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Civil War game goes LOs way

by: Vern Uyetake, Lake Oswego’s Jay Matthews tries to fight off a tackle during last Friday’s Civil War game against Lakeridge. The top-ranked Lakers won the game 38-9, thanks partly to 226 yards passing by Jack Lomax. Lakeridge was led by running back Tyrell Fortune, right, who rushed for 104 yards and a touchdown.

Lakeridge managed to keep former teammate Zach Young in check for most of last Friday's Civil War showdown, but the Pacers didn't have an answer for Lake Oswego quarterback Jack Lomax.

Lomax had possibly his best game of the season, completing 15 of 19 passes for 226 yards and three touchdowns to lead the top-ranked Lakers to an easy 38-9 victory over their cross-town rivals.

'We got on a roll and I got some good rhythm passes, and everything clicked,' said Lomax, who completed his first nine passes of the game despite feeling ill earlier in the day.

'I had a headache, so I took a lot of Advil and did nothing but sleep today (on an off-day for school),' Lomax added. 'I came out and was ready to play, so I guess I should sleep all day, every Friday.'

'Jack has really come of age,' Lake Oswego coach Steve Coury said after the game. 'And he's getting better. He's getting better every week.'

Of course, much of the pre-game hype centered around Young, who played for Lakeridge through his junior season. He then transferred to Lake Oswego and quickly established himself as one of the leading ball carriers in the state.

With Young's penchant for turning nothing into something big, Lakeridge had to focus most of its defensive attention on the speedy running back. And the strategy worked most of the time.

The first time Young touched the ball, he was nailed for a four-yard loss when Lakeridge defensive end Tyrell Fortune knifed through the line. Three of Young's first five carries were for losses. Through his first 11 rushing attempts, Young had just 33 yards.

While Young struggled to find running room, Lomax was finding open receivers all over the field. During Lake Oswego's opening drive, Lomax went 5-of-5, including a two-yard scoring toss to Will Storey.

The Pacers then fumbled away the ensuing kickoff inside their own 10. But Lakeridge was able to keep Young out of the end zone on three consecutive runs, and the Lakers had to settle for Pat Barry's 20-yard field goal and a 10-0 lead.

After forcing a Lakeridge punt, the Lakers struck quickly on their next possession, which started with a 60-yard pass from Lomax to Michael Wesner. Four players later, the Lakers were in the end zone again, this time on a three-yard run by Young.

Lakeridge responded by fumbling the ball away again on the next kickoff. Lake Oswego seemed poised to put the game out of reach, but Fortune had other ideas when he stole the ball out of hands of Lake Oswego receiver Jared Van Hoon and raced 69 yards to the Lakers' 13.

'When he has a head of steam, he's hard to bring down,' Coury said of Fortune.

So it was appropriate that Fortune scored four plays later on a five-yard run.

'We were hoping to come out and pound it on them a little bit,' Lakeridge coach Rob Kool said of his team's decision to focus on the run. 'We were hoping to make it a physical game and limit the number of possession they had.'

But, Fortune's touchdown, which cut Lake Oswego's lead to 17-7 early in the second quarter, would be the only touchdown Lakeridge would score against the Lakers.

Lake Oswego got that touchdown back on its next possession, which lasted seven plays and was capped by Young's best run of the night. It was a simple off-tackle play, but Young was barely touched en route to his 32-yard score, which made it 24-7.

Young ran for another 30 yards the next time he carried the ball, which turned an uneventful night into another big game. More importantly, that set up another score for the Lakers, which came on a 15-yard pass from Lomax to Nick Rulli just before the half.

With the pass to Rulli, it gave Lomax completions to seven different receivers, which is more weapons than most defensive teams can deal with.

'We've got a lot of kids that can catch the ball. So, (opponents) have to defend everything, which is great,' Coury said.

Lake Oswego pushed its lead to 38-7 early in the third quarter when Lomax hit Wesner on a 32-yard scoring toss.

The Pacers got the game's final score when a long snap by the Lakers sailed over Van Hoon's head and out of the end zone for a safety.

Young finished the game with 116 yards rushing, an unusually low total for him.

'I don't know how many carries he had (it was 16), but we weren't going to over-do it,' Coury said of the decision to take the focus away from Young.

'We were trying to keep it to a minimum and keep him healthy. That was the biggest goal,' Coury added.

Young now has 1,673 rushing yards for the season. He also has 28 touchdowns after scoring twice against the Pacers, which was one short of game average.

'I was almost expecting Zach to be angry that he didn't get as many touchdowns,' Lomax said. 'But he was into (the game) and wanted to do whatever it took to win.'

With Lake Oswego's high-scoring capabilities, it was almost easy to overlook the fact that Lakeridge was just a shell of its former self after being decimated by injuries during the season.

'I really admire what (Lakeridge) did,' Coury said after the game. 'They were short-handed and they had a good plan to keep the clock running … and it took us a while to adjust to what they were doing (on offense).'

'We started the year with high expectations and I thought we had a pretty good football team,' coach Kool said. 'But we knew depth would be a problem, then all of a sudden, things just started avalanching (with injuries) and we just got wiped out … But our kids never lost focus and they fought to the bitter end.'

Fortune, who led Lakeridge with 104 yards on 25 carries, was the biggest thorn in the side for the Lakers. 'He's a good-looking kid. He had a good game,' Coury said of Fortune.

Next up for Lake Oswego (9-0) will be next Friday's first-round playoff game against Gresham. A victory there would set up a possible second-round match-up against defending state champion Jesuit.

The Pacers, who were playing without quarterback Robbie Kool (out with a broken leg), finished the season 2-7 and missed the playoffs for one of the few times in school history.