Forest Grove holds an opponent scoreless for 1st time in 8 years in 41-0 win
by: Zack Palmer, Forest Grove junior running back Jake Toll stiff-arms a Benson defender during the first quarter of Friday's lopsided 41-0 victory.

PORTLAND - Friday night saw intermittent thunderstorms roll through the Portland Metro area. Luckily the storms missed Lincoln High School, where Forest Grove and Benson clashed in 6A non-conference gridiron action, but the Vikings brought some thunder of their own, laying a 41-0 smack down on the struggling Techmen.

Forest Grove (2-0) dominated the line of scrimmage and moved the ball at will, scoring touchdowns on four of its first five possessions en route to a 27-0 halftime lead that would grow unchecked in the second half. The lopsided win marked the first time Forest Grove has shut out an opponent in eight years.

Benson, meanwhile, was plagued by miscommunication and poor execution on offense. The Techmen (0-2) turned the ball over four times in the second quarter alone - including a fumble and two interceptions on three consecutive plays near the end of the first half - and didn't manage a first down until early in the third quarter.

'We're playing pretty physical defensively,' said Forest Grove head coach Mike McCabe. 'We're running around and laying some hat on people right now and that's good to see. We're not the biggest bunch, but we're pretty aggressive and we'll fly around and hit you.'

The Forest Grove defense forced a three-and-out on Benson's first possession, and the offense went to work hanging its first points on the board. Quarterback Brooks Baumgartner hit the edge on an option play and looked to have an easy first down when he drew a swarm of defenders and deftly pitched the ball to tailback Jake Toll, who scampered 35 yards untouched down the sideline for the first of three touchdowns he would score in the first half.

Toll would add a pair of 4-yard touchdown plunges in the second quarter as Forest Grove built its lead to 20-0, and Baumgartner hooked up with Joey Flanery on a swing pass in the left flats for a 10-yard scoring play with 1:06 remaining to make it 27-0 just before halftime.

'We deferred to the second half because we wanted to go out early and make a statement with our defense,' said McCabe. 'We wanted to go out there, shut them down, get the ball back and then go score on them.'

The Vikings did exactly that and a little bit more, but Benson sabotaged its own cause time and again in the first half. In the second quarter alone, the Techmen fumbled at their own 20-yard line, muffed a 15-yard punt out of their own end zone, fumbled again at their own 9 and threw interceptions on their final two plays of the half.

Benson wouldn't even get a first down until early in the third quarter, but even that success was short-lived as Jake Freeman picked off a pass near midfield and returned it to the 6, setting up Forest Grove's fifth touchdown of the night, a 1-yard dive by fullback Matt Winterbourne.

Forest Grove subbed liberally in the fourth quarter, and it was yet another Benson turnover that led to the Vikings' final score of the night. With 10 minutes left in the game, Omar Miranda intercepted a pass and Forest Grove began a methodical drive that included two powerful first-down runs by Chris Beck and a first-down pass from Aaron Huson to Chris Hormann. Connor Boyer capped the drive with a 20-yard touchdown run straight up the gut and Leif Draznin-French booted the extra point for the final 41-0 margin of victory.

'It was a good win. We made some mistakes along the way, but we talked about the fact that if we want to be a good team, we just have to do things consistently,' said McCabe. 'Offense, defense, special teams - we want to get after it all at the same level instead of having highs and lows. Just maintain a nice, even buzz. We tried to do that tonight and I think we did a pretty good job of it.'

Forest Grove will be back in action next Friday on the road against Franklin.

For a detailed write-up and complete statistics from this game, please see the Sept. 20 issue of the News-Times.

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