It was a game everyone expected to go down to the wire. Certainly, no one outside of Beaverton expected Southridge to pull away from Lake Oswego so easily in the second half of the state semifinal game last Friday at PGE Park.
Only for the first half did the contest live up to its pre-game billing. In fact, the game couldn't have been any more evenly played as the two teams headed to the locker room at intermission with a 7-7 tie.
But the second half belonged solely to Southridge, a team that beat Lake Oswego by one point during the regular season. Surprisingly, the Skyhawks (9-4) didn't do anything fancy to gain their advantage. They just simply ran the ball up the middle, and did it again and again and again en route to an impressive 27-7 victory.
The key was Southridge running back Kevin Coleman, who rambled for 138 second-half yards and a pair of touchdowns. The 6-foot-1, 195-pound senior was a non-factor in the first half, rushing for just six yards on two carries. But Coleman became the go-to back in the second half as Southridge opted for a straight-ahead running style that the Lakers (10-3) couldn't stop.
Coleman set the tone on the first series of the third quarter when he carried 10 times, most of them up the middle, for 72 yards. Coleman capped the drive with a three-yard scoring run that put the Skyhawks ahead for good at 13-7.
That's the way it stayed until midway through the fourth quarter when Coleman struck once again. This time he ended a quick, five-play drive with a 26-yard touchdown run up the middle. With Trevor Harman's extra point, the Skyhawks led 20-7 with 7:22 left in the game.
Southridge got the ball back about a minute later when the Lakers failed to convert a fourth-down pass near midfield. The 'Hawks then chewed up another three minutes while moving the ball inside the Lakers' 20. Southridge put the game away on the next play when Tom Farinacci hit Marcus Mathews with an 18-yard touchdown pass.
Farinacci, who lost his starting quarterback job late in the season but reassumed his spot midway through the first half of Friday's game, completed 7 of 12 passes for 71 yards. He also had two touchdown passes, including a 22-yarder to Tyler Harman just before intermission.
Coleman, meanwhile, finished with a game-high 144 yards on 22 carries. The Lakers were led by quarterback Duncan White, who went 10 for 19 for 132 yards. He had a hand in Lake Oswego's only score of the game, a 54-yard toss to Jon Dulong midway through the first quarter. On that play, Dulong found a seam in the middle of the Southridge secondary and had no one within 15 yards of him.
It ended up being one of the few bright spots for Lake Oswego.
Unfortunately, the Lakers' chances were severely hampered when star running back Will Darkins had to watch most Lake Oswego's offensive plays from the sideline after he aggravated a previous knee injury. He finished the game with 12 carries for 37 yards and 35 of those yards came on Lake Oswego's opening series.
Darkins ran the ball six times during that drive as the Lakers moved to the Southridge 26. But the drive stalled there when White's fourth-down pass was batted down.
After that failed drive, the Lakers moved past midfield just one more time for the rest of the game and it came on Dulong's long touchdown reception, which was the only play of that possession.
After an evenly-played first half (Lake Oswego had 127 total yards to 126 for Southridge), the Skyhawks dominated every statistical category. It was one of those games where the stats didn't lie.