and a 21-0 lead with 8:32 to go in the half.

But the Valiants didn't wilt. Indeed, they came back with a 76-yard scoring drive highlighted by Carter Buuck's 47-yard run and a 19-yard Buuck-to-Ben Klaas completion, and capped by Buuck's four-yard scoring run around left end with 4:57 to go in the half. Kemper added the conversion run to make it 21-8.

The Tigers pushed their lead back to 27-8 when Donaldson hit Sharek in the left flat and he broke a tackle to create a 37-yard TD with 2:57 remaining in the half.

There was more excitement ahead for VC, however. After turning the ball over on downs at the Clatskanie 38 late in the half, Lane and the Valiants struck back, Lane picking off a Donaldson pass on the sideline and taking it back 40 yards to score with 28 seconds on the clock. Liam Walsh then broke through on the conversion run and VC's deficit was just 27-16 at the half.

VC couldn't convert that strong finish into second-half momentum, though. The Tigers fought back with two unanswered TDs in the third quarter and put the game on ice at 41-16. The first of those scores came when Cedet Bailey took a counter for 25 yards and a TD on the first series of the second half. The second Clatskanie score came after another VC fumble when Micah McLoed went over the left side and raced 39 yards to score.

Buuck fumbled away another chance to score at the Tigers' one-yard line five minutes into the fourth quarter, but the VC defense forced a three-and-out, and four plays later, Walsh broke a 14-yard run for his team's final score.

We just need “maturity,” Lane said. “We're a lot of freshmen and sophomores, but next year, I think we'll be a lot better.”

“We're taking steps, big steps,” Tate added. “We took a big step this year with the wins and we need to keep stepping forward, keep stepping up. We can't go backward.”

For the game, Walsh carried 20 times for 86 yards and Buuck 14 times for 52 more. Buuck went 3-of-8 passing for 31 yards, with Klaas making one catch for 19.

McLoed carried nine times for 65 yards to lead Clatskanie, while Donaldson went 9-of-13 passing for 188 yards, five of those to Puzey for 107 yards.

To see a complete photo gallery from this game, please go to milesvance.exposuremanager.com.