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Forest Grove pummels Franklin

Vikings score on the ground, through the air and on defense during a lopsided 54-7 clobbering
by: zack Palmer, Franklin wide receiver Deshaun Bradley hangs on to the football with one hand while getting upended by Forest Grove's Joey Flanery in the first quarter of Friday's game. The Vikings won 54-7

PORTLAND - Forest Grove battered an overmatched opponent Friday night, scoring in every way imaginable en route to a 54-7 shellacking of Franklin in 6A non-conference football action.

Forest Grove (3-0) scored three rushing touchdowns, three passing touchdowns and two defensive touchdowns while becoming the third straight opponent to crack the 50-point barrier against Franklin. The Quakers (0-3) gave up 55 points against Gresham in their season opener on Sept. 7, then surrendered 56 points to Putnam last week.

The win kept Forest Grove unbeaten on the season, marking the first time in five years that the Vikings have started a season with three straight wins.

'It's a good start,' said Forest Grove head coach Mike McCabe. 'We've been talking all along about how we want to keep our continuity, keep our pace, keep our tempo and keep everything flowing in a positive direction. I think we've done a pretty good job of that.'

The Vikings jumped on Franklin early, taking advantage of stellar field position to punch in from 3 yards out on a Brooks Baumgartner touchdown run with 7:01 left in the first quarter. Forest Grove would pile it on from there, eventually building a 40-7 halftime lead.

Facing third-and-20 from deep in its own territory, Franklin tried to catch Forest Grove napping with a quick kick by quarterback Maclan Epley, but the ball traveled only about 20 yards in the air and the Vikings took over at the 22-yard line. Matt Winterbourne got the Viks inside the 5 with a bruising run, and two plays later Baumgartner kept the ball on an option and ducked into the end zone from 3 yards out for a 7-0 Forest Grove lead.

Baumgartner would push the lead to 20-0 early in the second quarter, throwing a 46-yard touchdown pass to John Grissom and a 25-yard scoring strike to Joey Flanery, the latter coming on the heels of a Dylan Sullivan interception that the senior returned 35 yards.

On Franklin's next possession, Epley was swarmed under by a horde of Forest Grove defenders and the ball squirted loose, allowing Jake Freeman to scoop it up and rumble 14 yards untouched for another score and a 27-0 Viking cushion.

Franklin's only touchdown would come midway through the second quarter on a 20-yard hookup from Epley to Brett Jurgenson.

After that, it was all Forest Grove.

The Vikings scored two touchdowns less than a minute apart to end the first half. The first came on an 8-yard touchdown pass from Baumgartner to tight end Kyle Swaja with 1:21 remaining, and the second was on a 60-yard interception return by Flanery, who picked off a deep throw by Epley and raced back down the left sideline for a 40-7 halftime advantage.

The second half would be more of the same, as Josh Matiaco ripped off a 54-yard run on Forest Grove's first play from scrimmage, and teammate Dustin Hundley capped the quick drive with a 1-yard touchdown plunge to make it 47-7. The final scoring play of the game would come late in the fourth quarter when Mitch Andresen dove into the end zone from a yard out, pushing the Vikings' lead to 54-7.

Forest Grove's defense allowed virtually no yardage all game, with the exception of a long pass from Epley to Dustin Davis in the second quarter and a moderately successful drive in the fourth, long after the Vikings' second-string defense was on the field. That drive ended in a failed fourth down conversion at the 34-yard line, setting up Forest Grove's final touchdown drive of the night.

'We've done a real good job of scouting teams this year,' said McCabe. 'I felt like we had a pretty good concept and a pretty good plan going against these guys as well. They gave us a couple little wrinkles that we adjusted to later on, but we did a good job scouting.

'Our defense is playing real physical and real aggressive. We're pretty quick. We're not big, but we're pretty quick, and we're getting after people.'

While the 3-0 start isn't exactly a shock - Forest Grove's three opponents have a combined 2-8 record on the season - McCabe told his squad after the game to enjoy their success for the next few days before beginning a tough week of practice in preparation for next Friday's game against Grants Pass (4-0), currently ranked No. 7 in the state.

'The kids are happy, but they're really focused. I like that,' said McCabe. 'I like the intensity they have right now. It gets harder and they know it. That's the nice part. It gets harder and they're ready for the challenge.

'We had hoped for (a 3-0 start). It's exactly where we wanted to be going in to Grants Pass, which we knew would be a good team. I don't want to say yes, we definitely thought we would be, but it's definitely nice to be 3-0 right now.'

The Vikings host Grants Pass at 7 p.m. next Friday.

For more detailed coverage of Forest Grove's victory, please check the Sept. 27 issue of the News-Times.