Call it the Bushman Bowl. Judging by the number of congratulations and hand shakes that Pacers coach Rob Kool received after his team's 34-24 victory over Clackamas last Thursday, this win was important to a lot of people involved with the Lakeridge program.
Former Lakeridge coach Joe Bushman, who left the Pacers two years ago, is now running the Cavaliers' program and Thursday's game marked the first time he faced his former team as a head coach.
'We're still real close to coach Bushman. There's a real friendship there. For our kids it was a big win for them to come over here against a heck of a program,'coach Kool said.
The Pacers rebounded from a 12-0 deficit and rattled off 28 unanswered points as their offensive line manhandled Clackamas for the better part of three quarters.
With the enormous victory, Lakeridge has all but clinched a playoff berth and still has a shot at obtaining a tie for the Three Rivers League title.
Early on, it appeared that the Cavaliers would not only have the last laugh, they would do it without breaking much of a sweat.
Clackamas took the opening kickoff and marched 80 yards down the field. Trevor Liske ran into the end zone from 18 yards out to put the Cavaliers on the board first but the extra-point attempt was blocked.
Lakeridge went three and out on its first possession and quickly punted. The Pacers stopped Clackamas and moved into Cavalier terrirtory on runs by Zach and Taylor Young but, on third and five, Robbie Kool threw an interception to thwart the drive.
Clackamas then rode the legs of Brad Wagner down the field and he rambled for a 14-yard touchdown one minute into the second quarter. However, the two-point conversion attempt failed, leaving the score at 12-0.
Lakeridge got the ball back needing a solid drive to keep the game from getting out of hand early.
Zach Young responded by busting a 43-yard run on the drive's opening play. Then, on third and 10, he took a delayed hand-off and picked up the first down.
Young carried the Pacers down to the 1-yard line where Kool put Lakeridge on the board with a quarterback sneak.
The Pacers used that momentum to force a three and out on defense and then mounted an 11-play, 49-yard drive.
'We got a couple of nice stops and I think our kids started tackling a bit better and they really didn't give up,' Kool said.
Then, on third and 13, Kool found Jeff Hutchins in the corner of the end zone for an 18-yard strike to give the Pacers their first lead of the game with just over a minute to play in the half.
'We were really emotional in this game. Words can't really explain it. Coach Bushman, even though he was only here for two years, really brought back the tradition of Lakeridge football and this was a huge win for us even though it was against our ex-coach,' Taylor Young said.
Lakeridge began the third quarter with the ball and quickly picked up where it left off. Kool connected with Alex Gay on another third-and-long play and the Pacers moved down to the 18-yard line before a sack set up fourth and 18.
Lakeridge opted to go for it and Kool threw a pass towards the back of the end zone and Taylor Young went over a defender's back in double coverage for a touchdown in what was the play of the night.
'Some of our big kids made some plays and that was the difference in the game, I think,' Kool said.
Clackamas was rattled after giving up three straight touchdowns and, after a first down, the Cavaliers were stopped again. Needing a spark, Clackamas attempted a fake punt but the pass fell incomplete.
Once again, the Pacers had good field position near midfield. Zach Young quickly notched a 19-yard run and, on another fourth down, Kool scrambled out of trouble for a 10-yard gain and a first down.
Lakeridge frustrated Clackamas all night with its ability to convert crucial third and fourth-down plays to keep drives alive.
Three plays later, Zach Young scored on a two-yard run and the Pacers had a 28-12 lead.
A big sack on third down by Grant Neely thwarted Clackamas' next drive but Lakeridge couldn't come up with a back-breaking score.
To open the fourth quarter, Clackamas quickly marched down the field, aided by a 40-yard reception by Kyle Walkosi. Four plays later, Wagner scored from two-yards out but, once again, the two-point conversion attempt failed, which left it a two-possession game.
Lakeridge attempted to burn some clock on its next possesion but was stopped after picking up a first down.
Walkosi highlighted Clackamas' next drive with a pretty 49-yard catch and run that set up a seven-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Cook to injured receiver Ricky Cookman, who saw limited time for Clackamas on Thursday.
The Cavaliers attempted another extra point but this one missed wide, making the score 28-24 with just under four minutes to play.
Clackamas attempted an onside kick but Taylor Young fell on the loose ball at the 50-yard line.
'We were kind of down on ourselves but we just needed to get some things figured out and turned it around,' Taylor Young said.
Lakeridge proceeded to hand the ball off to Zach Young three straight times before he broke a 30-yard run for a touchdown with under two minutes to play.
'Most coaches realize that games are won with the offensive line and when we had a lead we put the game in their hands and they got it done,' Kool said.
Clackamas regained possession but on its first play, Cook was picked off by Cam Gerson which sealed Lakeridge's biggest victory of the season. In the second half, the Pacers held Wagner to just 11 yards rushing, after he picked 112 in the first half.
For Lakeridge, Zach Young had 197 yards on 28 carries.
The Pacers take on Putnam this Friday but the team knows how big their showdown with Lake Oswego may be two weeks from now.
'This was a playoff game tonight. We have to win next week and then we'll be in the playoffs and if we win the next two games we go into L.O. and that will always be an emotionally charged game,' coach Kool said.