Tigers play better, but they fall just short
Tigard is denied its first win of the season as the Irish holds on for the 17-14 victory
TIGARD - Things certainly seemed to go better for the Tigard High School football team.
But they didn't quite go well enough for the Tigers to get their initial win of the season.
Tigard, which had a combined 13 turnovers in its first two games of the season - a 51-35 loss to Westview and a 55-10 setback at the hands of Lincoln - went turnover-free on Friday, but was still edged 17-14 by No. 4-ranked Sheldon in a thrilling non-league game played at Tigard High School.
'This is better than the last two weeks,' Tigard junior quarterback Ryan Gorton said after the game. 'We're closing the gap on our potential. It's still real tough to lose a game like this, but, oh yeah, we're feeling better. There were way more positives tonight.'
Tigard dropped to 0-3 on the season with the setback. Sheldon, which bested Willamette 55-0 in its season-opener last week, improved to 2-0 with the victory.
Tigard grabbed the first lead in the back-and-forth contest.
Gorton, with a 12-yard pass to junior Patrick Chabreck and a 16-yard run on a scramble, helped move the ball from the Tigard 23-yard line into Sheldon territory.
Then, on third-and-5 from the Irish 42, Chabreck, taking the ball on a pitch from Gorton on a reverse, completed a 42-yard touchdown pass to wide-open senior receiver Chase Dalton.
Junior Daniel Hunter added the extra-point kick to give the Tigers a 7-0 lead with 10 minutes and 59 seconds left in the first quarter.
But Sheldon came right back, answering with an 81-yard scoring drive. Irish junior running back Zach Todd capped off the 11-play march with a 3-yard scoring run. Todd fumbled the ball as he crossed the goal line, but it was ruled that he had entered the end zone before losing the ball. His TD tied the game at 7-7 with 5:54 left in the first half.
The Irish took their first lead of the game, at 10-7, on a 36-yard field goal by senior Jack Dukeminier coming with 32.7 second left before halftime.
Tigard, getting runs of 35 and 14 yards by junior Scott Grady, threatened before the intermission, but a long-range Tiger field goal attempt, coming on the last play of the first half, was blocked, leaving Sheldon with its three-point lead at the break.
The Tigers, however, came back strong in the third quarter.
Operating behind the strong blocking of linemen Sean Field-Eaton, Shawn Halloway, Conor Clark, Marshall Kennedy and Seth Rose, Tigard turned to its running game to regain the lead.
Grady, with runs of 16, 6 and 23 yards, and Gorton, with a 15-yard scamper, helped Tigard move the ball to the Irish 9-yard line, where it had first and goal. But, three plays, later, the Tigers were facing fourth and goal from the 3-yard line.
Gorton, however, got Tigard into the endzone as he scored on a fourth-down bootleg run around the right side. Hunter's extra point kick gave the Tigers a 14-10 lead with 4:12 remaining in the third.
But, again, Sheldon was able to come back. Senior quarterback Alex Besaw guided the Irish on a nine-play, 65-yard march, ending the drive himself with a 1-yard TD on a quarterback sneak, giving Sheldon a 17-14 advantage with 9:40 left in the contest.
The Tigers tried to come back with a rally of their own. Grady, following the Sheldon touchdown, returned the ensuing kickoff 41 yards to the Tigard 44-yard line. A 12-yard pass from Gorton to senior Reed Aden and a 15-yard strike to Dalton helped set up a potential game-tying 40-yard field goal attempt.
The kick, while having plenty of distance, hooked just left of the uprights, leaving the Irish with their three-point lead with 5:01 left in the game.
Sheldon, taking over at its own 20, nearly ran out the clock before turning the ball over on downs to Tigard.
The Tigers started their final drive on their own 22-yard line with 21.5 seconds left, but they weren't able to pull off a last-second shocker.
Still, Tigard players were quick to point out, they left the game feeling better than they had the prior two weeks.
'It's actually think this is the first game we've played a whole four quarters,' Grady said. 'I'm proud of everyone. I can't be mad. I think we'll build on this from here on out.'
Grady was the game's top rusher with 153 yards on 21 carries.
'The offensive line did a great job,' he said.
Gorton completed seven of 18 pass attempts for 61 yards and he also ran for 38 yards on 12 carries.
'The big thing was holding onto the ball,' Gorton said. 'That was one of my goals for tonight - don't turn the ball over. That was a positive.'
Dalton was Tigard's top receiver with three catches for 65 yards. Aden had three catches for 26 yards.
For the Tigard defense, junior Isaiah Ferrer intercepted a Sheldon pass while Grady and sophomore Spencer Hansen each had a tackle for a loss.
For Sheldon, Besaw completed 15 of 22 pass attempts for 203 yards. Todd rushed for 121 yards on 24 carries and senior receiver Matt Arbuckle had seven receptions for 93 yards.