Putnam defenders force four turnovers in a 24-8 victory
MILWAUKIE - The Rex Putnam Kingsmen used the big play and their defense to stop Oregon City 24-8 in a Three Rivers League football game played here Friday.
The Kingsmen rallied around senior tailback Joevonte Mayes to build a 14-0 lead by halftime. Mayes scored twice in the first half, capping off an 80-yard drive with a 9-yard sprint to paydirt, and breaking tackles on a 69-yard run for a second score.
Senior co-captain Paul Stirneman returned the second-half kickoff 85 yards for a third score, and the Kingsmen appeared to have the game in hand, leading 21-0.
'I've got to give my blockers credit [for the touchdown],' said Stirneman. 'They blocked great for me all day.'
'They're a pretty good team,' said Oregon City senior co-captain Jake Nelson. 'They've got some great athletes like Joevonte who can bust the big play if you aren't ready to play. They came ready to play tonight and we didn't.'
It was fortunate that Stirneman and Mayes broke the two big plays for touchdowns, because Mayes left the game shortly after Stirneman's touchdown, when both of his legs cramped up following a 37-yard punt return to the Oregon City 29.
Kelly McLeod used the field position to split the uprights for a 39-yard field goal. But Putnam's offense stalled without Mayes, and the Kingsmen went scoreless the rest of the way.
With Mayes out and 21 minutes still left to play, Oregon City threatened to mount a comeback.
The Pioneers drove 72 yards in 10 plays, with Preston Christensen taking the ball in from the 2. Nelson passed to Trent Hartill for the two-point conversion, and the Pioneers were within 24-8, with 2-1/2 minutes remaining in the third period.
Oregon City got the ball back a minute later when Pioneer lineman Stetson Skipton pounced on a Kingsmen fumble near midfield.
Christensen broke a 35-yard run to move the ball to first-and-goal at the 3. But Putnam linebacker Scotty Oleson claimed the ball for Putnam on a fumble at the 2 to end that threat.
Oregon City threatened again as the game was winding down, but Stirneman leaped for an interception at the Kingsmen 24, and the game was in hand.
Oregon City ended up with a 291- to 257-yard edge in total offense, but four turnovers proved costly. Mayes and junior cornerback Max Hoffman slowed the Pioneers early on with first-quarter pass interceptions.
Mayes finished up with 131 yards in 15 trips with the pigskin. Akeem Olabode carried 13 times for 42 yards. Putnam quarterback Ryan Smith completed 4-of-6 passes for 47 yards.
Christensen, a 5-8, 150-pound sophomore, headed the Pioneers' ground attack with 13 carries for 70 yards; Nelson rushed nine times for 61 yards and completed 11-of-27 passes for 88 yards.
Oregon City sophomore wide receiver Ryan Huntting netted 55 yards on five receptions. Mitch Wagner completed a 30-yard halfback pass in the Pioneers' successful drive to the end zone.
The Kingsmen (1-1, 3-1) return to league action this Friday when they meet West Linn (4-0, 2-0) on the road.
'I've heard [West Linn] might be tough,' said Mayes. 'I guess we'll find out when we watch game films.'
Stirneman commented on the upcoming game with the Lions, 'We don't look up nor down to any opponent. We just play Kingsmen football.'
Mayes commented on the Oregon City game: 'Our playmakers stepped up when we needed them to. We've been waiting all year for Paul Stirneman to step it up and he stepped it up big-time when we needed it.'
'The team played great!' said Stirneman. 'We played hard every down.'
Things don't get any easier for Oregon City. Winless in five games, the Pioneers (0-5, 0-2) host ninth-ranked Lake Oswego (3-2, 2-0) this Friday.