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Lakeridge opens door for Oregon Citys win

It seemed the Lakeridge football team did everything possible to help Oregon City win its first Three Rivers League game in more than a year.

Lakeridge coach Rob Kool was quick to give Oregon City credit for last Friday's 13-6 victory. But the Pacers hardly looked like the playoff-caliber team that many people expected them to be at the beginning of the season.

'We just didn't play a good football game and Oregon City outplayed us,' Kool said. 'I'm going to give them all of the kudos. We just didn't get it done.'

The Pacers (0-1 TRL, 1-2 overall) seemed to be their own worst enemy in the game. They turned the ball over four times, including their first three possessions of the second half.

'Those are killers,' Kool said of the miscues. '(On the first one) we had a wide-open hole, too. It would have been a nice way to start the half.'

Plus, on their first drive of the contest, the Pacers moved the ball to the Oregon City 1-yard line, but they couldn't get into the end zone and wound up turning the ball over on downs.

The Pacers also had a number of dropped passes in the first half as backup quarterback Spencer Trefzger completed just 3 of 10 attempts for 14 yards during the first two periods.

Nor did the Pioneers (1-0 TRL, 2-2 overall) look like an offensive juggernaut. They had to overcome a weak first half in which they amassed just 63 yard in total offense. But the second half was a different story as Oregon City's running game came to life and wound up taking control of the game.

After a scoreless first half, Oregon City got the game's first touchdown when Justin Gates broke a run off right tackle and sprinted 63 yards for a touchdown. A failed extra-point attempt left the Pioneers with a 6-0 lead midway through the third quarter.

Lakeridge answered quickly, though. On the Pacers' next play, running back Tyrell Fortune bolted through the middle of the line for a 39-yard gain. On the next play, Lakeridge's regular quarterback, Robbie Kool, hit Erik Hillier for a 34-yard touchdown pass. But the Pacers also missed their extra-point attempt, leaving the score tied at 6-6.

Oregon City then put together a 77-yard drive that chewed up almost six minutes on the clock. Gates started the drive with a 17-yard run and running mate Mitch Wagner followed on the next play with a 13-yard scamper. Ten plays later, Wagner scored on a one-yard plunge into the end zone. This time, Tyler Ferguson connected on his extra-point try and Oregon City had the lead for good at 13-6.

Despite being hampered by a hamstring injury that could have kept him sidelined for the entire game, Kool was able to complete 6 of 13 passes for 129 yards.

But Kool appeared to be slowed at times by the injury. He wound up being sacked four times. The final outcome was sealed when Kool threw an ill-advised shovel pass that was intercepted by Oregon City's Derek Haak with approximately one minute left in the game.

The Pacers had a 297 to 229 ad-vantage in total yards, but it hardly mattered as the Pioneers picked up the crucial yards on the ground when they needed them. Gates finished the game with 111 yards on 12 carries. Wagner added 94 yards on 25 rushes.

Fortune was Lakeridge's leading ball carrier with 77 yards on 13 attempts.

Even though it was the first game of the league season, the loss put Lakeridge in a bit of a bind in the playoff chase. In order to finish ahead of Oregon City, the Pacers might now have to beat either West Linn, Clackamas or Lake Oswego.

'Now every game is important,' coach Kool said. 'To start off 0-1 in league, it puts us behind the 8-ball … We're definitely not out of it. We just need to win football games.'