Southridge rallies from a 7-0 deficit to beat Lake Oswego 27-7 on Friday
PORTLAND - Playoffs are about big plays.
Playoffs are about redemption.
Playoffs are about heroes.
And on Friday night, Southridge senior quarterback Tom Farinacci embodied all of the above.
Farinacci, who lost his starting job at the end of the regular season, came off the bench to relieve the injured Kellen Mastrud in the second quarter, engineered four scoring drives and led the unranked Skyhawks to a 27-7 upset of Lake Oswego in the Class 6A state semifinals at PGE Park.
'It's a great day. It's a great day,' said Farinacci, who completed 7-of-12 passes for 71 yards and two touchdowns. 'We're going to Autzen Stadium. It feels great.'
'Kellen got hurt. They went up a touchdown, but Tom came in and played amazing,' said senior wide receiver Marcus Mathews, who finished with four catches for 45 yards and a TD. 'I couldn't have been more proud of Tom. Could not have been more proud.'
The victory lifted Southridge's record to 9-4, sent the No. 3 team from the Metro League into the first football state title game in its nine-year history and sent the Three Rivers League champion Lakers packing at 10-3.
While Farinacci got the job done at quarterback, senior running back Kevin Coleman bashed his way to 144 yards and two touchdowns, with all but six yards of that total coming in the second half.
'It's amazing,' Coleman said. 'We went from being the No. 3 seed to going to the championship.'
'It's the best feeling in the world,' added senior fullback/linebacker Paul Werhane. 'There are two teams left and we're one of them.'
That said, there were plenty of exciting and anxious moments early in Friday's frigid contest at PGE Park.
Both teams mounted long - and ultimately fruitless - drives that ate up all but two plays of the first quarter, and then, after Mastrud left the game with an injured right foot - he broke four bones in his foot and will not be available to play in Saturday's title contest - both teams traded punts to open the second.
But it didn't take LO long to get on the scoreboard after that. Facing a first down on his team's own 46-yard line, Lake Oswego quarterback Duncan White threw long down the center of the field and connected with senior wide receiver Jon Dulong for a 54-yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead.
Farinacci and the Skyhawks misfired again on their next series, but the Southridge 'D' held, with Steve Calvert notching a key third-down sack of White that cost the Lakers 10 yards and forced a punt.
This time, operating from midfield with 1 minute, 14 seconds left in the half, Farinacci and the Skyhawks got it right. Farinacci ran a draw for 6 yards, completed two straight throws for 18 more, then ran a keeper for 3 more and a first down at the Laker 23-yard line. Then, facing fourth down after three straight incompletions, Farinacci threw to the right corner of the end zone where senior wide receiver Tyler Harman outjumped Adam Rosa to make a two-handed catch and score with four seconds in the half. Trevor Harman's extra point sent the game to the break at 7-7.
'That gave us a lot of momentum,' Harman said. 'It got back seven points. We were down 7-0 and (getting) those points going into the second half really helped.'
'At first (after Mastrud got hurt), no one really knew what was going on,' Mathews said. 'But when Tom got in there, we were like 'Great to have you back buddy. Let's go do this.''
Also helping, considerably in the second half, were Coleman and the Skyhawk offensive line. Coleman carried the ball nine times in 11 plays to open the second half, picked up 72 yards and scored the go-ahead touchdown on a 3-yard dive midway through the quarter. But Trevor Harman's PAT try missed just right and Southridge's lead was just 13-7.
But Jordan Barta's sack of White stopped LO's next series, and a White fumble and a second Calvert sack ended the Lakers next try two minutes into the fourth.
Southridge then tacked on the insurance TD it wanted so badly, driving 62 yards behind Coleman (46 yards on four carries) and two Laker penalties, with Coleman scoring on a tackle-breaking 26-yard jaunt up the middle with 7:22 left in the game. Trevor Harman's PAT extended the Skyhawk lead to 20-7.
Tyler Harman ended LO's next possession by diving to knock away a fourth-down White pass to Franklin Forward near midfield, and Southridge then put the game out of reach with a 46-yard scoring drive. Coleman and Werhane pushed the ball to the 19, and then, on third-and-six, Farinacci threw to Mathews on a post pattern and Mathews made a fully extended two-handed grab for the score.
'I was just ready,' Farinacci said. 'You always need to be ready to go in when the time calls for it. I'm just glad we won the game.'
'I'm glad he kept his head up through all this adversity,' Tyler Harman said of Farinacci. 'You've always got to be ready to come in at any time. He still works just as hard and he's just as confident.'
While the game was close for a half, Southridge's players said they knew they'd win once they hit the second half.
'Anybody that's seen us knows what we are going to do,' Coleman said. 'We just come out and pound it in the second half. We could tell after the first play (of the second half) that we had them.'
'We just line up and pound it,' Werhane said. 'After the first drive in the second half, we knew we could run on them all day.'
Also critical to the Skyhawks' success was their ability to contain LO star running back Will Darkins. Darkins ran for 35 yards on his team's first series, but left the game soon after when he took a shot to his already tender knee. Darkins returned offensively after missing most of the second quarter, but managed just six yards the rest of the game.
'We knew from the first time we played them that Will Darkins is tough,' Tyler Harman said. 'We had our hands full but we … did a great job stopping him.'
'Our defense knew Darkins wasn't 100 percent. We just flew around and made stops,' Werhane said.
Bill Wilson contributed to this story.