Turnovers prove the difference in a 31-13 Laker win
If the Lake Oswego Lakers are the best Class 6A high school football team in the state, like the OSAA rankings infer, then the Oregon City Pioneers aren't far behind.
The Lakers prevailed 31-13 in a Friday night game at Oregon City. But the outcome might have been different if it hadn't been for four Oregon City turnovers, three of them that led to Lake Oswego scores.
It was the 43rd consecutive league win for the Lakers, who have gone unbeaten in league and won the Three Rivers League title the last seven years in a row. But you wouldn't have known it by the way the Pioneers battled.
Lake Oswego finished with only a 285- to 271-yard edge in net offense on the night, and it was the second-lowest scoring game of the season for the Lakers (9-0, 5-0). The Lakers entered the game averaging just under 45 points an outing.
Oregon City ran off 65 plays, to 56 by the Lakers.
And the Pioneers held Lake Oswego star running back Steven Long to just 70 yards and one touchdown on 20 carries. Long entered the game as the TRL's top scorer and rusher.
Rain made if difficult to run much of a passing game and passing was the Pioneers' downfall. Oregon City quarterback Landon Martinez put the ball in the air 20 times and nine of the passes were caught. The problem was that four of the nine caught passes were hauled in by Lake Oswego defenders.
Lake Oswego linebacker Jack Anderson set up the Lakers' first touchdown of the game, picking off a Martinez aerial at the goal line and returning it 85 yards. Three plays later, with 4:19 left in the first half, Long raced nine yards to the end zone.
Anderson picked off another wayward aerial late in the third quarter and returned the ball 16 yards to the Oregon City 37. A short time later, Laker quarterback Alex Matthews passed seven yards to Zach Walen for a touchdown and a 24-0 Lake Oswego lead.
And the Lakers sealed the deal early in the fourth quarter, when Erik Tovar skipped one yard to make it 31-0 Lake Oswego. That touchdown was set up when Lake Oswego defensive back Alec Torkelson returned an interception to the Oregon City 28.
The Lakers had only one touchdown drive of any length. Matthews capped off a 62-yard drive with a 36-yard touchdown pass to Stevie Coury just before halftime.
The Pioneers stopped the Lakers at the Oregon City 13 on Lake Oswego's first possession of the game, but Harrison Greenberg put Lake Oswego on the scoreboard with a 31-yard field goal.
Both teams missed on short field goal attempts.
Oregon City senior linebacker Austin Smith was a thorn in the Lakers' side all night, making 10 tackles, three of them for loss. Senior defensive back Timothy Miller slowed the Lakers with an intercepted pass.
Oregon City's scores came in the final 6:38 of play, on a 19-yard run by Louis Wolf and on an eight-yard run by Jacob Tipton.
While the Lakers picked up only 96 yards rushing, Matthews completed 14-of-22 passes for 189 yards.
Wolf carried 20 times for 168 yards to head up the Pioneer attack.
With the loss, the Pioneers (5-4, 2-3) finished fourth in the TRL.
Oregon City hosts Newberg (3-6, 2-5), the No. 7 team from the Pacific Conference, at 7 p.m. Friday in a state playoff play-in game, with a spot in the 32-team state playoffs on the line. The Lakers are idle until the Nov. 11 first round of the playoffs.
In other area Friday night football games, Clackamas fell to West Linn 38-17, Putnam fell to Wilsonville 45-21, and Milwaukie was upended by Class 5A powerhouse Sherwood 56-0.
Clackamas stayed with West Linn for three quarters and trailed by just one touchdown heading into the final period. But the Cavaliers struggled to slow West Linn running back Mason Finnerty, who rushed for 196 yards and four touchdowns, two of them in the fourth quarter.
Clackamas senior Oliver Farnes rushed for 169 yards and scored both Cavalier touchdowns in the losing effort.
Nick Chancellor and Kyle Hadeed had big defensive games for the Cavaliers. Chancellor was in on 11 tackles; Hadeed had five tackles and he claimed two Lion fumbles for Clackamas.
Jacob Iverson picked off a West Linn pass and returned it 55 yards before he was brought down.
Clackamas (1-8, 0-5) finished the Three Rivers League without a win in league play.
The Mustangs found themselves no match for the defending state champion Bowmen, who had eight different players score touchdowns, including two on fumble recoveries. The Mustangs were held to under 100 yards in offense. Milwaukie (1-8, 0-7) finished without a win in the Northwest Oregon Conference.
Putnam did not report results from its game with Wilsonville to this newspaper. The Kingsmen (3-6, 2-5) tied Parkrose (3-6, 2-5) for fifth place in the NWOC.