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Wolves fall in battle of unbeaten teams

Lincoln comes away with the 28-7 victory in Friday's game at Tualatin
by: Jaime Valdez, LOOKING FOR SPACE — Tualatin senior Kyle Johnson (5) looks for running room in the game with Lincoln.

TUALATIN - The Tualatin High School football team found itself in a match-up of highly-ranked unbeaten teams.

It also was a match-up of the Timberwolves' straight ahead, run-it-right-at-you offense and Lincoln's spread-the-field, throw-it-all-over-the-place attack.

Lincoln emerged from the match-up as the sole unbeaten squad that night at Tualatin. But the Wolves, while suffering their first loss of the season, are hoping the contest with the talented Cardinals will make them a better team.

'For sure this will make us better,' Tualatin senior linebacker Jacob Bowe said. 'They're a great team. They can play. They're well-coached and have some great athletes. I'd love to play these guys again.'

No. 2-ranked Lincoln, behind the play of quarterback Connor Kavanaugh and his group of speedy receivers, came away with a 28-7 win over the then No. 4-ranked Timberwolves in the non-league game played Friday at Tualatin High School.

'To be the best, you have to lay the best,' Tualatin junior fullback/linebacker Dennis Ranck said. 'This will make us better. We saw some things tonight that we need to work on - it's the little stuff.'

With the win, Lincoln improved to 3-0. Tualatin moved to 3-1 with the loss.

'We know we have to play harder,' Tualatin senior lineman Jake Wakefield said. 'They're good, but they're beatable. We made some key mistakes. We just have to come back and prepare hard for league.'

The Wolves, for almost the entire game, turned to its running attack, featuring senior running back Kyle Johnson, who came into the contest with 507 rushing yards on the season, and a powerful offensive line.

Tualatin, running strong, put together a pair of long offensive drives in the first half, but, each time, the Wolves weren't able to put any points on the scoreboard.

Tualatin, the second time it had the ball, turned to its running game to march the ball down the field. A 15-yard run by Johnson and a 13-yard run by Ranck helped the Wolves move the ball down to the Lincoln 2-yard line, but a personal foul penalty and two quarterback sacks forced the Wolves to try a 46-yard field goal, which sailed wide left.

Tualatin also had a 17-play drive - spearheaded by Johnson, who carried the ball 12 times for 40 yards in the drive - early in the second quarter, but the Wolves ended up turning the ball over on downs at the Cardinal 29.

'We have to work on finishing those drives,' Wakefield said.

Lincoln, on the other hand, was able to capitalize on its scoring opportunities.

The Cardinals took a 6-0 lead when Kavanaugh guided them on an eight-play, 80-yard drive that culminated with a 5-yard touchdown run by junior running back Ross Meinhardt, coming with 11 minutes and 23 seconds left in the first half.

Right before halftime, Lincoln quickly moved 71 yards in seven plays, with Kavanaugh capping off the drive with a 3-yard touchdown run. He also ran in the two-point conversion to up the lead to 14-0 with 20 seconds left in the half.

The Cardinals also struck quickly to begin the third quarter. A 45-yard pass play from Kavanaugh to Jordan Polk set up Kavanaugh's 8-yard TD scramble, upping the lead to 21-0 just 37 seconds into the period.

Lincoln scored its final touchdown on a 2-yard pass from Kavanaugh to senior Ryan Henderson, coming with 8:34 left to play.

Tualatin avoided the shutout, getting a 4-yard touchdown run by senior Eddy Brown with 48 seconds remaining to play. The Timberwolf TD was set up by a 40-yard run by junior Danny Johnson.

The Wolves did seem to run the ball effectively, gaining 261 rushing yards on 61 carries in the game. Kyle Johnson finished the contest with 98 rushing yards on 23 carries. He had 95 of those yards, and 20 carries, in the first half. He played sparingly in the second half after aggravating a foot injury.

Ranck powered his way for 71 yards on 12 carries and junior Danny Johnson had 61 rushing yards on 61 carries for the Wolves.

'The offensive line did a good job,' Ranck said. 'They opened up the holes.'

On the defensive side, Bowe seemed to be all over the field for Tualatin. In addition to trying to chase down Kavanaugh all night, he also blocked an extra point attempt and partially blocked a Lincoln punt.

For the Cardinals, Kavanaugh completed 16 of 28 pass attempts for 261 yards. He also was the Cardinals' top rusher with 58 yards.

'He's real good,' Tualatin junior fullback/linebacker Dennis Ranck said. 'They're a very good team. You have to give them credit. They played us tough. But I hope we get the chance to play them again.'

Tualatin has a week off from competition and will next play Oct. 6 when it opens Pacific Conference play at home against Newberg.

Tualatin has been plagued by injury the past few weeks. Timberwolf junior Mick Bies, the team's starting quarterback, did not play on offense against Lincoln due to injury. With his right arm wrapped, he did play on defense at safety.