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Second-half miscues lead to Lakers' 31-20 loss to Jesuit

by: Vern Uyetake, Lake Oswego’s Jon Dulong shows his dexterity by making a one-handed grab during last Friday’s non-league game against Jeusit. Lake Oswego held a 13-10 lead but mistakes led to three unanswered touchdowns and a 31-20 victory for the Crusaders.

Lake Oswego football coach Steve Coury wanted his team to play a tough non-league schedule this season, but the coach might have gotten even more than he bargained for as the Lakers lost their second straight game last Friday with a 31-20 setback against defending state champion Jesuit.

But no one was hanging their head as Lake Oswego prepared for Friday's league opener with Putnam.

'We had a lot of guys that played pretty well,' Coury said of his team's effort at Jesuit. 'Hopefully we'll put it all together six, seven weeks down the road … I feel real good about where we're at, to be honest with you.'

Lake Oswego led the Crusaders 13-10 after a game-opening 77-yard touchdown run by Will Darkins and a pair of short field goals by Pat Barry. But then the Lakers became their own worst enemy by turning the ball over three times in the second half. All three turnovers led to Jesuit scores that essentially put the game away.

One of the key plays was a fumbled reception in the third quarter that led to Raphiel Lambert's 15-yard scoring run. That put Jesuit ahead for good at 17-13.

Then there was a third-quarter interception, 'and the (Jesuit) kid made a great play,' Coury said. That led to another Lambert scoring run, which made the score 24-13. In addition, there were a couple of dropped balls that thwarted Laker chances later in the game.

'We did things that you can't do against good teams,' the coach said. 'But we're optimistic after watching (Jesuit), because we know we can play with anybody.'

Lake Oswego (1-2) was in the driver's seat for quite a while during that game. It started off with Darkins' long touchdown run to the start the game. The Lakers then drove the ball deep into Jesuit territory two more times in the first half but wound up settling for field goals.

Getting two more touchdowns there really would have changed the complexion of the game. Still, the Lake Oswego defense did its part by yielding only a touchdown and a field goal through the first two and a half quarters. Then the wheels came off with all of the miscues.

It would have been a devastating loss for some teams, but Coury and his players hardly seemed fazed.

'We're mabye as confident as you can be after having lost two games,' the coach said. 'If we had played (weak teams) and won the first three games, we would wonder, 'how good are we? … But we (now) have a lot better idea about who we are as a team. And we're a lot better because of it.'

Despite his two interceptions, Lake Oswego quarterback Duncan White still had a good game. He completed 12 of 25 passes for 244 yards. He also had a touchdown pass, which came late in the game, to tight end Kyle Lavender. White's main target was wide receiver Franklin Forward, who turned in a career performance with seven catches for 174 yards. In addition, Darkins rushed for 150 yards on 17 carries.

Certainly, the Lakers had enough individual efforts to win a big game.

'Franklin played well, and the quarterback played well. Darkins played his normal game and (fullback) Christian Dunham was very, very good. And Matt Stutes (who had an interception) played really well at safety,' the coach said.

As a team, the Lakers held a 396 to 325 advantage in total yards, but those numbers are a little deceiving after seeing the way Jesuit ran the ball. The Crusaders were led by Paul Weatheroy, who picked up 144 yards on 26 carries before injuring an ankle. Spelling Weatheroy was Lambert, who ended up with Jesuit's final three touchdowns and had 80 yards on 14 carries.

'They're very good at running the ball. They're very physical,' Coury said of Jesuit's ground attack.

But Coury figures his team could have limited the effectiveness of Jesuit's running game by taking better care of the ball.

'If you can get them down 21-7, then they have to play a different game,' the coach said. 'Then they have to do what's not nearly as comfortable … but we couldn't take advantage of that.'

It doesn't get any easier for Lake Oswego, which will face Putnam's Joevante Mayes on Friday in the league opener for both teams. Mayes, who is one of the top backs in the state, already has a 200-yard game to his credit this season. Coury knows he'll be hard to stop.

'He's a good looking kid,' the coach said. 'We've got to wrap him up and make sure he doesn't get away from us.'

But the Kingsmen are not just a one-man team and they could cause some problems in the TRL this year.

'They're physical and they're experienced. Someone's going to have to beat them in November or December before they're not the champs.'

That game will be played Friday at 7 p.m. at the district stadium.