The unbeaten Tigers advance to the second round of the state playoffs with a 56-21 victory
TIGARD - At halftime of Tigard's state football playoff game with Sprague, Tiger senior Jeremy Moore was mad - at himself.
His Tigard teammates weren't very happy with themselves, either.
But, at the end of the contest, Moore, was all smiles.
Surrounded by friends and fans, Moore, a standout lineman for Tigard, not only got to celebrate his first-ever touchdown, but also an impressive playoff victory.
The Tigers, after leading Sprague by just a 21-14 margin at halftime, turned up their intensity in a big way in the second half, as they sprinted away to notch a 56-21 victory in a Class 6A state playoff first-round game played Friday at Tigard High School.
'That was pretty exciting,' Moore said after the victory. 'We didn't have a good start. I know I was mad at myself after the first half. We just wanted to pull away in the second half. We stepped up and executed.'
'It was a slow start, and that was on us,' said Tigard junior Zach Floyd, who rushed for 105 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the win. 'We were all just angry after that. We came out and got it going in the second half. It was good, and a lot of fun.'
Sprague, the Central Valley Conference champion, finished its season with a final overall record of 5-5. Tigard, the Pacific Conference champion, improved to 10-0 on the season with the win. The Tigers also advance to the second round of the state playoffs. Tigard will next host Southridge (a 56-7 winner over Century on Friday) in a second-round state playoff game, most likely next Friday.
'Oh yeah, we're looking forward to that,' said Tigard senior receiver/defensive back Brandon Wick, who had two touchdown catches and two interceptions in the win over Sprague. 'We're trying to go for four more weeks.'
With that incentive, Tigard got off to a strong start in Friday's game with the Olympians.
In their first possession of the game, the Tigers turned to senior running back Benny Wick and their veteran offensive line. Wick carried the ball eight straight plays for 47 yards, moving the ball to the Sprague 17-yard line. On the next play, Floyd sprinted 17 yards for a touchdown that game Tigard a 7-0 lead with 6 minutes and 6 seconds left to play in the first quarter.
But the Olympians quickly answered back, getting a 73-yard touchdown run by junior Devvon Gage, tying the game at 7-7 with 5:46 left in the opening period.
Tigard regained the lead, at 14-7, when Benny Wick scored on a 1-yard run with 3:40 left in the first quarter.
But Sprague again answered back, getting a 9-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Joe Schaub to junior receiver Austin Johnson to tie the contest at 14-14 with 5:43 remaining in the first quarter.
Tigard didn't waste much time in regaining the lead. A 32-yard run by Floyd set up a fourth-and-goal, 1-yard TD run by Benny Wick, which gave the Tigers a 21-14 advantage with 1:41 left in the second quarter.
Brandon Wick then had the first of his two interceptions to help Tigard take the seven-point lead to halftime.
The Tigers, fired up as they took the field in the third quarter, then took charge in a big way in the second half.
The first time they had the ball after intermission, they quickly moved 74 yards in seven plays, capping off the drive with an 8-yard TD run by Floyd, which made the score 28-14.
A 3-yard touchdown run by Tiger junior Kaz Greene then gave the home team a 35-14 lead with 8:04 left to play in the third quarter.
Tigard upped its lead to 42-14 with 1:23 left in the quarter when senior quarterback Niko Freni teamed up with Brandon Wick on a 25-yard touchdown pass play.
Freni and Brandon Wick hooked up again early in the fourth quarter, this time on a 25-yard scoring pass play, with Wick catching a quick pass on the left sideline, and then following his blockers down the sideline for the score, which gave the Tigers a 49-21 lead with 9:36 left to play in the game.
'I have to give thanks to Niko for those,' Brandon Wick said. 'And to our offensive line. And (senior receiver) Sean McGetrick had some great blocks.'
Tigard capped off the win with the touchdown that had Moore, and many Tigard fans, smiling.
Tiger senior fullback Jesse Wantland looked to be on his way to completing an 18-yard touchdown run when he lost control of the wet, slick ball at the 3-yard line, with the ball bounding into the end zone.
That's where Moore pounced on the loose ball, scoring his first-ever touchdown.
'That's always been a dream of mine,' Moore said. 'I saw it there, and I said 'oh, I've got to get the ball.' Oh yeah, that felt real good.'
As did the win for the Tigers, especially with their dominating second half.
'We really brought up the intensity in the second half,' Benny Wick said. 'We were kind of down in the first half. This was a big win. Sprague is a good team, so this felt pretty good.'
'Getting this one was good,' Floyd said.
Tigard, behind the play of center Matt Franz, guards Jarrad Schulte and Isaac Schimmels, tackles Moore and Ethan Lange, and tight ends Jake Biglow and Conner Olson, rushed for 351 yards on 50 carries as a team.
Benny Wick led the rushing attack with 146 yards on 22 carries. Floyd added 105 yards on 12 carries and Greene had 54 yards on six carries.
Freni completed seven of 11 pass attempts for 129 yards. Brandon Wick had four receptions for 92 yards.
On the defensive side, Brandon Wick helped lead the way with his two interceptions.
'I was just doing my job,' he said.
Senior Peter McCormick also had an interception for Tigard. Junior Anthony Consolo and Schulte each had a quarterback sack and Moore was in on eight total tackles.
For Sprague, Gage rushed for 122 yards on 13 carries. Schaub completed five of 19 pass attempts for 100 yards.
For more on the Tigers' win, more photos and a preview of Tigard's upcoming playoff game with Southridge,see the Nov. 17 issue of the Tigard/Tualatin Times.