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Beavers push big-play Grant to the limit

But the Generals pull out one more long TD to win by 35-28 on Friday
by: Miles Vance UP FOR GRABS — Beaverton’s Nick Houlemard (left) and Brandon Cornwell try to intercept a deflected Grant pass during their team’s 35-28 loss on Friday.

PORTLAND - On the verge.

Beaverton was right there, knocking on the door of an upset victory in its Friday afternoon contest at Grant High School. But missed opportunities - the Beavers got stopped inside the Generals' 7-yard line three times - were the story of the day in Beaverton's 35-28 non-league loss.

The loss ended the non-league portion of Beaverton's schedule with a 2-2 record while Grant improved to 3-1.

'We did good, but we could have done better,' said Beaverton senior noseguard Pita Tafea. 'It was just little mistakes. We've just got to stay more aware of everyone.'

'If we just execute the plays that were open, we would have won,' added senior wide receiver Devon Adams, who led his team in receiving and also returned a Grant punt for a 37-yard touchdown in the second quarter. 'We'll see them again and we'll get our execution down.'

Besides the Beavers' missed chances, the Generals' big plays were key to the day's result. Grant scored four touchdowns of 63 yards or longer on Friday, but none of those were bigger than Jack Fitzpatrick-Blackmun's 73-yard TD catch from quarterback Paris Penn with 1 minute 27 seconds left in Friday's fourth quarter.

Beaverton had just tied the game at 28-28 on a 3-yard scoring run by quarterback Kyle Eckrosh and a conversion run by Brandon Cornwell with 3 minutes, 14 seconds left in the contest.

But Grant answered in just three plays, with quarterback Paris Penn connecting with Fitzpatrick-Blackmun near the left sideline on a third-and-18 play from the Generals' 27-yard line. From there, Fitzpatrick-Blackmun broke a Beaverton tackle and raced away to score, giving his team a 35-28 lead with 1:27 left on the clock.

Despite the loss, the Beavers were proud of their efforts and determined to keep getting better.

'One thing I learned is that we're ready for any challenge,' Tafea said. 'We're not going to back down to anyone.'

'Now that we're going into Metro and we're starting to face better teams, instead of down we're starting to play up,' Adams said. 'It's all about team unity and intensity and we're finally getting those things done so I'm excited.'

The Beavers led early on too, taking the day's opening possession and marching downfield to take a 7-0 lead when Nick Houlemard scored on a 3-yard touchdown run just 2:21 into the game.

Grant answered midway through the period with the first of its four long TDs, though. Facing second-and-six from the their own 25-yard line, the Generals sent senior running back LJ Sly-Cain up the middle and he broke through the line cleanly and raced 75 yards to the end zone for the score.

Next, Beaverton misfired on consecutive possessions deep in Grant territory, stopped once after getting a first down at the Generals' 8-yard line, then a second time after notching a first down at the Grant 4.

But Adams made sure his team got back in the end zone soon after, following up a stop by the Beaverton 'D,' taking a short Daniel Halverson punt at the Grant 37, cutting right and breaking a tackle for a 37-yard return and a 14-7 lead.

Grant tied the game just 20 seconds later, though, getting a Penn-to-Sly-Cain screen pass that turned into a 63-yard score and tied the game at 14-14.

Grant notched yet another big play to open the third quarter, with Penn completing a pass to Cordell Harris in the left flat and Harris breaking tackles en route to a 65-yard touchdown on the second play from scrimmage.

Beaverton's Ershad Mahmood set up his team's next score when he picked off a Penn pass near midfield, and nine plays later, Malik Fontleroy-Smith went 12 yards up the middle to score and - after a missed PAT - bring his team within 21-20.

Early on that drive, Eckrosh completed 3-of-4 passes for 27 yards, Cornwell ran for one yard, Houlemard picked up seven, and Fontleroy-Smith four more to move the ball to the 12.

Grant extended its lead to 28-20 when Sly-Cain scored on a 2-yard run with 5:19 left on the clock, but Beaverton came back yet again, getting the aforementioned 2-yard TD from Eckrosh and Cornwell's conversion run to make it 28-28 with just 3:14 left to play.

But the Generals had one last arrow in their quiver and they used it, with Penn connecting with Fitzpatrick-Blackmun down the left sideline for the 73-yard game-winning score with just 1:27 left to play.

For the game, Fontleroy-Smith rushed eight times for 42 yards, Eckrosh completed 18-of-41 passes for 214 yards, with Adams making six catches for 86 yards.

For Grant, Sly-Cain carried six times for 135 yards, Penn went 6-of-13 passing for 219 yards, with Harris making two catches for 69 yards and Sly-Cain two for 68.

On Friday: Beaverton will open Metro League play at Southridge at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

To see a complete photo gallery from this game, go to www.milesvance.exposuremanager.com