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Tigers power their way past Southridge

Football: Tigard advances to the quarterfinals with a 48-17 win over the Skyhawks
by: DAN BROOD ROOM TO RUN — Tigard junior running back Benny Wick sprints through a hole opened up by linemen Jeremy Moore and Jarrad Schulte during the Tigers’ 48-17 state playoff victory over Southridge on Friday.

TIGARD - The juggernaut that is the Tigard High School football team just seems to keep right on rolling.

And not even a talented, red-hot Southridge team, hungry for revenge, could stand in the Tigers' way.

The Tigers, who opened the season with a 49-41 win over Southridge back in early September, powered their way to a 48-17 victory over the talented Skyhawks in the teams' rematch - coming in a Class 6A state playoff second-round game played Friday at Tigard High School.

'This was the most fun I've had,' said Tigard junior running back Zach Floyd, who rushed for 153 yards and a pair of touchdowns, while also having a kickoff return for a TD in the victory. 'Southridge is a great team, but we've definitely been getting better.'

'Oh, this is really big,' said Tigard junior running back Benny Wick, who ran for a pair of TDs. 'The first week, when we played them, it was a close game. And they're a great team, but we were really ready to play tonight.'

Southridge, the No. 1 team out of the Metro League, finished its season with a final overall record of 6-5.

Tigard, the Pacific Conference champion, improved to 11-0 on the season with the victory. The Tigers also advanced to the quarterfinal round of the state playoffs. Tigard will play at Jesuit (a 22-14 second-round winner over Tualatin) Friday in a state playoff quarterfinal match-up set to start at 7 p.m. at Jesuit High School.

'We've got four more quarters,' said Tigard senior lineman Jeremy Moore, who had three quarterback sacks against the Skyhawks.

'That's what were trying to do every week now,' fellow Tigard senior lineman Isaac Schimmels added. 'We're trying to get four more quarters.'

With that in mind, Tigard got off to a flying start in Friday's playoff contest.

In the Tigers' second possession of the game, with Floyd operating at quarterback in a wildcat formation, they took a 7-0 lead when junior running back Kaz Greene scored on a 29-yard run with 5 minutes and 40 seconds left in the first quarter.

The next time Tigard had the ball, Floyd, again working out of the wildcat, scored on an 11-yard run to give the Tigers a 14-0 lead with 0:59 remaining in the first quarter.

'That's something I've been begging the coaches to put it in,' Floyd said of the wildcat offense. 'I love it. I always wanted to play quarterback. This was the first game that we've run it consistently.'

Southridge quickly came back. A 58-yard pass from junior quarterback Reza Aleaziz to junior receiver Kevin McClean set up a 1-yard touchdown run by Aleaziz on a quarterback sneak. The TD cut the Tigard lead to 14-7 with 11:25 left in the second quarter.

But the Tigers, and Floyd, answered back immediately, as Floyd returned the ensuing kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown, upping the lead to 21-7 with 11:11 left before halftime.

The persistent Skyhawks battled back again. A 30-yard pass from Aleaziz to sophomore receiver Jordan Morgan set up a 14-yard scoring pass from Aleaziz to McClean, making the score 21-14 with 8:41 left in the second quarter.

Southridge, following an interception by senior Matt Miller, then got even closer. The Skyhawks trimmed the lead to 21-17 after sophomore Alex Beekman booted a 36-yard field goal with 4:37 left in the first half.

But Tigard boosted its lead to 27-17 after Wick finished a 65-yard drive with a 2-yard touchdown burst coming with 39.5 seconds left in the first half.

The Tigers, while happy with their 10-point halftime lead, took over in a big way in the second half.

Tigard, in its first possession of the third quarter, marched 94 yards in 14 plays, capping things off with a 1-yard touchdown run by Wick, making the score 34-17 with 2:37 left in the period.

The Tigers, on their next possession, went 76 yards in 12 plays, getting a 17-yard touchdown run by Floyd out of the wildcat formation to up the margin to 41-17 with 6:58 left to play in the game.

Tigard, which held a 16:02 to 7:58 advantage in time of possession in the second half, finished the scoring with a 63-yard scoring scamper by Greene coming with 2:49 left to play.

In the second half, the Tigard defense held Southridge to 57 total yards in 18 plays. Meanwhile, the Tigard offense had 226 yards of total offense on 32 plays in the second half.

'That 10-point lead we had at halftime wasn't enough,' Floyd said. 'In the second half, we played great defense and, on offense, we did what we needed to do.'

Tigard had 373 yards on total offense in the win, rushing for 337 yards on 51 carries.

'It's all about the offensive line,' Floyd said of the group that includes center Matt Franz, guards Schimmels and Jarrad Schulte, tackles Ethan Lange and Moore and tight ends Jake Biglow and Conner Olson, among others. 'I think we have the best offensive line in the state. They're great.'

'We're a close group,' Schimmels said. 'We don't have the biggest guys, but we have guys who know how to get off the ball.'

Floyd picked up his game-high 153 rushing yards on 19 carries. Greene added 137 rushing yards on 10 carries and Wick ran for 59 yards on 17 carries.

Tigard senior quarterback Niko Freni completed five of six pass attempts for 36 yards. Senior receiver Sean McGetrick had two receptions for 22 yards.

Moore led the Tigard defense with his three quarterback sacks.

'I was just doing my job,' he said.

Junior Blake Chamberlain added a quarterback sack for the Tigers and Biglow had a pair of tackles for losses.

'On defense, it all starts with out defensive line,' Tigard senior linebacker Jesse Wantland said. 'When they play like that, we're pretty good.'

Southridge had 255 yards on total offense in the contest.

Aleaziz completed 10 of 21 pass attempts for 171 yards. Sophomore Devin Martinez was the Skyhawks' leading rusher with 32 yards on 12 carries.