Pacers overcome misfortune
For a while, Lakeridge football fans had to be thinking, 'Oh no, here we go again.'
Five lost fumbles and season-ending injuries to two key players can bring such thoughts to the surface. This time, though, the hard-luck Pacers had just enough firepower left to squeeze out a 22-20 victory over Milwaukie last Friday.
It wasn't easy, though, and the outcome remained in doubt until Lakeridge recovered an onside kickoff in the game's final seconds.
'We just wanted to give that game away for some reason … I don't even know what to say,' Lakeridge coach Rob Kool said after the game.
Kool is usually not at a loss for words, but the coach seemed subdued after seeing his son, Robbie, the starting quarterback, suffer a season-ending broken leg on the first play of the second quarter.
'It wasn't a big hit,' coach Kool said of the play that knocked his son out of the game. 'It was just a big pile-up and somebody landed on his leg wrong … What are you going to do?'
Other people were probably wondering the same thing, because the Pacers have sputtered in the past when Robbie Kool was not in the lineup. But backup quarterback Spencer Trefzger turned in an impressive performance in relief of the younger Kool. In fact, Trefzger led Lakeridge to a pair of touchdowns that wound up spelling the difference in the game.
'I thought he did a great job,' coach Kool said of Trefzger, who completed 7 of 10 passes for 105 yards and a touchdown.
Trefzger was at the helm when the Pacers marched 80 yards for a touchdown late in the second quarter. Running back Tyrell Fortune had 60 of those yards, including the last 18 on a run around left end. Nick Berardi's extra point gave Lakeridge the lead for good at 14-7.
The Pacers padded their lead to 22-7 when Trefzger hit Erik Hillier on an 11-yard slant pattern early in the third quarter. Lakeridge then faked the extra-point kick and had Hillier, who also serves as the holder, run the ball in for two points.
That two-point conversion would loom large by the end of the game.
The Pacers were their own worst enemies in the second half as they fumbled the ball away five times, including twice by Fortune, who finished with a team-high 117 yards rushing. Turnovers have plagued Lakeridge all season, but the Pacers really seemed to be in the giving mood on Friday.
'We just continually make mistakes … but we're really trying to correct those things,' coach Kool said.
The first of Fortune's lost fumbles led to a Milwaukie touchdown that was scored by quarterback Garrett Schnell on a seven-yard run. That trimmed Lakeridge's lead to 22-14 late in the third period.
Milwaukie received another gift late in the fourth quarter when the Pacers' Marcel Thibodeaux fumbled the ball away at his team's 12-yard line. Three plays later, slot back Sean Scott scored on a four-yard run to cut the Mustangs' deficit to two points with 31 seconds remaining.
Milwaukie tried to tie the game with a two-point conversion, but a run by fullback Tim Garcia was stopped well short of the goal line. Milwaukie then tried an onside kick, but that was recovered by Trefzger and the Pacers (2-3 TRL, 2-6 overall) had their second win in as many weeks.
For Robbie Kool, it was his second serious injury in a year's time. In last year's league finale, he suffered a broke collar bone and missed his team's playoff game the following week. This time, Kool was sidelined with a broken fibula, the smaller, non-weight baring bone in the lower leg.
The Pacers also loss the services of running back Travis Dunn, who suffered a severe bruise to the lower leg. It was initially thought that Dunn had broken a bone as well, but the injury will still keep him out of Friday's game with Lake Oswego.
They were the latest in a long line of injuries for the Pacers, who have played most of the season short-handed. There's never a good time for injuries to occur, but the timing for the latest injuries is especially bad for the Pacers.
'I guess it's back to the drawing board,' coach Kool said in a search for answers. 'But we know our kids will come out fighting on Friday. We know they'll never give up.'