Beavers shuts out Aloha in final quarter

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Beaverton senior running back Grant Johnson ran 22 times for 171 yards and two touchdowns in the Beavers 29-21 win over Aloha.

It wasn't easy, and with the Beaverton football team it never really is.

It wasn't always pretty, either. Apparently, the Beavers like winning games the hard way.

Yet, at some point this season, whether it's at Westview or against Sunset in two weeks, the Beavers can think back to the fourth quarter of their contest against Aloha and remember the calmness, determination and sheer moxie required to make the plays that must be made to piece together a potential playoff run.

Trailing 21-16 heading into the fourth quarter after a momentum-shifting 98-yard kickoff return by Aloha's Maurice McSwain, Beaverton coolly scored two clutch touchdowns and forced a pair of timely turnovers to turn out a huge 29-21 homecoming win on Friday.

“It's a season changer,” said senior linebacker Anthony Battaro. “The way we bounced back at halftime, the way we came together and fought for the win, it was amazing. It's going to be great for us moving forward in the season. I see big things ahead.”

Aloha had Beaverton on the ropes all evening long, playing just as nervelessly and effectively for three quarters and matching the Beavers blow-for-blow.

The final quarter, however, was Beaverton's time and quite possibly a young team's coming-of-age moment.

Beaverton senior running back Grant Johnson capped a 74-yard drive with a six-yard, spinning, thundering score up the gut that gave the Beavers a 22-21 lead with 10:32 to go in the fourth. Aloha answered back, marching to the Beaver 32 after a 33-yard fly sweep pass from McSwain to Ryan TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Beaverton sophomore quarterback Sam Noyer tries to avoid Aloha cornerback Richard Belog in the third quarter of the Beavers 29-21 win on Friday.

Two plays later, knowing Aloha was looking for Schwartz running up the seam, Battaro decoded Belog's eyes, broke towards the Warrior receiver and tipped the ball straight in the air. Beaver linebacker Casey Cornwell charged the short pop-up and hauled it it with 8:00 to go in the quarter.

“It gave us the ball and momentum forward to win the game,” said Battaro. “We were focused on McSwain because he's a heck of an athlete, but then it just turned into playing ball. The pressure forced their quarterback to make some turnovers and picks.”

Beaverton's offense, in turn, ran the ball eight straight times to drive inside Aloha territory. On 3 and 10, sophomore quarterback Sam Noyer rolled right outside the pocket. With Aloha's Jourdan Dixon hurtling towards him, Noyer stepped up and casted a towering shot to Robby Valentine who ran under the beautifully-hurled ball and hauled it in for a 44-yard score.

“That's been there all year but we really hadn't hooked up yet,” noted Noyer who went 14-21 for 207 yards passing. “It worked tonight.”

“It was a perfect throw, it hit me perfectly in stride,” said Valentine who had six catches for 133 yards. “It was wide open and just a perfect throw by Noyer. He set up and delivered a great throw.”

With 3:13 left in the fourth, the green and ripe Beavers had capsized the Warriors momentum along with snatching a 29-21 lead.

Valentine said Beaverton's mindset wasn't right at the outset of the game and the committed mental mistakes were the finishing. At halftime, Beaverton fell behind 14-7 under a flurry of yellow flags and careless turnovers. But, recognizing Aloha was ready for a dogfight and not about to retreat, Beaverton they took care of business in the second half, slashing and gashing the Warriors with an offensive line of Hilbers, Ryland Boyer, Michael Aguilar, James Harrop, Daniel Sanchez on the ground to the tune of 250 yards.

“We couldn't have done it without our (offensive) line,” said Noyer. “They had a lot of mental mistakes, but they fought and did a heck of a job. I'm proud of them. Our running game was on point, as always, and that's from the line. We kept running the ball and that opened the passing game.”

“When they fire off and get that push, all I need is a little space for myself to make cuts and bounce off defenders,” added Johnson who ran for 171 yards on 22 carries.

