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Lakers outlast Grant, in semis again

by: Vern Uyetake, Lake Oswego’s Kyle Lavender, right, hauls in a long scoring pass that gave the Lakers an early 7-0 in last Friday’s state quarterfinal game against Grant. Lake Oswego had to overcome two second-half deficits to secure a 20-19 victory. The Lakers will now meet Southridge in the semifinals. That game will be played Friday at 8 p.m. at PGE Park. It will mark Lake Oswego’s third consecutive appearance in the semifinals.

Maybe it helped that the Lake Oswego football team had been there before.

No one on the Lake Oswego side seemed too worried when the Lakers fell behind by five points midway through the second half of last Friday's state quarterfinal game against Grant. The Lakers, who have won their share of big playoff games over the last six years, simply responded with an efficient seven-play drive - one that ended with a touchdown run by Sam Buckingham and gave the Lakers the lead for good.

Lake Oswego's defense, which had trouble stopping Grant for most of the second half, then contributed a series of clutch plays down the stretch to preserve 20-19 victory.

The Lakers (10-2), who had to overcome deficits two times in the second half to pull out the victory, will play Southridge in the semifinals Friday at 8 p.m. at PGE Park. It will mark the Lakers' third trip to the semifinals in as many years. A victory there would put the Lakers in the state championship game for the third time in five years.

It seems the Lakers have a knack for doing whatever it takes to win the big games.

'Our kids are resilient. I've said that before. But they just don't let things get to them,' Lake Oswego coach Steve Coury said after the game.

It was a game that very easily could have ended in Grant's favor. The Generals (11-1) have a bunch of talented skill players but none of them stood out the way quarterback Andre Broadous did.

Broadous is probably one of the best scrambling quarterbacks the state has ever seen, but the Lakers actually did a good job of containing him during the first half, limiting him to just 33 yards rushing and 42 yards passing.

The second half was a much different story, however. Broadous set the tone on the third play of the half when he ran for a 72-yard touchdown on what was essentially a broken play. Broadous appeared to be tackled behind the line of scrimmage but somehow squirted free and bolted around the left end, where he broke two more tackles. By the time he evaded another defender in the secondary there was no stopping him.

'He's the real deal,' Coury said of Broadous. 'He's hard to tackle. A lot harder than it even looks on film.'

That touchdown gave Grant its first lead of the game at 13-7. But that's where the score stayed as Lake Oswego's Kyle Lavender blocked the extra-point attempt. It was a play that would loom large later in the game.

Unfazed, the Lakers responded with their longest drive of the game, and possibly the season. The 89-yard, 19-play drive included eight runs by Will Darkins and six by Buckingham. There were two pass completions during that march, but one of them, a 10-yard reception by Jon Dulong on a fourth-and-seven play, might have been the most important catch of the season.

Not only did it keep the drive alive, but it put the Lakers in scoring position at the Grant 14. Three plays later, Darkins, who was running on a tender knee, scored on a one-yard run. Pat Barry added the crucial extra point and Lake Oswego had a 14-13 lead with 1:42 left in the third quarter.

Then it was Grant's turn and the Generals responded with a 77-yard drive that was capped by Broadous' seven-yard touchdown run. But a failed two-point conversion attempt left Grant's lead at 19-14 with 8:58 left in the game.

The Lakers then needed just seven plays to answer back with Buckingham going the final 14 yards up the middle for a touchdown. The Lakers also went for two and missed, leaving the Lakers' lead at 20-19 with 5:43 left.

That was plenty of time for the Generals, who quickly moved to the Lake Oswego 28, thanks to a trio of runs by Broadous for 30 yards and a 15-yard face-mask penalty on the Lakers.

But the Generals lost yardage on their next three plays (including a sack by the Lakers' Darren Lind) and faced a fourth-and-14 play with 50 seconds left. For a moment it seemed Broadous would be able to scramble for the needed yardage. Instead, he threw long and none of his receivers were in the area as the ball fell incomplete.

The Lakers then ran out the clock with three kneel-down plays. Until Grant's final series, the two teams had managed to score on every one of their second-half possessions.

'They responded and we responded. It was just a great high school game. It was almost a shame that someone had to lose,' Coury said.

Lake Oswego's final defensive stand culminated what had been a night of big plays and one of the biggest ones was turned in by Lake Oswego center Sam Gerwe on the final play of the first half.

The play started when Lake Oswego quarterback Duncan White tried to thread a pass to one of his receivers in the right corner of the end zone. A completion would have given the Lakers a 14-7 lead at halftime. Instead, the ball was intercepted by Grant's Paul McCoy, who weaved his way through the entire Lake Oswego offense before being tripped up by Gerwe after a 79-yard return. If not for Gerwe's tackle, McCoy probably would have scored.

'Oh, he would have scored easily,' a relieved Coury said.

One series earlier, Grant had tied the game at 7-all when McCoy turned a screen pass that appeared to be stopped for a loss into 26-yard touchdown reception.

The Lakers had the first score of the game, a 35-yard touchdown reception by Lavender late in the first quarter. The score came on a fourth-and-two play when Grant had nine defensive players stacked along the line of scrimmage in an attempt to stop an apparent running play. Instead, offensive coordinator Karl Halberg made a gutsy pass call and White threw a perfect over-the-shoulder pass that was just beyond the reach of Broadous, who was defending on the play.

'They said before the game that all we do is give Will the ball the whole time,' Lavender noted. 'Then we came out with a pass and they weren't ready for it.'

For the record, Lavender said he got a little nervous during Grant's final drive.

'I was nervous,' he said. 'But I've been playing with these guys since fourth grade and I knew they would pull through. That's what they always do.'

Broadous, who could make any defensive player nervous, finished with a game-high 157 yards rushing on 16 carries. He added another 72 yards passing while completing 6 of 10 attempts.

Darkins, who had to be helped from the field at one point after taking a hard shot to the knee, led Lake Oswego's two-pronged rushing attack with 87 yards on 27 attempts. Buckingham added 57 yards on 10 carries and White completed 11 of 16 passes for 162 yards.