BEAVERTON - And that's why coaches always tell their teams to play hard for four quarters.
After falling behind early, Grant High rallied from a 17-point halftime deficit to stun Westview 34-31 Friday at Westview.
From almost anywhere on the field, Generals quarterback Paris Penn could be heard pumping up his teammates before the season opener.
'Today is the day,' Penn shouted.
It certainly turned out to be.
Penn led four scoring drives in the second half, completing 8 of 22 passes for 162 yards and a touchdown. The senior captain also made use of his running ability, scrambling often and cashing in another score from three yards.
Much of Grant's success came from gashing the defense between the tackles. Sophomore John Malone was called upon to shoulder the bulk of the carries, and he rumbled for 121 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries in his debut. Starting tailback Nathan Halverson, a junior, has a broken fibula in his left leg and will be sidelined for another month.
Senior standout Daniel Halverson played big, too. In addition to his all-PIL linebacker presence on defense, Halverson ran for a touchdown and was the benefactor of a 74-yard bomb that gave the Generals the lead, and ultimately the win, which avenged a 20-13 loss to Westview in last year's opener.
'We showed a lot of heart,' Halverson said. 'In the past, if we got down we didn't come back. I like what I just saw.'
Despite an impressive ovation from fans and a New Orleans Saints-esque pre-game ritual, trouble found the Generals early and often. After Grant allowed a quick touchdown on its first defensive series, the offense fumbled on its first play, setting up another Wildcat touchdown.
The Generals found themselves behind 14-0 with 10:33 left in the first quarter.
Limited by penalties, and 'a few jitters,' as Grant coach Diallo Lewis explained, the Generals were unable to find the end zone with their offense in the first half. In the defensive series after a Westview field goal, Generals junior Dominic Johnson, a 6-0, 220-pound defensive lineman, intercepted Wildcats quarterback CJ Garcia and took it in for a touchdown.
Grant left the field down 24-7 at the half - deflated, but not defeated. Lewis must have been prepared to inspire his troops, because his team emerged from the locker room motivated and opportunistic.
Just as the Wildcats had come out blazing in the first quarter, the Generals showed the same ferocity in the third quarter. Touchdown. Fumble recovery. Touchdown. With only a few minutes gone in the second half, the score was Westview 24, Grant 21.
'They continued to battle,' Lewis said of his players. 'They began to settle down and get comfortable. We have some kids who are first-year starters, so there were a few jitters and some nervousness, but they just continued to fight.'
A short touchdown blast up the middle from Malone gave the Generals their 28-24 edge.
It was short-lived. The Wildcats came roaring back with a long touchdown drive, featuring a 46-yard pass from Garcia to Daniel Abdie, a junior wide receiver. Garcia would finish 22 of 46 passing for 342 yards and three touchdowns.
But Grant would respond again. The following series, Penn hooked up with Halverson for the long touchdown, regaining the lead at 34-31 despite missing the extra point.
'I'm proud of our guys because they never gave up,' Lewis said. 'They continued to believe, and they stayed together, and continued to compete.'