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Tigard outlasts Lakeridge 50-35, sets up showdown with No. 1 West Linn

The Tigers stay unbeaten in a slugfest with the Pacers

VERN UYETAKE - Tigard's Ryan Minniti makes a cut upfield during Friday's 50-35 victory over Lakeridge.With a showdown looming against No. 1 West Linn next week, the No. 3 Tigard Tigers got somewhat of an unlikely test from an improving Lakeridge team on Friday.

While the Tigers were in control for the vast majority of the game, the Pacers hung around, trading punches on offense and cutting the lead to seven points in the fourth quarter before Tigard put the game away 50-35.

“We made big plays when we needed them. We had a few miscues that with some coverages that made it closer than it needed to be,” Tigard receiver Braden Lenzy said.

The Tigers’ offense wasn’t stopped in the first half, scoring on all five of its possessions. The Pacers went three-and-out to open the game and Tigard needed just two plays to find the end zone with Jashua Allen scoring from three yards out.

Lakeridge would respond quickly, covering on fourth-and-15 when quarterback Mike Irwin connected with Ian Gaekward for a 35-yard score. A two-point conversion catch by Gaekwad gave the Pacers an 8-7 lead.

Again, Tigard struck quickly, needed just two plays. This time quarterback Ryan Wothley hit Zane Klosterman for a 41-yard score and the Tigers had a lead they wouldn’t surrender.

Lakeridge came up short on fourth down on its next drive and Tigard marched down the field on the ground, riding Spencer Smith, who eventually scored on a three-yard run to make it 21-8.

The Pacers responded with a nine-play drive, getting a 14-yard touchdown catch by freshman Matt Petersen.

Tigard took advantage of a short field on its next drive, pounding the ball at Lakeridge again before Wothley hit tight end Kyle Bay for a six-yard touchdown.

The Tigers’ defense came up with another big fourth down stop and then seemed comfortable in running out the clock but Tigard was aided by Pacer penalties and moved into scoring range, allowing Ryan Minniti to score on a one-yard plunge with just 11 seconds left in the half to make 35-15.

Tigard opened the second half with the ball, looking to put the game out of reach quickly but a quarterback sack caused a fumble and the Pacers converted on an eight-yard touchdown keeper by Irwin.

Lakeridge then forced Tigard’s first punt of the game and drove inside the Tigers’ 10-yard line, looking to make it a one-score game, but Tigard came up with a crucial stop.

Six plays later, Wothley connected with Braden Lenzy on single coverage. Lenzy broke a tackle and went 71 yards, putting Tigard up 42-22 with 8:32 remaining.

“It was a play our quarterback and I thought we should run and our coaches trust us and I was able to make a big play,” Lenzy said.

But Lakeridge wasn’t finished. After a stoppage when the lights on the field went out, Irwin connected with Gaekwad for a 27-yard score.

Lakeridge was also aided by a handful of big penalties by the Tigers, particularly in the second half, keeping Pacer drives alive.

The Pacers would recover an onside kick and, after a 24-yard scramble by Irwin, Gaekwad pulled in his third touchdown of the game to make it 42-35.

“We felt the energy. Everyone was live on the sideline and we thought we were going to win it,” Gaekwad said.

Lakeridge couldn’t come up with the onside kick this time and Tigard drove down the short field, getting a nine-yard touchdown from Minniti to all but seal the game.

Lakeridge drove into scoring range with less than two minutes to play but couldn’t come up with another touchdown as the Tigers held on.

Tigard (5-0) will play West Linn (5-0) next week while Lakeridge (2-3) will take on Canby (0-5).