The Lakers rally from a 13-0 deficit in the first half and score 34 consecutive points to avenge last year's playoff loss to Sheldon.
by: VERN UYETAKE, Lake Oswego head coach Steve Coury is congratulated after the Lakers knocked off Sheldon 34-13 in the quarterfinals last Friday.

There were some very nervous home fans at Lake Oswego High School last Friday during the first half of the Lakers' quarterfinal game against Sheldon.

But those nerves didn't extend to the Lake Oswego sideline.

After falling behind 13-0 to a strong Irish team that won the state title last year, Lake Oswego didn't panic. Instead they simply stuck to the game plan.

And that plan was good for five unanswered touchdowns, a dominant second-half performance and a 34-13 win that propelled the Lakers into the state semifinals this Friday.

Lake Oswego simply wore Sheldon down, seizing momentum with a game-tying score before the half and never looking back.

The win sets up a highly-anticipated rematch between Lake Oswego and Jesuit this Friday at PGE Park. The Lakers knocked off the Crusaders in dramatic fashion 36-33 in the preseason in what was arguably the best game of the year to date. And, despite the battle being a semifinal match up, many people consider Lake Oswego and Jesuit to be the two best teams in the state.

Against Sheldon, the Lakers took their time getting their offense into gear. They punted on their opening possession and then Sheldon, following a good punt return, quickly moved down the field.

Two screen passes to Cameron Abeene moved the Irish into scoring range and quarterback Jordan Johnson ran the ball in on a keeper to put his team up 7-0 just five minutes into the game.

The teams then traded punts before Lake Oswego started a seemingly good drive.

Tyson Coleman had a pair of good runs and Nick Rulli hauled in a pass to the one-yard line that was called back by a penalty. Sheldon then sacked Jack Lomax for the second time and forced a punt.

Early in the second quarter, Lake Oswego still couldn't come up with a sustained drive despite getting the ball in great field position on nearly every possession.

After a failed fourth-down conversion by the Lakers, Sheldon took over again. Johnson managed to allude a trio of would-be tacklers and made a terrific pass to an open Gavin Hyde for a 56-yard score.

A missed extra point made it 13-0 with 8:32 to play in the first half.

'They're a very good team and we knew it was going to be a tough game. We just had to hang in there and straighten some things out,' coach Steve Coury said.

But the Lakers rebounded quickly. On their next drive, three passes from Lomax to Storey moved Lake Oswego into scoring range and, on third down, Lomax threw to the end zone for Brad Halberg.

Halberg leapt over his defender to make a terrific catch for Lake Oswego's first score.

Sheldon came back with a nice drive of its own. Another good return allowed Sheldon to start near midfield. The Irish special teams unit did a nice job all night setting their offense up with good field position.

Lake Oswego was solid at containing the dangerous Johnson for much of the night. Although he did create some big plays, more often than not, the Lakers bottled him up before he could create too much damage.

'We had a good plan on defense and brought guys in from the outside to create some problems,' Coury said.

On third down in Laker territory, Johnson scrambled just shy of the marker, making it fourth and one at the 28-yard line.

That brought up an enormous play. Sheldon went for it and opted to air the ball out. The Irish threw deep downfield toward the end zone and the pass fell incomplete, giving the ball back to Lake Oswego with just over three minutes to play in the half.

Lomax, who had one of his best nights of the year running the ball, used two nice scrambles to keep the drive alive and then hit Storey again on a nice pass that put the Lakers near the end zone.

With under a minute to play, Coleman ran the ball in from one-yard out. The extra point was blocked which left the score 13-13 at the half.

'That was huge. Getting that big play to Will and scoring before the half was big for us,' Coury said.

Sheldon received the ball to start the second half and Jordan ran the ball three straight times for a first down. But the Irish were stopped near midfield and forced to punt.

The Lakers received the ball at their 25-yard line and went back to work.

Lomax had another keeper for a first down and Rulli made a catch for a first down. Lomax then hit his favorite receiver of the night, Storey, along the left sideline for a 33-yard touchdown to give Lake Oswego its first lead of the game.

'We just stuck to the game plan. Coach told us we needed to stick together and that's what we did,' receiver Micah Hatfield said.

The score seemed to deflate the Irish a bit. Sheldon got good field position following another strong kickoff return. But, on third-and-1, a run was stuffed by the Lakers and, on the ensuing fourth down conversion attempt, Blake Heim deflected a pass to give the Lakers the ball back.

On Lake Oswego's next possession, Coleman went down with a sprained ankle and wouldn't return to the game.

But Dylan Stowell and Whit Bissett did a nice job filling in for him. Stowell ran the ball three straight times for a first down and, on third and two, Lomax used his legs once again to pick up a first down.

Two plays later, Bissett punched the ball in from four yards out to give Lake Oswego a cushion.

Sheldon couldn't get much going early in the fourth quarter as it needed a break or two to stay in the game. A big tackle by Laker linebacker Jackson Holstein set up another fourth down that the Irish couldn't convert on.

Lake Oswego's offensive line then took over, knocking the Irish back and allowing Stowell to run time off the clock while picking up chunks of yardage.

With just over two minutes to play in the game, Bissett scored again on another four-yard run to all but seal the game.

'I think we proved we can hang in there and are mentally tough. We live to play another day,' Coury said.

On Sheldon's last possession, Ryan Bradley came up with an interception which allowed the Laker offense to take a knee and run out the clock.

The Lakers will take on Jesuit in the second game of a double header at PGE Park on Friday. The game is scheduled to start at 8 p.m.

'We just need to prepare for the game of our lives now,' Hatfield said.

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