Sunset starts slow, then stomps on the accelerator to shut out Forest Grove 42-0
by: Miles Vance GOT HIM – Sunset senior Ross Doyle (left) grabs the jersey of Forest Grove’s Jesse Zamora on Friday.

CEDAR MILL - You only get one chance to make a good first impression, but for the Sunset football team, that really didn't matter much on Friday.

The Apollos, hosting Forest Grove in a non-league contest at Sunset High School, turned the ball over on three of their first four possessions and gave the Vikings every impression that they had a chance.

But by game's end, Sunset had made a very different impression - a painful and lasting one - on Forest Grove.

Sunset righted itself after that shaky start, outscored the Vikings 28-0 in the game's middle two quarters and rolled to an easy 42-0 victory. The win lifted the Apollos' non-league record to 2-0 while Forest Grove fell to 0-2.

'We started off slow, but we knew we had good defense to back it up and we just got the ball back,' said senior running back Reggie Coulter, who finished with 112 yards and one touchdown on 13 carries and also caught two passes for 10 yards and another TD. 'We knew we could score any time so we made some adjustments at halftime, and you see that the scoreboard speaks for itself.'

'We knew that no matter what happened on offense, we could bounce back and rally around the defense and get the ball back so our explosive offense could get out there and do something,' added senior running back Zach LaBianco, who had five carries for 58 yards and a TD, and also made an interception.

Indeed, the Apollo defense held the Vikings without a first down in the opening half, limited Forest Grove to just 78 yards in total offense for the game, and forced eight punts and seven fumbles.

'We put our defense in some hard spots, but it never broke,' Coulter said. 'We have a lot of experience on the team so we just keep our heads up and bounce right back.'

That defensive effort, which forced three turnovers in the game, gave the Sunset offense plenty of time to get into gear.

Indeed, it was LaBianco's interception at the Sunset 12-yard line that set the table for the Apollos' first score. Quarterback Dane Poorman, after throwing interceptions on each of his team's first two series, hit Evan Altorfer for 10 yards, and Coulter carried three times for 10 more, the last of those pushing the ball to the 45.

From there, Poorman connected with junior Ryan Hendry in the right flat, and Hendry spun away from one Viking defender, broke a couple tackles and raced 55 yards to score late in the first quarter. Michael Metter added the first of his six extra points for a 7-0 lead.

The Apollo defense stepped up next, stopping the Vikings on consecutive drives, first forcing a punt after Coulter fumbled the ball away at the Vikings' 23, then getting the ball back on a Forest Grove fumble just one down after snapping the ball over Metter's head and turning it over at the Sunset 39.

Sunset then tacked on two more TDs in the latter half of the second period, getting a 9-yard pass from Poorman to Coulter for the first one, and after a quick stop by the Apollo 'D' and big punt return from Trevor Caldwell, an eight-yard LaBianco run to make it 21-0 with 1:31 to go in the half.

There was more of the same in the third quarter, too. First, the Apollos turned the ball over at their own 33-yard line when a Forest Grove punt touched a Sunset player and the Viks recovered. But Forest Grove fumbled the ball back to Sunset two plays later, with Joey Martin recovering for the Apollos.

Then, on the first play of the ensuing drive, Coulter boosted his team's lead to 28-0 when he raced 80 yards on a dive play.

After another quick stop by the Sunset 'D,' the Apollos pushed downfield behind its offensive line and junior tailback Bruce Jones (he had four straight carries for 38 yards). Poorman capped that possession when he scored on a short dive to make it 35-0 with 4:12 to go in the quarter.

'We've got a lot of depth and a lot of people that can get in' the end zone, LaBianco said. 'And once we get in Metro, we'll only get better and we'll be ready for the playoffs.'

Sunset's last score came when Drew Martin connected with Jermiah Ross on a 16-yard throw with 6:35 left in the game.

Labianco added 58 yards on five carries, while Poorman went 14-of-20 passing for 146 yards, two interceptions and two touchdowns. Hendry led Sunset with three catches for 60 yards.

In its next game, Sunset will play at Centennial at 7 p.m. Friday.

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