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Pacer football readies for big test

by: MATTHEW SHERMAN Dylan Gaar dives into the end zone to score Lakeridge’s first touchdown in a 51-14 win over North Salem on Friday.

Lakeridge didn't need to run many plays to put another game away last Friday.

The Pacers' quick-strike offense was on full display again last week against North Salem. The team ran less than 10 plays from scrimmage in the first two quarters but jumped out to a 24-7 en route to a 51-14 win that moved the team to 3-0.

Lakeridge started with great field position when Nick Yun returned the opening kickoff to North Salem's 25-yard line.

The Pacers fumbled on their first play but got the ball back when North Salem was flagged for a facemask.

Three plays later, Dylan Gaar scored on a two-yard run to put Lakeridge up 7-0.

The Pacers then tried an onsides kick but North Salem recovered and then started a nice drive.

Keeping the ball on the ground, the Vikings went 52 yards and scored on a one-yard run, tying the game.

"We're probably going to see that a lot this year with teams trying to run the clock and keep it away from us so that was good to face," coach Tom Smythe said.

Lakeridge turned the ball over on its next possession and North Salem continued to chip away at the clock, picking up small chunks of yardage with its running game until Mark Grothe came up with an interception on fourth down, returning the ball to midfield.

"It was a good test for us to face a little adversity early in the game. We had some turnovers tonight and we know we have to pick it up," Blake Dutton said.

Two plays later Tom Knecht hit Dutton on a short pass and Dutton reversed the field and ran for a 34-yard touchdown.

"Blake could score practically every time he touches the ball. He is extremely fast," Smythe said.

North Salem fumbled to Lakeridge on its next possession which resulted in a 33-yard field goal made by Nick Sotta.

The Vikings moved backwards on their next drive with a penalty and a sack by Storm Olund. The Pacers took over at North Salem's 36-yard line and Knecht hit Dutton for another short pass that Dutton took to the house, making it 24-7 at the half.

"We had great blocking downfield. That's something we've been working on all week and I was able to find some lanes," Dutton said.

North Salem looked like it had crawled back into the game to start the third quarter. Santano Sauseda had a long touchdown run but it was called back on a penalty and the Vikings were forced to punt.

Lakeridge would score again toward the end of the third quarter. Another good punt return gave the Pacers a short field, taking over at the Vikings' 13-yard line.

The Pacers scored in just three plays with Gaar getting into the end zone again from two yards out.

Then the wheels came off for North Salem as the Vikings fumbled on the first play of their next possession and Lakeridge quickly capitalized.

Knecht hit Dutton in the end zone for a 13-yard score, giving Dutton 11 touchdowns for the season and making the score 38-7.

Lakeridge turned the ball over again to end the third quarter but got the ball back quickly.

Corbin Bird picked off a first down pass and returned it 73 yards for a score.

The Pacers then cleared the bench and got virtually the entire roster into the game.

Lakeridge added one more touchdown on a 12-yard run by J.R. McLaughlin and North Salem would find the end zone once more in the final minute of the game.

Lakeridge now gears up for its toughest test of the season so far. The Pacers will travel to face the defending state champions in Aloha.

The Warriors are coming off a tough loss to Grant but the game should prepare Lakeridge for the start of league play.

"We'll find out who we are and the kids are excited to play," Smythe said.