It wasn't exactly pretty, but it was enough to keep Lakeridge's football team undefeated. The Pacers overcame 130 yards worth of penalties and some uncharacteristic turnovers in a 35-27 victory over Oregon City last Friday.
Although the score doesn't appear to indicate a valiant defensive effort from the Pacers, the outcome could have turned out differently were it not for a pair of terrific goal line stands turned in by a Lakeridge defense that was constantly playing under the shadow of its own goal posts.
'We kept giving them good field position. In the first couple of games the offense has been doing a lot of the work and this game I thought the defense played well and the offense put them in a tough predicament,' coach Rob Kool said.
Clinging to a 21-20 lead in the middle of the third quarter, Lakeridge was stopped deep in its own territory and set up a very sloppy few minutes of football. The ensuing punt was blocked and recovered at Lakeridge's 22-yard line.
On the next play, the Pioneers fumbled the ball and it was recovered by Lakeridge.
Then, on the very next play, Pacer quarterback Robbie Kool went back to pass and his throw was tipped and picked off by Trent Hartill, who rambled to the 1-yard line.
Oregon City appeared destined to take its first lead of the game but, on first and goal, the snap was fumbled and recovered by the Pioneers for a two-yard loss.
A pair of runs were stopped short and, on fourth and goal at the 4, quarterback Jake Nelson's pass fell incomplete, giving possession back to Lakeridge.
'We really stepped it up and kept pushing them back. That's the dedication we need,' linebacker Grant Neely said.
The Pacers picked up one first down on its next possession but a short punt and a late hit penalty gave the Pioneers the ball at the Lakeridge 27-yard line early in the fourth quarter.
Again Oregon City moved into the red zone and had a first and goal opportunity at the 9-yard line.
But an incomplete pass and a sack by Neely forced the Pioneers to attempt at 29-yard field goal to take the lead. Oregon City's kick missed well to the left and Lakeridge continued to cling to its one-point lead.
'I think we underestimated them a little bit. We came out strong early but then we just gave them life,' Neely said.
The Pacers then mounted one of their best drives of the night. Starting at their own 20-yard line, they overcame a fumble that was picked up and advanced for a 12-yard gain and yet another penalty.
Zach Young busted a 36-yard run to the Oregon City 25-yard line and, two plays later, Taylor Young made a juggling catch over his defender in the end zone for a touchdown.
Oregon City then went three and out and the Pacers put the game away. Zach Young had another big gain of 29 yards and Kool capped the drive with a 13-yard scramble into the end zone with under two minutes to play.
The Pioneers pieced together one final drive, going 51 yards and scoring with one second remaining, but Lakeridge recovered the ensuing onside kick to seal the victory.
In the opening minutes of the game, it would have been difficult to guess that things would still be up in the air in the fourth quarter.
After a nice return to midfield on the opening kickoff, Zach Young took the first play from scrimmage 53 yards into the end zone but it was called back on a holding penalty.
'We were very undisciplined today to be honest. We made a lot of mistakes. But, despite that, the kids buckled down in the fourth quarter and did what they had to do to win a game when they weren't playing well,' Rob Kool said.
Lakeridge was soon faced with fourth down and 11 and opted not to punt. Kool then dropped back to pass and hit Taylor Young at the 7-yard line in double coverage and Zach Young scored on the next play.
When the Pioneers took over they fumbled their first snap and the Pacers recovered on the 36-yard line.
Kool then scrambled for 23 yards and Young scored three plays later to make the score 14-0 just four and a half minutes into the contest.
'I think we got up early and the kids kind of thought this would be an easy game and Oregon City, to their credit, did some real nice things,' coach Kool said.
The Pacers seemed to have Oregon City stopped again on its next possession as Neely's first sack of the game set up a fourth and nine.
But, on the punt, Lakeridge was flagged for an illegal substitution, giving the Pioneers a first down. An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty moved Oregon City further down the field before Ryan Hunting made a great catch in the end zone on fourth down.
At the beginning of the second quarter, the Pacers received the ball again, this time at their own 18-yard line. But a Kool interception gave the Pioneers the ball in great field position once again and they quickly capitalized to tie the game.
'We need to focus on being disciplined and re-emphasize what needs to be done on the field when things aren't going well,' Rob Kool said.
Late in the second quarter, Lakeridge mounted another drive keyed by Zach Young's 27-yard sprint. A personal foul moved Lakeridge back from the goal line and the Pacers recovered their own fumble again before Kool scored on a draw play on fourth down from a yard out to regain the lead.
With under two minutes to play, Lakeridge stuffed Oregon City on three straight plays and got the ball back at midfield. But two incomplete passes and a 21-yard loss on a sack forced the Pacers to punt from deep in their own territory.
After originally muffing the punt, Oregon City recovered and ran down to the 16-yard line, scoring one play later.
The extra point was left short leaving the Pacers with a 21-20 lead.
The win kept Lakeridge unbeaten and allowed the team to move up to No. 10 in the Associated Press poll.
Zach Young had 184 yards rushing and Kool added 78 while passing for an additional 108. The Pacers take on the West Linn Lions at home this Friday.
West Linn is also unbeaten this year and is coming off a huge 28-23 victory over Clackamas.