Tigers win again as they triumph over Grizzlies

Football -- Tigard moves to 2-1 in Pacific Conference play with its 44-26 victory

The Tigers had a very efficient night on offense.

They stepped up on defense. And the special teams shined as well. It all added up to another win for the Tigard football team.

The Tigers, after dropping their first five games of the season, picked up their second straight victory by running to a 44-26 win over McMinnville in a Pacific Conference game played Friday at McMinnville.

'This was a big win,' Tigard coach Mitch Sanders said. 'This week, the kids came out and played hard.'

With the victory Tigard improved to 2-5 on the season and, more importantly, they moved to 2-1 in Pacific Conference play. The Grizzlies fell to 4-3 on the season and to 2-1 in league games. The Tigers and McMinnville are now tied for second place in the Pacific Conference standings, trailing first-place Canby (3-0).

Junior quarterback Ryan Gorton helped lead the Tigard offense in the win at McMinnville. He completed nine of 13 pass attempts for 200 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions.

'Definitely this week he took a big step forward,' Sanders said. 'He really threw the ball. I was calling him `The Gunslinger.''

Senior receiver Chase Dalton was one of Gorton's main targets on the night. He had four catches for 67 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Junior Scott Grady had three receptions for 67 yards and a score.

Meanwhile, senior Justin Lehner led the rushing attack. Running in an offensive set that included a pair of tight ends in Patrick Chabreck and Justin Van Horn, Lehner rushed for 160 yards on 20 carries.

'He had an outstanding game,' Sanders said of Lehner, who also had a 63-yard touchdown reception. 'And the offensive line had just a great game.'

On defense, Tigard, getting strong games from linebackers Van Horn and sophomore Spenser Hansen, held the powerful Grizzly running game to just 88 yards on 33 carries.

'The guys were just flying around on defense,' Sanders said. 'It was the entire unit.'

The special teams also did their part.

'What set us apart were special teams,' Sanders said. '(Kicker) Brian Kostol and the coverage teams kept them back there all night. Jonathan Rivera and Keoni Rasmussen did an awesome job covering kicks.'

Dalton also partially blocked a McMinnville punt.

McMinnville took a 6-0 lead in the game on a 5-yard touchdown pass from Jeff Sublet to Cory Milton. But Tigard answered back, taking a 7-6 lead on a 24-yard TD strike from Gorton to Dalton later in the first quarter.

Kostol followed with a 28-yard field goal. McMinnville came back on a touchdown pass from Sublet to Warren Lambert, giving the Grizzlies a 12-10 lead. But, soon after, Lehner had his touchdown catch and the Tigers wouldn't trail again.

Tigard, which led 18-12 at halftime, tacked on a 19-yard touchdown pass from Gorton to Grady and a 10-yard touchdown run by Gorton in the third quarter, which ended with the Tigers holding a 30-19 advantage.

Lehner had a 76-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter, and Gorton completed a 22-yard scoring pass to Dalton to wrap up Tigard's victory.

In addition to his big game passing the ball, Gorton also rushed for 49 yards on five carries.