Cavaliers rally late to beat Putnam

The Kingsmen struggle when Mayes is sidelined by severe leg cramps
by: craig mitchelldyer, Putnam star running back Joevonte Mays (29) breaks a tackle during Friday's 26-14 loss to Clackamas. The Kingmen were dealt a blow late in the third period when Mayes was sidelined with a leg cramp.

MILWAUKIE - The Rex Putnam Kingsmen gave the Clackamas Cavaliers all they could handle Friday night in a showdown with Clackamas for the Three Rivers League's fourth and final berth in the Class 6A state football playoffs.

Clackamas prevailed 26-14, but the outcome might have been different had not Putnam star running back Joevonte Mayes left the field with leg cramps with two minutes remaining in the third quarter.

Mayes entered the contest as the state's sixth-leading rusher (995 yards in seven games), and the TRL sprint champion proved a handful for the Cavaliers every time he went wide with the football.

But without Mayes in the backfield Putnam's offense sputtered, and the Cavaliers took charge.

Although he didn't have a single carry in the game's final 14 minutes, Mayes still finished with a game-high 93 yards rushing in 22 trips with the pigskin.

The score was tied at 14-all 1-1/2 minutes into the fourth quarter when Max Hoffman capped a 10-play Kingsmen passing drive with a 3-yard dash to paydirt.

But with Mayes missing on defense as well as on offense, Clackamas answered back, covering 81 yards in just four passing plays for the go-ahead and winning touchdown.

Clackamas quarterback Ryan Cook found all-league wide receiver Ricky Cookman in the end zone on a 41-yard pass, and the Cavaliers were on top 20-14.

A Kingsmen punt took a Clackamas bounce and the Cavaliers were back in business with possession at the Clackamas 45. Seven plays later, Cook found Cookman in the right corner of the end zone on an 11-yard pass, and the Cavaliers had their 26-14 winning margin.

'Big props to the defense,' said Cookman. 'The defense turned it around.'

Clackamas' defense did shine, stopping the Kingsmen at the 1 with a goal line stand in the first period, and forcing the Kingsmen to attempt a 26-yard field goal after a third-period stop.

But Clackamas' passing game and Joevonte Mayes' disabling leg cramps were equally important.

Cook, who had 128 yards passing in the first half, finished with 311 yards passing on the night, completing 23-of-34 attempts for three touchdowns.

Cookman was at the top of his game, hauling down eight passes for 151 yards and three touchdowns; Clackamas wide receiver Kylle Walkoski made eight catches for 100 yards.

Clackamas running back Brad Wagner had to work for his yardage. The 5-11, 180-pound running back picked up 75 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries.

Putnam quarterback Ryan Smith completed 19-of-27 passes for 172 yards in the losing effort.

The first half was an evenly contested battle. After Clackamas' first-quarter defensive stop at the 1, the Cavaliers marched 93 yards in 16 plays, only to have Putnam safety Kurt Snowley pick off a pass in the end zone.

Putnam scored first with 1:58 remaining in the half, when Mayes capped a 10-play, 72-yard drive with a 7-yard sprint to paydirt.

But Clackamas had an answer, riding Cook's passing arm to the end zone in just five plays. Cook hooked up with Cookman on a 14-yard touchdown pass, and it was a 7-7 tie at halftime.

Clackamas took a 14-7 lead early in the second half, marching 81 yards in just eight plays, with Wagner taking the ball in from the 7.

The Kingsmen rode Mayes' legs on a 13-play drive inside the Cavalier 10. But the drive stalled, and Kelly McLeod's 26-yard field goal sailed just wide of the mark.

A shanked Cavalier punt gave the Kingsmen another chance. And they responded, driving 48 yards for a 14-14 tie, as Mayes watched from the sidelines.

But that was the Kingsmen's last hurrah, as Cook and receivers Cookman and Walkoski rallied the Cavaliers to victory.

The win put the Cavaliers at 2-3 in league (4-4 overall) with their only league game remaining a Nov. 3 contest at winless Oregon City.

'We knew we had to win this to get into the playoffs,' said Cookman. 'We're going to be a sleeper team in the playoffs. So watch out!'

The Kingsmen slipped to 1-4 in league (4-4 overall). They host cross-town rival Milwaukie (1-7, 1-4) in this Friday's regular season final.

'We played with heart,' said Putnam team co-captain Paul Stirneman. 'We did everything we could to win.'