The Lake Oswego coaching staff was worried about last Friday's encounter after seeing the way that Putnam running back Jeovonte Mayes ran over and around the Kingsmen's previous two opponents. So Lake Oswego spent most of last week devising a defense that would at least partially contain the fleet-footed Mayes.
For the most part, the Lakers' strategy worked, especially in the first half when Putnam's offense had trouble getting untracked. Mayes did run for 64 yards in that half, but little else went right for the Kingsmen as Lake Oswego jumped to a 28-0 halftime lead. The Lakers went on to win the game 35-14.
Mayes finished as the game's leading rusher with 127 yards on 23 carries, but virtually none of his yardage came easily, thanks to a keyed-up Lake Oswego defense.
'Yah, they were hard-earned (yards),' Lake Oswego coach Steve Coury said. 'But he's a good running back.'
In the end, Lake Oswego was able to overcome Mayes' speed with a multitude of offensive and defensive weapons; and it didn't take long for Lake Oswego to set the tone of the game.
After an exchange of possessions to start the contest, Lake Oswego took a 7-0 lead on a five-yard touchdown run by Will Darkins. That capped a seven-play, 64-yard drive that took only two minutes off the clock.
Darkins also scored Lake Oswego's second touchdown, this time on a 27-yard off-tackle run in which he broke three tackles just past the line of scrimmage. Darkins finished the game with 106 yards on 16 carries.
Lake Oswego pushed its lead to 21-0 midway through the second half when quarterback Duncan White hit Kyle Lavender with a five-yard scoring pass. Then, just before intermission, White got his second touchdown pass, this time on a 6-yard toss to Eric Mann, which made it 28-0 at the break.
'It was a good first half … Our kids were focused,' Coury said. 'But there was a little bit of a lull in the second half.'
Despite experiencing possibly their worst first half of the season, the Kingsmen came out fired up for the second half. It showed on Putnam's first possession of the half, which included three runs by Mayes for 53 yards.
Putnam quarterback Ryan Smith also hit Kurt Snowley for a 13-yard gain to the Lake Oswego 1-yard line. One play later, Smith plunged over the goal line for the Kingsmen's first score of the night, which cut the deficit to 28-7.
But the host Lakers answered with a quick drive of their own, which ended with an 11-yard scoring run by Darkins. He also set up the score with a 24-yard reception that took the ball to the 11.
A short time later, the Kingsmen got their first big break of the game when White threw an ill-advised pass into the flat and Putnam's Paul Stirneman intercepted and ran it back for a 25-yard touchdown to trim the deficit to 35-14.
'Duncan made a bad decision on that one but he also made some good throws during the night,' Coury said White, who went 11 of 19 for 190 yards. 'As the season goes on, he's going to learn and get better.'
After a failed possession by the Lakers, Putnam put together a nice drive that quickly moved the ball from midfield to the Lakers' 1-yard line early in the fourth quarter. But the Kingsmen wound up empty-handed when Smith was intercepted in the end zone by Lake Oswego's Matt Stutes.
From seven yards deep in the end zone, Stutes made what initially appeared to be a bad choice by running the ball out rather than downing it in the end zone. But it turned out to be a good move when Stutes ran the ball back 77 yards to the Putnam 30. Only Mayes' tackle from behind kept Stutes from scoring on the play.
The Kingsmen's next possession also ended in an interception; and Putnam's final effort was thwarted when the Kingsmen came up short on a fourth-down pass to Stirneman.
Afterward, Coury was happy with the win, although he felt his team could have played better.
'We just didn't play with a lot of emotion or a lot of spunk,' Coury said. 'But hey, we're 1-0 (in league) when it really counts.'
The Putnam game marked the return of three Lake Oswego players - Taylor Marr, Bennett Frazier and Billy Lee - who had been injured since the start of the season. All three of them played in Friday's game. But the Lakers also got some bad news when defensive end Ryan Shepherd was sidelined with a pinched nerve. Coury said Shepherd could be out of action for the next week or two.