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Pacers stun Putnam

by: VERN UYETAKE, 
Marcel Thibodeaux had 43 yards on five carries during Lakeridge’s 14-10 win over Putnam on Friday. The come-from-behind win marked Lakeridge’s first of the year.

After last Friday's 14-10 win over Putnam, Lakeridge coach Ian Lamont said that the Putnam coaches looked stunned as they went through post-game handshakes.

It's hard to imagine the Kingsmen being shocked at falling to the Pacers in football. After all, Putnam has only beaten Lakeridge once in the history of the series.

But that has been how the Pacers have been viewed around the state this year. In fact, Putnam even scheduled Lakeridge for its homecoming, anticipating a potential victory.

The Pacers doubled their scoring output for the season against Putnam, limited their mistakes and forced a key turnovers to pick up their first victory of the year.

It's odd to say that a 54-7 loss could give a team momentum heading into its next game but, according to Lamont, that's exactly what happened.

'Playing that home game and getting that touchdown was huge for us. We were feeling good about ourselves after that one,' Lamont said.

Lakeridge got the ball to start the game against Putnam and quickly marched down the field. Just four-and-a-half minutes into the game, Chase Wippert got into the end zone on an 11-yard scamper to give the Pacers just their second lead of the season and their first since their Zero Week game against Sunset.

But the Kingsmen answered just as quickly. Putnam ran the ball well for most of the night and didn't deviate from that strategy much.

And, after a five-minute drive, Alex Bruce got into the end zone from one yard out to tie the game.

On their next drive, the Kingsmen got back into the red zone before the Pacers came up with a stop. As a result, Putnam attempted a 25-yard field goal and Patrick Hewett knocked it through to put the Kingsmen up 10-7.

The score stayed that way until the half and the Pacers knew they needed to swing momentum back in their favor.

'We told the guys at half that we needed to stop them on their first drive. That was going to be important,' Lamont said.

But the Kingsmen moved the ball well and seemed primed to take a commanding lead early in the half. Putnam ended up with a first-and-goal opportunity at the three-yard line.

Lakeridge then put in freshman J.J. Todd to help shore up the defense and he ended up making a pair of stops during a huge goal line stand.

On fourth down, Putnam went for it and was stuffed again. But Lakeridge still had to deal with being pinned back at their own goal line.

On the next play, Wippert took a hand-off and went 45 yards to get Lakeridge out of harm's way.

But the Pacers weren't done. Lakeridge continued to move the ball and, with 14 seconds to play in the third quarter, Ben Swinford hit Daniel Chesney near the sideline.

The Putnam cornerback dove to make an interception but missed the ball by inches. Chesney made the catch and sprinted toward the end zone.

'It was just a great pass by Ben and I don't think Daniel's ever run that fast in his life,' Lamont said.

With one quarter to play Lakeridge had regained the lead.

On the ensuing kick-off, the Kingsmen were nearing midfield when Miles Lewis stripped the return man and the Pacers recovered.

Putnam had three fumbles in the game and Lakeridge recovered each of them.

Then, with just over three minutes left in the game, Putnam moved into Lakeridge territory.

This time the Pacers forced fourth and long and the Kingsmen went with a running play that was stopped well short of the first down.

'We didn't have turnovers deep in our territory and the defense played a great game. We have the athletes but in previous games we've taken a quarter off or a series off. That didn't happen this time. We played all four quarters physically,' Lamont said.

On Lakeridge's final drive, the Pacers picked up a first down on the ground and then, on third-and-10, Wippert picked up nine yards to put his team near midfield.

Lakeridge faced fourth-and-one with under a minute to play and opted to keep fate in its own hands. The Pacers ran a quarterback keeper and Swinford picked up the first down to seal the game.

It was an emotional victory during a season in which 0-9 was a real possibility but the Pacers stayed confident.

'We told the team 'you guys have won before, let's not lose sight of this,'' Lamont said. Lakeridge will host West Linn on Friday at the District Stadium.

The Pacers have still not been mathematically eliminated from playoff contention but would needs wins over the Lions and Milwaukie to stay alive.