The deck couldn't have stacked against West Linn much more than it was last Friday. The Lions were coming off their first loss of the season, a game in which they were thoroughly outplayed by Lake Oswego and found themselves facing a fired up Milwaukie team coming off its first win of the year.
To make matters worse, the game was held on Milwaukie's crowned grass field and it was Homecoming night for the Mustangs, which added to the home fans' enthusiasm.
Still, West Linn took the Mustangs' best shot and overcame a sluggish first half to win 36-21.
There were some nervous moments for the Lions. Miscues and big plays from the Mustangs allowed the home team to tie the game at 14-14 at the half and the Lions knew that the longer Milwaukie stayed in the game, the more its confidence would grow.
'They have some good athletes and they're a better team than their record would indicate so you really have to go out and take it to them otherwise they'll give you problems,' Lions coach Ron Chappell said.
But West Linn stuck with what was working to grind out the victory. Milwaukie struggled to stop the Lions on offense all night. Only a few uncharacteristic turnovers could thwart West Linn and the Lions put those bad plays behind them in the second half.
'The offense was great tonight. I thought the offensive line really did a nice job and when we took care of the football we were tough to stop,' Chappell said.
Kyle Quinn scored both of West Linn's first half touchdowns on runs of 10 and eight yards respectively but a fumble in the second quarter, his first of the season, cost the Lions a chance to take a two score lead.
Milwaukie capitalized on the turnover and scored with three minutes remaining in the half to tie the game at 14.
But West Linn opened the second half with an important defensive stop and then used runs by Quinn and Kyle Kraus to move down the field.
'We just came out a little (ticked) off. This is the second Homecoming in an away game we've had to face. It's always a challenge,' Quinn said.
An 11-yard pass from Mychal Zito to Kraus moved the Lions into the red zone and West Linn took the lead for good two plays later on a 10-yard pass to Justin Monahan in the end zone.
Milwaukie moved into West Linn territory on its next drive before a botched snap on a trick play gave the Lions the ball back on downs.
The Lions converted on the first play of the fourth quarter when Quinn scored again, this time from four yards out. On the ensuing extra point attempt, Monahan, the holder, took a high snap and opted to run with it, going untouched into the corner of the end zone for a two-point conversion.
But the Mustangs weren't done. The Lions succeeded in slowing down Milwaukie's running game, holding Mike Collazo and Andre Dickson to under 140 yards on the ground.
However, Milwaukie quarterback Andrew Lee turned in one of his best outings of the season going 12 for 18 for 169 yards.
Much of that yardage was picked up by receiver Paul Hubbard who had six receptions for 106 yards on the night.
The Mustangs mounted a methodical six-minute drive in the fourth quarter, culminating in a three-yard run from Collazo to make it a one-possession game again.
But the Lions quickly put things on ice. On the very first play from scrimmage on their next possession, Quinn found a huge hole in the line and rambled 65 yards untouched for the game's final score.
It was an important win for West Linn as it cemented its second place standing in the league and got the team back into the win column.
'That's what the whole focus was this week, just getting revenge and trying to get back on a roll,' Quinn said.
The team still has an outside shot at obtaining a tie for the league title if it can knock off Oregon City on Friday and if Lakeridge beats Lake Oswego in two weeks.
'The kids know what the situation is but the main thing is that we just want to win out,' Chappell said.
But for now, the Lions are simply looking to stay healthy for their final two games, against the Pioneers and McKay, to gear up for a playoff run.
For the game, Quinn had 221 yards rushing and four touchdowns. Zito was 11 for 15 for 158 yards with a touchdown and an interception and Monahan had nine catches for 130 yards and a touchdown.