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BLOOD OMEN: Wilsonville defense closes out St. Helens

Tharren Blood's three interceptions help Wildcats beat Lions 23-14


SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: JAKE MCNEAL - Wildcats senior defensive back Tharren Blood (24) intercepted three Lions passes in the first half as Wilsonville beat St. Helens 23-14 on Homecoming on Friday at Randall Stadium.SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: JAKE MCNEAL - Lions senior wide receiver Cody Haag (24) extends for a catch against Wilsonville sophomore defensive back Kevin Burke (33).PHOTOS

Tharren Blood was the Homecoming 'x' factor.

The No. 10 Wildcats' senior defensive back intercepted three first-half passes and kept the third-ranked Lions in check in a 23-14 win on Friday at Randall Stadium.

Wilsonville (4-0 overall, 2-0 Northwest Oregon Conference) beat St. Helens (3-1, 1-1) for the seventh year in a row.

"The difference was our errors," Lions senior running back Haidon Allen said. "We're the better team. We will face them again."

Blood picked Levi Norton and returned it down the right seam to the St. Helens 19-yard line 25 seconds into the game. Wildcats senior running back Dom Rocha ran three yards for a touchdown, senior wide receiver Harrison Steiger split the uprights for the point-after and Wilsonville led 7-0 at 10:47.

"[The defense was] phenomenal," Wildcats coach Adam Guenther said. "Offense, we didn't click. They put us in tough situations, but we got out of there with a 'w.'"

Norton ran for a first down on 4th-and-1 at the Wilsonville 9, but the Wildcats declined a chop block penalty and took over. Senior quarterback Connor Neville shook free of a Zach Gadbois sack, but his third-down pass fell incomplete and Wilsonville punted.

Norton's 4th-and-13 pass down the deep left for Mason Rask fell incomplete at the Wildcats 36.

Steiger caught a 10-yard touchdown but missed the point-after and Wilsonville led 13-0 after a quarter.

"I felt like we were in control the whole game," Wildcats senior wideout Parker Shaw said.

Dylan Brady broke a 21-yard touchdown run and Jacob Hawkins' point-after missed as the Lions answered and trailed 13-6 with 14 minutes to halftime.

Wilsonville junior Austin Kness' 26-yard field goal split the uprights and the Wildcats pushed ahead 16-6 at 8:24.

Jax Ogle ran from the St. Helens 35 to the Wilsonville 42 on a fake 4th-and-1 punt with 6:55, but the drive stalled with a punt from the Wildcats' 40 at 4:10.

Colton Beisley's punt fluttered to the Lions 45 as Wilsonville got a hand on it with two minutes to halftime.

Blood came down with his second interception over his inside shoulder with 45 seconds left.

Allen picked Neville over the middle on the left seam with 8.5 seconds on the clock, but Blood picked his third pass of the half as Norton looked for Beisley in the left of the end zone as time expired.

Wildcats senior running back Andrew Merrick fielded the Lions' third-quarter kickoff at his own 20, crossed to the right sideline and angled down the left sideline for a score and, with Steiger's point-after, a 23-6 lead.

Brady ran for a first down on 4th-and-3 at the Wildcats' 37, but Wilsonville keyed in on the run up the middle. Norton's 4th-and-6 pass for Tucker Mosley at the Wilsonville 30 fell incomplete.

Neville's 4th-and-4 pass for Steiger from his own 34 missed, and Allen took a catch behind the defense to the Wildcats 5. Jax Ogle zipped into the endzone up the middle on 4th-and-goal at the Wilsonville 1, ran right for two points and brought the Lions back to trail 23-14 with 3:36 left in the third.

Neville's 4th-and-8 pass for Merrick at the Lions' 11 missed over the middle at 1:31, but St. Helens punted on 4th-and-2 from its own 20.

Wilsonville gashed the Lions up the middle to chew clock in the fourth, but two holding calls backed it up to its own 45. Merrick ran for a first down on 4th-and-1 at the Lions 29, but Kness' 45-yard field goal attempt went wide left.

Wildcats senior defensive end Draco Bynum sacked Norton for a loss of six at the St. Helens 13 with 6:15 to play, and senior linebacker Kaden Floyd sacked Norton on 4th-and-10 from the Lions' 15 with 8.6 seconds left.

Norton completed five of 19 passes for 55 yards.

Allen rushed for 64 yards on eight carries and caught three passes for 42 yards.

Beisley, Rask and Austin Dragoo all made four tackles.

"I hope we play these guys again," was the Lions' postgame sentiment as they were without senior running backs Myles Terry (shoulder) and Tyler Rea (knee). "We'll be a different team."

The Wildcats are scheduled to play at Putnam (3-1, 2-0) at 7 p.m. on Sept. 30 in Milwaukie.

The Lions host Hillsboro (1-3, 1-1) at 7 p.m. on the same evening.

Wilsonville 23, St. Helens 14

SH 0 6 8 0 — 14

W 13 3 7 0 — 23

Scoring

First quarter

W Dom Rocha 3-yard run (Harrison Steiger PAT good), 10:47

W Steiger 10-yard pass from Connor Neville (PAT missed), 2:55

Second quarter

SH Dylan Brady 21-yard run (Jacob Hawkins PAT missed), 14:00

W Austin Kness 26-yard field goal, 8:24

Third quarter

W Andrew Merrick 80-yard kick return (PAT good), 11:39

SH Jax Ogle 1-yard run (Ogle 2-point run), 3:36