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Wolves fall just short

Football -- McMinnville grinds out a 15-13 victory over Tualatin in the Pacific Conference clash
by: JAIME VALDEZ, ON THE CHASE — Tualatin defensive lineman Jason GrosJacques (73) tries to chase down McMinnville quarterback Jeff Sublet in last Thursday’s game. The Grizzlies held on to get a 15-13 victory.

TUALATIN - McMinnville's mentality toward Tualatin's vaunted rushing attack was simple: Bend, but don't break.

The Grizzlies carried it out to near perfection and used two long scoring drives in the second half to upset the No. 7-ranked Timberwolves 15-13 last Thursday at Tualatin High School.

McMinnville (4-2, 2-0 Pacific Conference) came in wanting to keep the score close at halftime and keep the clock running in the second half. The Grizzlies did both, trailing 6-0 at halftime then controlling the ball nearly 19 of the 24 minutes in the second half, including seven during a drive that resulted in a touchdown and 15-6 lead early in the fourth quarter.

'I thought we executed real well and kept our composure,' McMinnville coach Greg McAnally said. 'We didn't want to give up the long touchdown run. The kids did a great job with that.'

Standout running back Kyle Johnson did break off a 58-yard touchdown run with 4:23 left in the first quarter to give Tualatin a 6-0 lead. But the Grizzlies bottled up the Wolves' ground game for much of the remainder of the game, holding them to just 28 rushing yards in the second half.

'We knew they were a fine team,' Tualatin coach Craig Hastin said. 'They hit and did real well against our run game.'

Especially in the second half when the Wolves (4-2, 1-1) went three-and-out on their first two drives and were intercepted on the third play of their next possession. That gave the McMinnville time to catch up, which the Grizzlies did with scoring drives of 75 and 63 yards.

McMinnville took the lead for good by marching to paydirt on the opening possession of the second half. The Grizzlies pounded the ball up the middle to running back Austin Nichols to cross midfield, then quarterback Jeff Sublet went to the air, finding Nichols for gains of 16 and 36 yards.

That set up running back Josh Armstrong, who bulled his way into the end zone for a 5-yard touchdown run. Sublet tacked on the extra point for a 7-6 lead with 8:15 left in the third quarter.

McMinnville later struck again with a 14-play drive that took more than seven minutes off the clock. The Grizzlies converted a third-and-9 near midfield when Sublet was pressured then stepped up in the pocket and took off for 13 yards.

McMinnville also faced fourth-and-4 from the Tualatin 18 and came through again when Sublet, who was 8 of 12 for 126 yards, found wide receiver Mychal Lemon for a leaping 11-yard reception along the Wolves' sideline.

Lemon, who attended Tualatin High School the past three years, had three catches for 36 yards against his former team.

Three plays later, Armstrong, who had a team-high 58 yards on 20 carries, plowed up the middle and used a second effort to break the plane for a 3-yard touchdown run with 7:50 left in the game. The Grizzlies missed the extra point attempt, but Tualatin was flagged for running into the kicker and an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and Armstrong busted into the end zone from a ½-yard out for the 2-point conversion to make it a two-score game at 15-6.

Tualatin went 48 yards on seven plays to get the first needed score. Senior running back Eddy Brown kept the drive alive when he fought for 11 yards on a run to the right on 3-and-10 at the Grizzles' 32. Two plays later McMinnville was flagged for pass interference in the back of the end zone. That set up Johnson, who ran over a tackler at the 1 and scored from 5 yards out with 2:59 left.

Glauber Mazzo's extra point made it 15-13, but the Wolves wouldn't get the ball back. Sublet found fullback Cory Milton wide-open downfield for a 30-yard gain and the Grizzlies got another first down to secure the victory.

McMinnville was limited to 44 total yards in the first half. The roles reversed in the second half when Tualatin managed just 64 yards, 52 of which came on its scoring drive.

'We had our chances; we just didn't convert,' Hastin said. 'Their big guys pounded up the middle real well.'

That proved to be effective in subduing the Wolves' offense. Johnson finished with 152 yards on 25 carries, but just 12 in the second half.

It also helped on the other side of the ball as the Grizzles rolled up more than 100 yards through the air and on the ground after halftime.

'We knew what they were going to do,' McAnnally said. 'We made some adjustments at halftime and kind of hit more inside.'

That was Tualatin's game plan throughout. It paid off in the first quarter when Johnson bursts through a hole and went 58 yards untouched for a touchdown and 6-0 lead.

A bad snap forced the Wolves to try to run for the conversion, which was stopped well short of the goal line.

Tualatin ran 10 straight plays up the middle on a 6 ½ minute drive midway through the second quarter. But McMinnville made a stand at its 19, stuffing Brown for a loss of 1 on fourth-and-1 as the Wolves took a 6-0 lead into halftime.