Grant 'Penns' upset of 6A champ Aloha
- Stephen Alexander
- Portland Tribune - Sports
No one in the know about Oregon high school football would raise their eyebrows if you told them that Aloha High running back Thomas Tyner is the best football player in the state.
On Friday night, though, Tyner was outshined by Grant High quarterback Paris Penn, as the Generals upset the defending Class 6A champions 51-27 at the Grant Bowl.
'Thomas Tyner is an amazing athlete,' Grant coach Diallo Lewis said. 'He does some amazing things with the ball in his hands. And Paris did an excellent job of executing the game plan and taking what the defense gave us and making the right reads. I'm really proud of him.'
Penn went 13 of 19 passing for 305 yards and one touchdown. He also rushed 16 times for 146 yards and two TDs. While Tyner caught two passes for 119 yards, the Generals' defense stopped Tyner cold on the ground, holding him to 30 yards and one TD on 13 carries.
Too much Penn and not enough Tyner gave the Generals the resounding victory and a 2-1 record, the same as Aloha's.
'It feels really good,' Penn said. 'It gives me more confidence in my team. I'm not saying I didn't have confidence in them. But it just boosts our confidence higher, and there's no telling where we can go right now.'
During the first quarter, the Warriors dominated the line of scrimmage, and it looked as if they might run away with the game. After Julian Hanlon-Austin kicked a 22-yard field goal on Grant's first drive, it was all Aloha for the rest of the period, as the Warriors took a 13-3 lead.
Aloha defensive lineman Bryson Sullivan picked up a fumbled handoff and ran it 22 yards for a TD. Tyner then scored on a nine-yard sweep to the right.
Grant fought back in the second quarter, though. Bryant Peek Jr. scored on a 9-yard run up the middle.
Aloha went up 20-10 on a 31-yard TD pass from Cory Sinner to Ryan Russo.
A five-yard TD run from Grant's L.J. Sly-Cain made the score 20-17 for Aloha with 2:18 remaining in the half.
On Aloha's next possession, Tyner took a handoff that would change the complexion of the game. He ran up the middle and exploded past the would-be Grant tacklers and was gone, 80 yards to the end zone. A holding penalty called the run back, though, and the reigning Metro League champs were never the same.
With time ticking away, Grant began a drive on the Aloha 41. A spearing penalty brought the Generals within striking distance. Penn then ran in his first touchdown on a five-yard sweep that sent the Portland Interscholastic League team into halftime up 24-20.
Roland Larsen recovered an Aloha fumble of the second-half kickoff. That set up Penn for his second TD, as he took another sweep 17 yards to put Grant on top 30-20.
'Overall, the blocking effort was great tonight,' Penn said. 'If they weren't there, I wouldn't have had anything. I didn't really even do anything. It was just them making plays.'
Aloha made the score close when Benjamin Saechin scored on a one- yard dive.
But Penn gave Grant a 37-27 lead with 9:33 remaining in the third quarter when he threw an 81-yard TD to Jamarr Graves, who broke tackle after tackle before finally breaking free.
'I broke like five of those things, man,' Graves said. 'I wasn't going down. I had caught a couple before, and they caught me from behind. So I just tried to keep running. Keep my feet moving, just keep moving. It worked.'
Peek Jr. made the score 44-27 with his second TD on another nine-yard run up the middle.
Grant put the exclamation point on the win when Daniel Halverson picked off a screen pass at the 30 and took it to the house.
'I finally saw that they were running a screen, and I just stepped in front of it,' Halverson said.
After knocking off the defending state champions, Penn now thinks the sky is the limit for the Generals.
'There's no doubt we're trying to (win a state championship),' Penn said. 'That's our goal. Whose goal isn't the state championship? We're going to go out there and hopefully keep winning games and go try to win the state championship.'