Wolves hold on to beat Beaverton

Tualatin jumps to a 23-0 lead only to see Beaverton score 16 fourth-quarter points
by: Dan Brood, JUST OUT OF REACH — A long pass sails just out of reach of Tualatin receiver Matt Losli in Friday’s game at Beaverton. The Wolves, starting strong, scored a 23-16 win over the Beavers in the season opener.

BEAVERTON - Tualatin's first-ever game with Beaverton proved to be a memorable one.

But a late, furious Beaverton rally almost made it a game that the Wolves would want to forget.

Tualatin, in the very first meeting of the two perennial powerhouses, rolled, in dominating fashion, to a 23-0 halftime lead. But Beaverton, coming back strong, scored a pair of late touchdowns to make the final score 23-16 in the season-opening non-league high school football game played Friday at Beaverton High School.

'We just didn't finish,' said Tualatin senior running back Kyle Johnson, who rushed for 255 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 31 carries. 'We have to learn to execute at the end. Beaverton showed a lot of heart and we didn't respond. It's good to learn this lesson at the beginning of the season.'

With the win, the Timberwolves start their season with a 1-0 record. Beaverton, from the Metro League, is off to a 0-1 start to its season.

'That was an interesting first game,' Tualatin senior lineman Jake Wakefield said. 'It was nice to win our first game, and we also learned something. We learned to never let up. This is something that you have to experience. This will help.'

The Wolves controlled the game in the early going, getting points from their offense, their defense and their special teams in the first half.

'We came out really strong,' Wakefield said. 'We smacked them in the mouth. We just need to keep it up for four quarters.'

Junior Jesse Clemente got Tualatin off to a roaring start as he returned the opening kickoff 91 yards for a touchdown. Senior Glauber Mazzo added the extra point kick to give the Wolves a 7-0 lead just 13 seconds into the contest.

The Wolves upped their lead to 14-0 with 6:13 left to play in the first half thanks to a spectacular 64-yard touchdown run by Johnson. On the TD run, Johnson powered his way through the line and then seemed to bounce off of a pair of fallen Beaverton would-be tacklers on his way to the end zone.

'That was just typical Kyle,' Wakefield said. 'The referees nicknamed him the wizard.''

'Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good,' Johnson said with a smile. 'The line did the job up front.'

The Tualatin defense then got into the scoring act.

With the Beavers backed up on their own 6-yard line, Tualatin junior defensive end Woody Toms sacked Beaverton quarterback Austin Potter for a safety, giving Tualatin a 16-0 lead with 3:53 remaining before halftime.

The Tualatin defense appeared strong throughout the first half, holding the Beavers to just six yards of total offense in the opening two quarters while sacking Potter three times.

Johnson, following the blocks of Wakefield and fullback Dennis Ranck, scored on a 1-yard run with 51 seconds left in the first half to give the Wolves a 23-0 lead at the intermission.

Johnson's TD blast culminated an 11-play, 68-yard drive in which Johnson carried the ball seven times for 55 yards and junior quarterback Mick Bies completed an 11-yard pass to junior Matt Losli.

Tualatin, in its first possession of the third quarter, moved the ball to the Beaverton 4-yard line, but the Wolves weren't able to add on to their lead.

Tualatin was still holding its 23-0 lead going into the fourth quarter, but that's when things got really interesting.

The Wolves, following a pair of runs by senior Eddy Brown, moved the ball down to the Beaverton 18-yard-line early in the period. But, on the next play, Beaver junior Joel Gross stripped the ball away from Clemente and sprinted 80 yards down the sideline for the first Beaverton touchdown of the game. Gross then added a two-point conversion run to cut the lead to 23-8 with 10:36 to play in the contest.

Then, following a Tualatin punt, Beaverton was at it again.

The Beavers, led by Potter, moved 73 yards in 12 plays, ending the drive with a 3-yard touchdown pass from Potter to David Mabry, coming on a fourth-and-goal play.

Potter then completed a two-point conversion pass to senior Josh Ahn to make the score 23-16 with 3:07 remaining in the game.

Tualatin's Cory Lerum recovered the ensuing onside kick at the 50-yard line, and Johnson followed with a 31-yard run to the Beaverton 19. But, from there, the Wolves turned the ball over on downs on the Beaverton 18 with 1:15 to play.

The Beavers, however, weren't able to capitalize on their last opportunity. Potter completed a 6-yard pass to Gross, but his next three attempts fell incomplete, giving Tualatin the ball and leaving the Wolves with a 23-16 victory.

'We've got to get ourselves in shape,' Johnson said. 'It's on us. We have the desire to be great.'

Johnson, running behind the offensive line that included junior Zak Richardson, senior Jake McCauley, senior Taylor Pennington, sophomore Robert Kennedy, Wakefield and tight end Michael Albanese, ran for 139 of his 255 yards in the first half.

'I thought we did pretty good on the line,' Wakefield said. 'I was a little nervous about it before the game.'

Bies, in his first start at quarterback, completed three of 11 pass attempts for 21 yards before suffering a shoulder injury in the fourth quarter. Matt Losli had two receptions for 21 yards.

On the defensive side for Tualatin, senior linebacker Jacob Bowe had a pair of quarterback sacks while Toms, Jason GrosJacques and Wakefield each had one. McCauley had a fumble recovery and a tackle for a loss. Cameron Harper and Johnson also had tackles for losses.

For Beaverton, Potter completed 14 of 23 passes for 124 yards.