The Cougars cough up the ball in a one-possession game late in the fourth quarter of their first setback against the Pacers since 2006.

by: KORY MACGREGOR - Trey Bellmore (left) intercepts a pass by Lakeridge quarterback Eric Dungey early in the first quarter Oct. 10.  Bellmore had two first-half picks in the Cougars 28-14 road loss.LAKE OSWEGO — The ball squirted out, and the Canby football team’s last chance against Lakeridge went with it.

Even with all of their injuries, the Cougars made enough defensive plays to have a chance late in their Oct. 10 league game on the road.

But they couldn’t maintain possession throughout the evening, couldn’t reverse that trend with a waning clock in the fourth quarter and ended up losing 28-14.

“You could say that play summed up our season so far,” senior Trey Bellmore said of his team’s turnover with about 2 minutes remaining. “We get a stop, we do exactly what our coaches are telling us to do, and the next play we fumble. It’s like, ‘Aaaaaagh.’ Things just aren’t going our way right now.”

The fumble was the last of five costly giveaways that contributed to the second-straight setback for a team whose season has become characterized by health woes and dampened hopes.

Canby (3-4, 1-2 in the Three Rivers League), which entered the game with three-straight wins in its all-time series against Lakeridge, fell to the Pacers for the first time since 2006. It is now tied with Lakeridge (5-2, 1-2) in the conference standings.

At least some of the Cougars’ struggles could be attributed to the voids left by key injured starters Sam Bodine, Dominic Shorter, Jace Cates and Craig Fobert, which have tested the roster’s depth. Their absences on the field have also had a noticeable impact on the team’s physical stamina, particularly in second halves.

For the second week in a row, Canby surrendered the final 21 points of a game that was tightly contested early on.

“We’re going in depleted anyway, so you’ve gotta play perfect, and we were far from it,” coach Mike Vaught said. “We were just sloppy with the ball. Fatigue had to play a role. With all the injuries, we’re asking kids to play every down of offense and defense. They’re doing so much.”

Noah Kyllo was the Cougars’ primary running back for the second-straight week, taking 19 carries for 88 yards. His effort included the first touchdown of the game, a 50-yard run midway through the opening quarter.

“We’re trying to work with what we’ve got,” Kyllo said. “We’ve gotta keep our heads up and hopefully improve with the guys we have. ... But since we have so many injuries, everybody’s playing both sides of the ball, everybody was tired and I think we were getting down on ourselves. I don’t know if we have to start conditioning better or something, but that’s something we have to improve on.”

Senior quarterback Austin Taylor rushed 18 times for 55 yards, including a 21-yard touchdown run to give his team a 14-7 lead midway through the second quarter.

But Taylor had trouble manufacturing offense through the air, completing just two of his eight passes for 11 yards. As expected, Lakeridge did what many of Canby’s opponents have tried to do this season: take away its ground game and dare it to pass.

“We knew that was gonna happen all along, but we didn’t think it was gonna matter because we had the horses to run it,” Vaught said. “But now those horses are hurt.”

The Cougars tallied just 172 yards of total offense, a far cry from the 580 they amassed in their rout of the Pacers last year. And yet they remained within striking distance in the fourth quarter thanks to several stellar possessions on defense.

After punting with a seven-point deficit and 5 minutes 42 seconds left, Canby thwarted Lakeridge’s offense and regained control of the ball with 3:46 to play.

The Cougars were unable to string together a sustained drive and punted less than a minute later, but their defense forced the Pacers to attempt a 36-yard field goal that sailed wide.

Canby fumbled on the first play of its ensuing possession. Lakeridge put the game out of reach on a 26-yard touchdown run by Lopeti Aisea with 1:25 remaining.

“The defense played fantastic,” Vaught said. “You couldn’t ask for more from those guys. We turn the ball over like that, and we ask our defense to make stop after stop after stop, and they did it.”

Much of the Cougars’ defensive strategy focused on containing Pacers quarterback Eric Dungey. The crafty junior, who entered the game with 1,668 passing yards, 17 touchdowns and a 66.5-percent completion percentage, was also Lakeridge’s leading rusher through six games with 469 yards and six touchdowns on 67 carries.

Dungey, who went 6-for-23 in last year’s meeting, was much more accurate this time around. He pulled the Pacers into a 14-14 tie on a 37-yard pass to senior receiver J.R. McLaughlin midway through the third quarter, and he gave them their go-ahead touchdown on a 7-yard run with 1:03 left in the period.

“We contained one of the best quarterbacks in the state fairly well,” Vaught said. “We tried to mix it up with a combination of blitzes. The scheme was just to try to keep him in the pocket, to not let him get out and about.”

Canby appeared to have an answer for Lakeridge’s high-octane passing offense in Bellmore, who has been tested due to his lack of size at cornerback.

Bellmore picked off two of Dungey’s passes in the first half, one on the Pacers’ first possession and another late in the second quarter.

“We knew he was going to be their offense, but it’s really hard to simulate someone who can throw the ball that well and run the ball,” Bellmore said. “Dungey is one of the best athletes in the state, so you just have to do what you can. ... I definitely wouldn’t have gotten those (picks) without the line and the linebackers getting pressure on him.”

The Cougars now turn their attention to West Linn (3-4, 1-2), which lost 31-28 to Oregon City this past week. The Lions halted Lake Oswego’s league winning streak at 48 games with a 7-3 triumph the week before that.

Vaught said Cates and Fobert could potentially return for the Oct. 18 home game against West Linn. Shorter (foot) likely won’t be back on the field until at least the following week against Clackamas.

Cates, Fobert, Shorter, Bodine and Devon Fortier all watched their teammates face Lakeridge from the sideline.

“All of us who are injured are going to be like a cheerleading squad tonight,” Cates tweeted before the game.

At this point, it seems Canby will happily take all the support and encouragement it can get.

“We’ve gotta keep a positive attitude,” Bellmore said. We’re not out of this. We’ve just got to keep the positive spirit going. We’ve gotta keep working and come out fired up for West Linn.”



Lakeridge 28, Canby 14

Oct. 10 at Lakeridge High School

First quarter

C — (6:07) Noah Kyllo 50 run (Alejandro Sandoval kick)

Second quarter

L — (8:28) Lopeti Aisea 1 run (Nick Rooney kick)

C — (6:54) Austin Taylor 21 run (Sandoval kick)

Third quarter

L — (7:51) J.R. McLaughlin 37 pass from Eric Dungey (Rooney kick)

L — (1:03) Dungey 7 run (Rooney kick)

Fourth quarter

L — (1:25) Aisea 26 run (Rooney kick)


The Canby football team, which entered its Oct. 10 game with three-straights wins over Lakeridge, fell to the Pacers for the first time since 2006:

2006: Lakeridge 41, CANBY 28

2010: CANBY 33, Lakeridge 29

2011: Canby 41, LAKERIDGE 0

2012: CANBY 43, Lakeridge 7

2013: LAKERIDGE 28, Canby 14

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