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Pacers playoff chances fading

by: Matt Sherman, 
Lakeridge’s Marcel Thibodeaux, left, looks to outrun a defender during last Friday’s TRL game against Clackamas. It was a must-win game for the Pacers, but the visiting Cavs wound up claiming a 24-17 victory.

The things that have plagued Lakeridge all season long came back to bite them again last Thursday in the team's 24-17 loss to Clackamas on homecoming.

Except, this time, the defeat all but eliminated the Pacers from playoff contention. Lakeridge racked up over 100 yards of penalties, including one that negated a go-ahead touchdown, and had three passes intercepted but still had plenty of chances to either win the game or send it into overtime.

The Pacers matched Clackamas in total offense and had more time of possession, thanks mainly to an impressive ground attack, but the mistakes were too much to overcome and Lakeridge suffered its third straight league loss by a margin of seven points or less.

The Pacers started quickly, moving the ball down the field on its opening possession before a missed field goal ended the drive.

On defense, Lakeridge didn't give up a first down until Clackamas' third possession and, with three and a half minutes to play in the opening quarter, Robbie Kool scored on a 16-yard scramble to put his team up 7-0.

After stopping the Cavaliers, Lakeridge took over again but a penalty on the punt return backed the Pacers up. Lakeridge failed to move the ball and, on the ensuing punt, the ball was snapped out of the back of the end zone for a safety, giving the Cavaliers their first points of the game.

Turnovers ended each of Clackamas and Lakeridge's next drives but the Cavaliers capitalized on their interception as Ben Adler hauled in a 27-yard pass from Ryan Cook to give Clackamas the lead.

Kool's second interception of the day ended his team's next drive and Clackamas responded with another drive. Lakeridge forced a fourth-and-one from the three-yard line and the Cavaliers went for it. Cook found Craig Seiler open in the end zone as Clackamas took a 16-7 lead.

But Lakeridge rebounded, marching down the field and kicking a 29-yard field goal with under a minute to play in the half to make it a one-possession game.

Another interception thrown by the Pacers and a missed field goal by Clackamas kept the teams from scoring in the third quarter.

The Cavaliers threatened to score early in the fourth period, going for it on another fourth down but a tackle by Cam Gerson short of the marker gave the Pacers the ball in good field position.

A big catch by Billy Mitchell put Lakeridge in scoring range and, on fourth-and-six, Kool hit Erik Hillier in the end zone for an apparent touchdown that, with the extra point, would have given the Pacers the lead back.

However, the play was negated by an illegal man downfield penalty. Lakeridge tacked on an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and ultimately gave the ball back to Clackamas.

The Cavaliers moved the ball into the Pacers territory and Lakeridge nearly came up with a crucial turnover when Cook scrambled out of bounds and threw up a pass that was picked off.

But Cook was ruled out of bounds before the ball was thrown. Two plays later, Clackamas scored and converted the two-point attempt to take a 14-point lead.

However, Lakeridge wasn't finished yet. Just two minutes after giving up a touchdown, Kool hit Mitchell for a 47-yard touchdown, making it a seven-point game.

Clackamas took over and was stopped short of a first down with under two minutes to play. The Cavaliers elected to punt, which would give the Pacers one more chance to at least tie the game.

However, on the punt, Lakeridge was flagged for running into the kicker which gave the ball back to Clackamas and effectively ended the game.

For the game, Lakeridge's Tyrell Fortune ran for 129 yards and Kool ran for 96 and threw for 146 on 6-of-17 passing.

The Pacers dropped to 0-3 in league and will need wins in its next few games, including one over top-ranked Lake Oswego to stay eligible for the postseason.