6A football — NHS plays tough in the first half, but Tigard scores 28 in the third quarter for 63-21 win

TIGARD — In order to beat an unbeaten and unchallenged Tigard team Friday, Newberg knew that it would not only have to step up its play, but keep its mistakes to a minimum.

The Tigers put up a good fight for much of the first half, but were unable to sustain the effort, as host Tigard pulled away late in the second quarter and went into overdrive in the third to blow past the visitors 63-21 Friday night. by: GARY ALLEN - Tossed around -- Junior quarterback Grayson Oviatt tosses the ball to running back Matthew McCarthy during Newberg's 63-21 loss to unbeaten Tigard Friday night. The Tigers can clinch at least a fourth-place finish and an automatic berth to the playoffs with a win in the season finale Friday versus Hillsboro at Hare Field.

Newberg attempted to control possession and effectively drained the clock for much of the first half, but with an offense equally adept at moving the ball on the ground and through the air, Tigard jumped out to a 21-0 lead with 3:43 to go before halftime.

The Tigers quickly answered to get on the scoreboard, as Grayson Oviatt found Andy Tautfest on a post pattern for a 65-yard touchdown with just 1:32 left in the second.

Newberg would have felt good trailing 14 at the half, but unfortunately there was more than enough time left for Tigard to respond. Senior quarterback Jett Even found receiver Daren Rodrigues for a 59-yard gain on the first play of the ensuing drive, setting up a 9-yard Manu Rasmussen touchdown run that made it 28-7 at the break.

“We knew those things were coming and we had our opportunities, I think, to keep it close and we just didn’t execute,” head coach T.J. Tomlin said. “Our kids are running past their safeties and we just didn’t execute up front, we didn’t protect well enough and that was the difference.”

Things quickly spiraled out of control for Newberg in the third quarter as Tigard unleashed a blitzkrieg to break the game wide open.

The home team opened the second half with a 10-play scoring drive in which it mostly ran the ball, but converted for a touchdown on a diving one-handed catch by Nick Duron that fired up the partisan crowd and made it 35-7 just 4:34 into the third quarter.

Senior James Conrad got loose on a counter and scampered for an 80-yard touchdown on Newberg’s next play, but Tigard immediately took the wind out of Newberg’s sails, scoring 21 points over the next 2:10 to push its lead to 56-14.

That stretch featured touchdown runs of 43 and 39 yards by Rasmussen, who danced and darted through the Newberg defense almost with ease most of the night. His second score came following a Newberg fumble and then Tigard added a defensive touchdown, as linebacker Joe Lobbato stripped the ball from Oviatt and dashed 17 yard for the score.

“I think we played a good first quarter and a half, then it just kind of got out of hand,” Tomlin said. “That momentum swung and we just couldn’t get things going when we came back out. We had a horrible third quarter. We said this would happen if we didn’t execute because they’re a good football team and good football teams will do that to you.”

The loss did not greatly damage Newberg’s playoff hopes, as the Tigers (4-4, 3-3 Pacific Conference) can lock up fourth place and earn an automatic playoff bid with a win in the season finale Friday at last-place Hillsboro. If Tualatin also beats Glencoe, Newberg would finish in a tie for third with the Timberwolves, although playoff seeding will be determined solely according the OSAA power rankings, which currently have the Tigers at No. 17, Glencoe at No. 16, Tualatin at No. 15 and Tigard at No. 2.

“I told the kids we have to flush this game; it was a good team, let’s move on and not let our season go to waste because we had a tough loss,” Tomlin said. “It was just one loss of a couple we’ve had and I think we can do some things still. We just have to get focused and ready to get the Spartans at Hare Field and really take care of business next week.”

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