J.J. Wells saves the day, tackling the holder on a PAT attempt in the overtime

Central Catholic's defending state championship football team survived a scare at Oregon City Friday night, as the Pioneers gave the Rams all they could handle in a 21-20 Central Catholic overtime victory. JOHN LARIVIERE - Central Catholic defensive back Brady Breese (7) says Not on my watch as he breaks up a late-game pass meant for wide receiver Trevon Bradford in Friday nights game in Oregon City.

The game came down to one bad snap.

After Central Catholic had scored and converted the PAT kick in overtime, Oregon City junior quarterback Dequahn Dennis-Lee found senior wide receiver Trevon Bradford open in the end zone on a fourth down play for a 33-yard touchdown.

Trailing 21-20, the Pioneers then elected to go for one and a tie, which would force a second overtime. But the snap from center was high. And by the time Oregon City's PAT kick holder Riley Rexine got the ball down, Central Catholic senior J.J. Wells was on him to make the tackle. And the Rams escaped with the 21-20 victory.

The Pioneers more than held their own with the Rams, finishing with a 322- to 285-yard edge in total offense.

Oregon City started the game like a house afire, scoring on its first two possessions, for a 14-0 first-quarter lead.

Junior running back Daniel Tkach capped off a 77-yard, nine-play drive with a 2-yard touchdown; and Jordon Phillips' on-target PAT kick made it 7-0 Oregon City.

The Pioneers stopped the Rams on downs at the Oregon city 33. Just five plays later, Tkach scored from five yards out. The PAT kick rang true, and it was a 14-0 ball game with the first quarter winding down.

The Rams coaching staff replaced starting quarterback Brady Breese with 5-11, 175-pound junior Deandre Smith, and Central Catholic appeared to execute its hurry-up offense with a newfound intensity.

Oregon City halted a Ram 15-play drive on downs deep in Pioneer territory. But the Rams got the ball back through a punt at the Oregon City 45. And just three plays later, Wells found the end zone on an eight-yard carry, trimming Oregon City's lead to 14-7.

Oregon City mounted one more drive deep into Ram territory before halftime. But the Pioneers ran out of time and timeouts. The half ended with Dennis-Lee being sacked and the clock running out before Oregon City could get off a 30-yard attempt at a field goal.

It was a back-and-forth battle in the third period, a period which included a controversial call where a Pioneer punt appeared to hit a Central Catholic player and was then pounced on by an Oregon City player at the Central Catholic 15. But the officials saw it differently and awarded the ball to Central Catholic.

Central Catholic knotted the score at 14-14, scoring its second touchdown on a 2-yard run by Rust at the end of a 52-yard drive with 4:33 left in regulation.

The overtime followed, and the Rams survived a tough, tough challenge.JOHN LARIVIERE - Oregon City defensive back Trevon Bradford (right) forces Central Catholic wide receiver Jack Vecchi (14) to fumble in the third quarter of Fridays game. The fumble, recovered by junior defensive back Rieker Daniel (24), was Central Catholics only turnover of the game.

Smith had a big night for Central Catholic, completing 15-of-19 passes for 135 yards, and hooking up with Breese for a 21-yard touchdown pass on a third down play in the overtime.

Breese (18 carries, 58 yards) led a Ram ground attack that netted only 137 yards.

For Oregon city, Dequahn Dennis-Lee completed 12-of-21 passes for 206 yards; Bradford had eight receptions for 163 yards; and Tkach rushed 29 times for 89 yards.

Senior linebacker Kiahve Dennis-Lee had a career night for Oregon City on defense, making 15 tackles and eight assists. Bradford had eight unassisted tackles at defensive back.

Oregon City coach Randy Nyquist commented:

“The game was a very physical hard fought game from both teams. I am disappointed we were not able to win the game, but so very proud of our team and the effort from the kids. This will make us stronger and we will continue to grow and improve as the season unfolds.

“I thought that our defense played well and gave us a chance to win against a very good football team. Kiahve played extremely well and lead by example with his competitive spirit. Trevon Bradford made some big plays that gave our team a chance to win the game.”

It's been a rough start to the season for the Rams, who dropped their first two games, losing 27-14 to Jesuit and 66-17 to St. John Bosco, a California team that is considered one of the top high school teams in the country.

Ranked fifth in the state, the Rams could face another stiff challenge on Friday, Sept. 25, when they have an away game with Centennial. The Eagles are 3-0 to start the season, and they've scored 170 points in their first three games. Last Friday they put 70 points on the scoreboard in a 70-42 win at Reynolds.

With the loss, Oregon City slipped to 1-2. The Pioneers have an away game with David Douglas (0-3) on Sept. 25. The Scots dropped a 28-24 heartbreaker to Clackamas last Friday.

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