Home run derby
Milwaukie's big-play ability too much for Sandy
This was not the Milwaukie Mustangs of old a team Sandy dismantled just a season ago. With a new coach, new players and a new attitude, this team had speed, explosion and play-making ability, weapons which had been paying dividends entering Friday.
And they did again against Sandy. The Pioneers hung around but ultimately couldn't combat the Mustangs' talent in a 42-23 loss on Friday at Sandy High School.
COMING OUT SWINGING
With a handful of athletic players who transferred to Milwaukie over the summer, rumor was this team had quick-strike potential. And within moments of the opening kick, the Mustangs validated the hype.
One of the most notable transfers, running back Richard Ramsey, broke a 64-yard touchdown run on the second play of the game, and after a two-point conversion, Milwaukie had an 8-0 lead, 40 seconds into the game.
On the first play of its next possession, quarterback DaJuan Gant hit the speedy receiver, Kendrick Bourne, for a 90-yard touchdown pass, and took a 16-0 lead after another two-point conversion.
It was clear, Milwaukie could score at any moment.
But the Pioneers proved they could, too.
On the first play of the ensuing possession, quarterback Justin Adams connected with wide receiver Karsten Short for a 58-yard touchdown. With a two-point conversion, Sandy cut the deficit to 16-8 and was back in the game with 6:53 left in an exciting first quarter.
Sandy was able to even the score with help from a big interception by linebacker C.J. McKinnis III. The pick set up the offense at Milwaukie's 16-yard line, and running back Kyle Bateman finished the drive by breaking a couple tackles and falling into the end zone for a two-yard touchdown run, which tied the game at 16-16 late in the first quarter.
Milwaukie continued to prove it could strike for a big play at any moment. After Sandy slaved to get back into the game, Ramsey broke another long touchdown run, this one for 47 yards to take a 22-16 lead.
On their next possession, Gant hit wide reciever Trevontae Anderson for a 60-yard touchdown pass, extending the lead to 30-16 with 8:57 left in the second quarter.
But the Pioneers cut the deficit to 30-23 just before halftime, with a one-yard touchdown run by Adams.
After being beat by long passes a handful of times, Sandy decided it would give up the short plays to avoid the home run. The corners were playing way off the receivers and the Mustangs took advantage.
On their first drive of the second half, they used screens, slants and curls to matriculate the ball up the field.
But with the ball on Sandy's 25-yard line, Milwaukie was facing a crucial third-and-14. That's when McKinnis came up with a huge sack, setting up a near-impossible fourth-and-25 situation for the Mustangs.
If the Pioneers could come up with one more stop, they'd be in business offensively.
But Gant found Bourne down near the goal line. Bourne bounced off a tackle and went into the end zone for a back-breaking 35-yard touchdown pass to give Milwaukie a 36-23 lead late in the third quarter.
Sandy still had a chance to battle its way back into the game early in the fourth quarter. Starting at their own 39-yard line, they drove the ball deep into Milwaukie territory. But facing a third-and-7 at the Mustangs' 23-yard line, Ramsey intercepted a pass intended for Sandy wide receiver Blake Robison and returned it 80 yards for a touchdown, extended the lead to 42-23.
REMEMBERING JORDAN COX
Students organized a tribute for Jordan Cox, a 16-year-old Sandy High School student who died last Friday in a car crash. Players wore purple socks, cheerleaders wore purple ribbons in their hair and the student section was full of purple, as well. There was a moment of silence before the game, and afterwards, Cox's two sisters released balloons into the sky.