Vikings get stymied by Tualatin's power running game in a 14-0 conference setback

On Friday night, the Forest Grove football team hung with a league power about as well as any Vikings team in recent memory.

After giving up two first-half touchdowns to a clock-chewing Tualatin squad, the Vikings dropped their first game of the season with a 14-0 loss at home. The contest was the Pacific Conference opener for both teams.

By and large, that score is a considerable step up for Forest Grove (2-1). The Vikings fell 15-9 to Tualatin during the 2010 regular season and by another 14-0 score back in 2007. Otherwise, in the squads’ seven other contests dating back to the 2004 season, the Timberwolves have prevailed by an average of almost 37 points per game.

While Friday’s outcome was certainly respectable, Vikings coach Dwight Jensen sees that his team is capable of more.

“I don’t think we handled it in the right way,” Jensen said. “I think we were playing too tentative, playing not to lose the game instead of playing to win it aggressively. I think guys were too worried about making mistakes.”

Tualatin (2-1) scored its first touchdown midway through the first quarter on a 3-yard pass from Brandon Shroyer to Nick Hines, and the Timberwolves got their second late in the half when Shroyer found Ryan Wisner for a 25-yard strike.

But that was it as far as the scoring went. Tualatin reached the red zone on two other drives but Zac Collins and Cam Kemper came up big with interceptions to squelch those threats.

“We bent a lot, but we got two stops,” Jensen said. “And offense, if we just execute a little better, we win that football game.”

Despite possessing the ball for just 37 snaps and 15 of the game’s 48 minutes, the Vikings did some threatening of their own on offense. On their first possession of the second half, they drove to Tualatin’s 30-yard line before Alec Trecker intercepted Taylor Jensen’s pass.

And on the Viking’s next drive, an Ethan Thursam touchdown reception was called back due to a penalty, and then a potential scoring pass was dropped in the end zone.

“They’re a good team,” said Thursam, who had five receptions for 44 yards. “We played well on defense, but we just didn’t have the ball enough. With their running offense, they were able to run the clock out. That happens.”

Jensen went 14-of-25 for 134 yards. Collins was his favorite target and caught five passes for 59 yards, while Gio Tayetto rushed nine times for 20 yards.

This Friday, the Vikings travel to McMinnville to take on an undefeated Grizzlies squad. Game time is 7 p.m.

“The big thing this week is let’s go into this McMinnville game — have fun, have confidence like you’ve had — but let’s go enjoy making the plays and not worry about making mistakes,” Dwight Jensen said. “Do your thing, go out there and play, and let’s see what happens.”

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