By MATTHEW SHERMAN
Lake Oswego put its first playoff opponent away quickly on Friday with a 41-7 victory over Grant.
It was a nightmarish game for the Generals as they fell behind 21-0 in the first eight minutes of play, turned the ball over six times and their PIL Player of the Year, quarterback Kenneth Acker, was carted off on a stretcher just minutes into the second quarter.
And the Lakers didn't actually play their best game either. They turned the ball over three times themselves and went through a brief lull after Acker's injury and still managed to put up a five-touchdown victory.
The tone of the game was set early. Lake Oswego scored touchdowns on its first three possession. Grant turned the ball over on its first three. And, just like that, any thoughts of a shocking upset were quelled.
It took the Lakers just six plays and 70 seconds to get on the board. A 10-yard scramble by quarterback Jack Lomax, which was followed by a 15-yard penalty for a late hit, preceded back-to-back first down completions from Lomax to Micah Hatfield and Nick Rulli.
Then Tyson Coleman ran behind some terrific blocking for a 17-yard touchdown.
On Grant's first possession, the Generals went to the air and Hatfield was positioned perfectly to come up with an interception.
Lomax completed first down passes to Will Storey, Rulli and Coleman before connecting with Hatfield in the corner of the end zone from 16 yards out.
Having only run one offensive play, the Generals got off four on their next possession and picked up a first down on a pass interference penalty.
But Hatfield, who proved to be everywhere on the field early in the game, recovered a fumbled pitch to give possession back to the Lakers.
'During the entire week of practice, coach (Steve) Coury had us playing against their type of offense and it got us ready,' Laker lineman Josh Kennedy said.
Lomax moved Lake Oswego into scoring range quickly with passes to Storey and Rulli and then threw to Storey near the goal line.
The ball was deflected and popped up into the air dangerously. Amidst a handful of Grant defenders, the ball went directly to Brad Halberg who made the catch and dove into the end zone.
It was that kind of quarter for the Lakers.
But then the Generals finally found their footing.
Grant picked up three first downs to move into Lake Oswego territory. But, on the next play, the Generals tried some trickery with a halfback pass.
The throw was intended for Acker but it came up short and was picked off by Storey. Acker made the tackle but crumpled to the ground with a knee injury.
After a long delay he was carried off the field on a stretcher. He would return to the sidelines before the start of the third quarter on crutches and with a large knee brace.
Following the interception, Lomax made his first mistake of the evening and threw a pick to Acker's brother Karl.
'When their kid got hurt, he's such a great player and that deflated them and I think we started to play down a little but I was proud of how the kids bounced back,' Coury said.
Karl Acker took over at quarterback for the Generals and marched the team down to the goal line.
But, another Grant fumble was recovered in the end zone by Michael Stroble, which led to a touchback.
Then, on Lake Oswego's next play, the Generals brought heavy pressure and sacked Lomax which caused a fumble.
With the ball on the Lakers' 16-yard line, Grant took just three plays to score on a nine-yard pass from Karl Acker to Jerrell Young.
The Lakers followed by turning the ball over for the third straight time when Young made a nice play on a pass intended for Rulli and came up with an interception.
But Grant couldn't capitalize on its chance to get back in the game and was forced to punt.
Late in the half, the Lakers mounted another drive. Hatfield made a terrific juggling catch for a 22-yard gain and Coleman punched in his second touchdown on a four-yard run with just over a minute to play in the second quarter.
'At the half, coach told us that we were playing great but that we were making mental mistakes and keeping ourselves down,' Kennedy said.
Grant started the second half with the ball and moved past midfield before a huge tackle by Josh Kennedy and a sack on fourth down by Jeff Kremer ended the drive.
The Lakers all but put the game away on an eight-play drive that chewed up the clock and ended with a six-yard touchdown by Coleman.
Brian Zinsmeister came up with a pair of fourth-quarter interceptions to keep the Generals off the board, returning his second to the one-yard line.
Coleman was then able to score his fourth touchdown of the night for the final points of the game.
'You certainly can't complain about a 41-7 win. We're happy to be moving on. The kids have great focus and a lot of confidence,' Coury said.
With the win and a Sheldon victory over Westview, the Lakers earned another home game on Friday.
Lake Oswego and Sheldon have built up a nice non-league rivalry over the past few years. The Lakers lost the title game to the Irish in 2002 but knocked Sheldon out of the playoffs in 2003 and 2004.
Then, in last year's quarterfinals, Sheldon beat Lake Oswego 28-27 in overtime en route to winning its second state football title.
The game will be at home at 7 p.m. this Friday.