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Aloha triumphs in thriller at Tigard

Thomas Tyner rushes for 381 yards and 3 TDs in the 36-36 victory


TIGARD — It might be hard to describe all of the thrills, chills and excitement of the Aloha High School football team’s game at Tigard on Friday.

Then again, it might take only one word.

“Crazy,” Aloha senior running back/linebacker Dominic Johnson said with a smile. “That was the craziest game I’ve ever played in.”

And, for the Warriors, it turned out to be crazy good.

Aloha, in a back-and-forth, high-octane thriller that wasn’t decided until a last-second field goal sailed wide left, came away with a 36-34 win over the Tigers in a non-league contest played before a large, loud crowd at Tigard High School.

WE WIN - Aloha senior tailback Thomas Tyner (left) and senior tackle Brayden Kearsley celebrate at the end of their 36-34 non-league victory at Tigard High School on Friday night.

“That was very exciting, and it was a great win,” said Aloha senior running back Thomas Tyner, who, in a spectacular performance, rushed for 381 yards and three touchdowns in 30 carries. “That was very fun. Looking at coach (Chris) Casey’s eyes, you could tell he was really excited.”

Tigard, of the Pacific Conference, saw its season record evened at 1-1 with the setback.

Aloha improved to 2-0 on the early season with the victory, where the teams combined for more than 1,000 yards of total offense.

“That’s a really big win,” Aloha senior lineman Brayden Kearsley said. “They’re a good team and that was a great game. I think our attitude made the difference.”

“There was never a doubt in my mind,” said Johnson, who had both a touchdown run and a quarterback sack in the victory. “I knew we were going to win.”

Surprisingly, neither high-powered offense was able to score in the first quarter of Friday’s game.

Tigard got on the scoreboard first, as senior running back Benny Wick capped off a nine-play, 53-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown dive. Wick then added the extra-point kick to give the Tigers a 7-0 lead with 8 minutes and 5 seconds left in the second quarter.

Aloha soon answered back, thanks to a big play by its defense.

Warrior junior defensive back Maurice McSwain intercepted a Tiger pass and returned the ball 67 yards to the Tigard 11-yard line.

Two plays later, Johnson scored on a two-yard run to tie the game at 7-7 with 3:19 left in the half.

“I just punched it in,” Johnson said.

Tigard came storming back, getting an 8-yard touchdown run by senior Zach Floyd coming with 30.4 seconds left in the period, giving the Tigers a 14-7 lead going into halftime.

But, while it seemed like the late touchdown may have given Tigard momentum going in to the break, it was the Warriors who came out on fire to start the third quarter.

“We knew that we just needed to settle it down and play our game,” Tyner said.

And, Aloha’s game was coming up with big play after big play.

Tyner started the big-play parade with a 74-yard touchdown run, which tied the game at 14-14 before a minute elapsed in the third quarter. The next time the Warriors had the ball, Tyner scored on a 73-yard scamper to give Aloha its first lead of the game, at 21-14, with 8:37 left in the quarter.

“The offensive line did the job and opened the holes,” Tyner said of the group that included seniors A.J. McCollum, Calvin Liggins, Michael Kluge, Ryan Papenfuhs and Kearsley.

On Aloha’s very next offensive play from scrimmage, senior quarterback C.J. Eytel hooked up with McSwain for an 80-yard touchdown on a play-action pass. Mickey York tacked on his fourth extra-point kick of the night to give Aloha a 28-14 lead with 6:43 left in the third quarter.

Tigard answered with a big play of its own, as senior running back Kaz Greene scored on a 70-yard run to trim the lead to 28-21 with 5:51 still remaining in the period.

Tyner then capped off Aloha’s big third quarter with a 45-yard scoring run on the final play of the period. Then, following a Tigard penalty, Tyner ran in the two-point conversion to give the Warriors a 36-21 lead going into the fourth quarter.

In the third quarter alone, Aloha had four touchdowns and 329 yards of offense. Tyner ran for 247 yards on 11 carries in the period.

But it was Tigard’s turn to step on the accelerator in the fourth quarter.

Greene scored on a 41-yard run and Floyd had a 33-yard touchdown run to trim the Aloha lead to 36-34 with 6:41 remaining in the game.

“We thought we had it in the third quarter,” Kearsley said. “But they never stopped fighting.”

Tigard, after getting a stop on defense, took over on its own 18-yard line with 4:46 left to play. The Tigers, with momentum now on their side, started marching the ball upfield. A 28-yard pass from junior quarterback Jett Even to Greene, who made a leaping catch, gave Tigard the ball at the Aloha 8-yard line with 14.1 seconds left in the game.

Following an incomplete pass, Tigard lined up for a potential go-ahead, 25-yard field goal attempt. But Wick’s kick sailed just wide left with 5.1 seconds remaining.

“I couldn’t watch it,” Tyner said of the field goal attempt. “At first, I heard their crowd cheering, then I heard our crowd cheering.”

One play later, Aloha had the victory.

“Perseverance,” Johnson said of what was the key to victory. “And I have to give a lot of credit to Thomas and our line.”

“It was a great atmosphere here tonight,” Kearsley said. “Everyone was really into it. It was a great experience and a lot of fun.”

Aloha, with Eytel passing for 80 yards, had 457 yards of total offense in the contest.

Tigard rushed for 440 yards on 50 carries in the contest. Floyd led the Tigers with 251 rushing yards on 29 carries and Greene added 139 yards on seven carries. Tigard had 545 yards of total offense.

Aloha will be back in action Friday when it hosts Lakeridge in a non-league game scheduled to start at 7 p.m.