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Three fumbles and relentless ground attack hurt West Linn against Canby

by: JEFF GOODMAN - West Linn's Brendan O'Brien gets airborn in an attempt to make a tackle during last week's loss to Canby. The Lions will close out the regular season on Friday against Lakeridge.West Linn dug itself too deep a hole to climb out of Friday as turnovers and a steady running attack from Canby handed the Lions a tough 35-14 loss.

The Lions struggled out of the gate on offense, fumbling on their first three possessions. That put the West Linn defense in a tough spot, but the squad rose to the challenge early on.

The Cougars, who have been decimated with injuries this season, ran a predictable but effective offense against the Lions, handing the ball off almost exclusively to Noah Kyllo and living and dying on the success of his legs and its offensive line.

In fact, Canby only attempted two passes in the game, one of which was intercepted.

The Cougars started to exert their will against the Lions late in the first quarter and scored on the first play of the second period on a 9-yard keeper from quarterback Austin Taylor.

Canby would score again four minutes later after another miscue by the West Linn offense on a short run by Kyllo to make it 14-0.

When the Cougars have struggled this season, it's when they have been forced to make a rally since the team's passing game is lacking. But, when staked to an early lead, Canby has been extremely formidable and can chew up both yardage and clock.

Canby would go up 21-0 late in the half but the Lions showed some signs of life just a few plays later.

Hayden Coppedge connected with Cam Schmitz for a 55-yard scoring strike to put West Linn on the board with 1:58 in the half and helped get the Lions back into the game.

But West Linn still struggled to slow down Canby's methodical run game. Kyllo would get the ball 43 times and go for 355 yards. As a team, the Cougars ran for 482 yards.

They also succeeded in keeping the ball away from West Linn's offense, which has shown the ability to put up points quickly this season.

For the game, Canby more than doubled West Linn's time of possession. The Lions only had the ball for 13:51.

Canby would go up by three scores again in the third quarter but West Linn continued to battle, punctuating a drive with a 9-yard pass from Coppedge to Ty Cleland.

Coppedge had another solid game, completing 16 of 30 passes for 250 yards and didn't throw an interception. He also completed passes to eight different receivers.

Trailing 28-14, early in the fourth quarter, West Linn had visions of another valiant comeback similar to the one it made against Oregon City last week.

But the Lions couldn't get a key defensive stop. Canby scored with five minutes to go in the game to seal the victory, sending West Linn to 1-3 in league.

The Lions will face Lakeridge at home Friday and could still finish in a tie for third place with a victory and some help.

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