Battaro said at halftime the Beaver players rallied together in the locker room, pumping each other up, telling one another it was their game to TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Aloha wide receiver Ryan Schwartz had a big first half with 95 total yards and a touchdown against Beaverton.

“We fought for each other,” said Valentine. “We really came out and showed what we could do in the second half. We're just going to keep going from there.”

Warrior quarterback Richard Belog did his best to move Aloha down the field on the final drive of the game, hitting Schwartz and Michael Casey for a duo of first downs.

Beaverton's defense, after getting smoked by Schwartz and McSwain in the first half, held firm in the game's final minutes. Outside linebacker Kiuna Talalemotu- a monster in the backfield with six tackles and two-and-a-half tackles for a loss- sacked Belog on 2 and 10, and then forced the Warrior senior into an intentional grounding penalty on the ensuing play with a swift rush off the end.

Backed up on 4 and 40, Beaver junior defensive end Jared Hilbers broke loose and buried Belog in the backfield to put the dagger in Aloha's still-beating heart with 2:00 to go.

“In the second half we finally picked it up and fought for the win,” said Hilbers. “At halftime, we talked about how we were slacking off and letting them walk all over us like how they did in the past with (former Aloha running back) Thomas (Tyner). We had to kick into our gear and play to our potential, which we did come out and do.”by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Aloha senior wide receiver Maurice McSwain heads into the end zone for a touchdown late in the second quarter of the Warriors loss to Beaverton.

With Belog at the helm, Aloha's offense was a well-oiled engine in the first half, running and throwing the ball with equal efficiency and productivity. Beaverton simply had no response for Schwartz and McSwain who ran post and slants endlessly, constantly outquicking the Beavers off the line of scrimmage and bursting over the middle for TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Aloha senior running back Calvin Davis and wide receiver Maurice McSwain celebrate McSwains four-yard touchdown catch against Beaverton.

Schwartz had five catches and 95 yards of total offense in the first half including a 7-yard touchdown catch from Belog. On 4 and goal from the Beaver 4 with 1:17 to go in the second quarter, McSwain outfoxed the Beaverton secondary with a textbook out pattern at the pylon and reeled in another touchdown to put Aloha up 14-6 halftime.

Beaverton couldn't take either star playmaker away, so Aloha persistently went to the well and came out with triumph.

“We found a play that worked and kept doing it,” said Schwartz. “We had some good success. The way they were lined up, they didn't adjust for a while.”

“We were driving the ball, there's no question about that,” added McSwain.

Junior Allan David picked off a tipped pass by Noyer that stopped a promising Beaverton drive in the first quarter and Casey scooped up a muffed punt in the second quarter that led to Schwartz's score.

However, Beaverton made a couple of key alterations to their pass defense, primarily dropping their linebackers further back into coverage while bringing their defensive backs close to the line of scrimmage. McSwain and Schwartz weren't as deadly in the second half and the Beavers scored on a Cole Cooper field goal and a 13-yard touchdown from Noyer-to-Valentine.

McSwain said Aloha played with a lot off effort but their bugaboo of late has been finding out how to close out a team. The Warriors have lost their last three games by a combined total of 12 points, proving Aloha has the fortitude to stick in the Metro.

“We can play with anybody,” said McSwain. “We've been right there the last three or four weeks. We just have to finish it out. We're getting close. We'll learn. I think we're playing hard and competing. We just have to learn how to win the last quarter. We get hyped and maybe overthink it too much, but we'll figure it out.”

The past three weeks Alohas has far away played much better football after getting shellacked by Tigard and Clackamas in the preseason. They've rediscovered that Warrior pride in time to dare Jesuit and Southridge in the final two games of Metro play.

“It's been all confidence,” said McSwain. “After we lost to Sunset (21-20) we were like 'Ok, we can play'. It gave us a confidence boost.”

“It wasn't the ending we wanted, but we got better,” said Schwartz. “We have to keep working and working. Eventually we're going to make plays at the end of the game and win it. We're right on the cusp. A few more plays and we could be 3-0 in Metro.”

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