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Football: Milwaukie comes from beind to beat St. Helens

St. Helens gives up a 21-12 third-quarter lead and falls 25-21


Photo Credit: JOHN WILLIAM HOWARD - St. Helens junior Bryce Bumgardner gets tripped up midway through the second quarter of the Lions' 25-21 loss to Milwaukie on Friday night.After squeezing their sodden uniforms dry, hanging up their helmets and packing their things on to the bus, there's one play that will likely stick in the heads of the St. Helens Lions on the long bus ride home.

St. Helens lost 25-21 to Milwaukie on Friday night after holding a 21-12 lead midway through the fourth quarter.

For both the Lions and Milwaukie, who picked up their first win of the season, the year might be defined by a critical fourth down play with just over a minute remaining in the fourth quarter. St. Helens was reeling from a fumble in their own territory, and had allowed Milwaukie to march from their 45 yard-line to inside the St. Helens 10 before finally slowing the Mustang running game.

On fourth and one at the nine yard line, the season hung in the balance for both teams. Then came Milwaukie junior River Meyer to knock things firmly in the Mustangs' direction, rumbling six yards up the middle and setting up quarterback Jon Snyder to scamper in on first and goal from the third yard line.

The touchdown, which came with just 48.8 seconds to play, gave Milwaukie their first lead of the entire season.

From that point, the Lions went into panic mode. Milwaukie's short kick bounced into the hands of Tyler Rea, who couldn't manage to turn upfield. Then, a pass to junior Bryce Bumgardner on the edge bounced off the outstretched fingers of Bumgardner, who had his man beat and would almost certainly have scored. The Lions fumbled the ball out of bounds on the next play, before being backed up by a false start.

In fact, the only forward motion St. Helens could manage on their final possession was on a pass interference call when Bumgardner was thrown to the ground. The next pass fell incomplete before Norton was picked off on the Lions' final play of the game.

As the final buzzer sounded and the Milwaukie student body rushed the field, St. Helens stood motionless, shocked and angry at the loss after having picked up a big win over La Salle a week earlier. As some players left the post game huddle with their hands to their faces, sophomore running back Myles Terry turned and blankly stared back at the emptying home stands, and the throng of students and mauve-clad players celebrating at the edge of the field.

“I'm feeling like crap, I guess. Nicest way I can put it,” he said. “To come from — I don't know what kind of lead we had, but we didn't finish strong. We played one half of football and then we started messing around, thinking we had the game because we beat this team every year. They hadn't won a game, and then we come out and mess around, and we get scored on. Two or three unanswered scores, and we can't do that.”

The first few possessions were excellent for St. Helens, who has struggled to run the ball for most of the season. With Terry taking snaps and following quarterback Levi Norton's blocking, the Lions rumbled through a porous Milwaukie defense and scored in eight plays, taking a 7-0 lead midway through the first on a two-yard run from sophomore Haidon Allen.

The defense then forced a fumble deep in the Mustangs' red zone before Milwaukie forced one of their own, setting up a huge 30-yard run from Meyer to bring the home team nearly even.

St. Helens answered with a six-play, 68-yard drive, capped with a 35-yard touchdown pass from Norton to Allen ten seconds into the second quarter. The Lion defense forced yet another fumble in their own territory, and picked off Snyder midway through the period.

The defense came to play in the third quarter as well, though slowing Meyer proved difficult as the game wore on. After an illegal forward pass backed the Mustangs up to second and 12 at their own 34 yard-line, Meyer took a handoff and was stood up by a pride of Lions — or so it seemed.

The pile kept moving, and somehow Meyer was sprung free. With an open field and a burst of speed, Meyer was gone: 66 yards for a touchdown.

The Lions responded with one of their own, going 61 yards in 10 plays to score on a one yard pass from Norton to Justin Helgerson with just under five minutes to play in the game.

That's when the offense sputtered and went out for St. Helens. The Lions punted on their next possession and gave up a costly fumble when Bumgardner was hit hard at the Lion 45 yard-line with just over four minutes to play. Milwaukie scored on both of their chances in the final period, finally connecting on their first extra point with under a minute to go.

St. Helens will try to pick up the pieces of a season that was likely dashed on the turf in Milwaukie. Only four teams from the nine-team NW Oregon Conference are guaranteed a spot in the 16-team playoff bracket, with one more team chosen from the remaining non-automatic qualifiers based on power ranking. The Lions are mathematically disqualified from contention for one of the four spots, and with their No. 27 ranking and two games remaining, getting the at-large bid is more than a long shot.

Still, the Lions have pride to play for, something demonstrated by a fierce rallying cry from Bumgardner after a sobering talk from head coach Jared Phillips after the game. Bumgardner challenged the team to work and fight for every play next week against Sandy, drawing a shout from the huddle that — for a moment — drowned out the cheers coming from across the field.

Terry, who had his coming-out party on the road at Sandy a year ago, was on the same page.

“I know everybody wants to win. Everybody on this team wants to win,” he said. “We've got to knock off Sandy. We haven't beat them in a couple years. I know everybody wants to win, but we've got to bring the drive to the game next week. That's for sure.”

SUMMARY

Milwaukie 25, St. Helens 21

STHE 07 07 07 00 — 21

MILW 06 00 06 13 25

Scoring:

1st Quarter

STHE — Haidon Allen 2 run (Jacob Hawkins kick), 6:51

MILW — River Meyer 30 run (kick failed), 2:03

2nd Quarter

STHE — H. Allen 35 pass from Levi Norton (J. Hawkins kick), 11:50

3rd Quarter

MILW — River Meyer 66 run (pass failed)

STHE — Justin Helgerson 1 pass from L. Norton (J. Hawkins kick), 4:58

4th Quarter

MILW — Danny Wesson 4 run (kick failed), 5:45

MILW — Jon Snyder 2 run (Griffin Johnson kick), :48.8

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