West Linn cant capitalize on Pacer miscues, face Grant in play-in game

by: VERN UYETAKE - Nicholas Yokubaitis picks up some tough yardage for West Linn during the team's game against Lakeridge last week. He ran for 61 yards and a touchdown in the contest.The West Linn football team wrapped up the regular season with another narrow loss, this time at the hands of a Lakeridge team that has stayed healthy this season and one that was coming off its biggest win in years, a dramatic 20-14 victory over rival Lake Oswego.

In a game featuring a handful of big plays, particularly in the first half, the Lions couldn't take advantage of five Pacer turnovers and fell 28-20 heading into this week's play-in game against Grant.

West Linn did well in containing Lakeridge star quarterback Eric Dungey, holding him to just 185 yards passing and 37 yards rushing while intercepting him twice. But it was the Lakeridge running game that did damage as bruising tailback Lopeti Aisea rushed for 233 yards and a pair of scores and had a receiving touchdown.

Both offenses sputtered early with West Linn's opening drive ending on a fourth-down sack and fumble. Meanwhile, Lakeridge failed to make the Lions pay for a short punt that gave the Pacers the ball at the West Linn 28-yard line.

After another failed fourth-down conversion by the Lions, Lakeridge moved quickly down the field with a big catch and then a 36-yard scoring run from Aisea to make it 7-0 late in the opening quarter.

West Linn rallied impressively, getting a good kickoff return into Lakeridge territory.

After quarterback Hayden Coppedge converted with a run on fourth-and-one, the Pacers appeared to have the Lions topped again until an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty gave West Linn new life.

Two plays later, Nicholas Yokubaitis scored on a short run to tie the game.

Midway through the second quarter, the game took a turn for the surreal.

After coming up with a defensive stop, Coppedge hit Kurt Moon on a pass over the middle on the first play of West Linn's next drive. Moon broke multiple tackles in the open field and scampered for a 77-yard score, giving the Lions the lead.

However, on the ensuing kickoff, the Pacers' Vontrell Mills, fielded the ball just on the goal line and found daylight, taking the return 100 yards for a tying score.

West Linn nearly returned the favor on the next kickoff with Cam Schmitz sprinting down the left sideline to the Lakeridge 15-yard line before getting knocked out of bounds.

Two plays later, Schmitz caught an 8-yard touchdown pass. The extra point attempt hit off the upright but the Lions still led 20-14.

The big plays continued as Lakeridge turned the ball over quickly on its next drive thanks to an interception by Braden Vogt. However, on the next play, Lakeridge tallied an interception of its own in the end zone.

Four plays later, the Pacers would cough up the ball again and Schmitz pounced on the fumble meaning that in barely more than two minutes of play, the ball changed possession seven times.

Back-to-back sacks stymied West Linn on its next drive, squandering good field position.

Lakeridge then marched 82 yards, getting big runs from Aisea and the tailback scored from 20 yards out with 2:35 left in the half to give his team a 21-20 lead.

West Linn got some nice running by Yokubaitis late in the half and was aided by two big Lakeridge penalties to move into scoring range.

However, a 28-yard field goal attempt missed wide to finish the half.

Lakeridge moved into West Linn territory on its first drive of the second half but a big sack by Moon and an incomplete pass on fourth down helped give the ball back to the Lions.

Lakeridge would then drive to the 9-yard line after a defensive stop before a fumble was recovered by Moon, killing another drive.

West Linn was able to move the ball before pinning Lakeridge deep with a punt.

However, the Pacers marched 94 yards in 11 plays, getting a 12-yard touchdown pass from Dungey to Aisea to make it 28-20 early in the fourth quarter.

West Linn tailback Louie Germain returned to action for the Lions in the second half and West Linn fed him the ball. The Lions were again forced to punt but the Pacers muffed the return and Tyler Self recovered the loose ball, giving West Linn possession at the 12-yard line.

But, just two plays later, the Lions threw another interception.

Lakeridge would continue to pound the ball and moved out of danger, seemingly putting the game away by driving into West Linn territory.

But an ill-advised pass in the end zone was picked off by Elijah Molden with 1:14 left, giving West Linn new life.

The Lakeridge defense proved up to the challenge and didn't allow a first down, posting another second-half shutout to seal the win.

West Linn will face Grant at home in a play-in game Friday at 7 p.m. The Generals are 2-7 this year and lost 34-21 to Oregon City on Oct. 4.

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