Lake Oswego trails early but holds South Medford to negative yardage for much of the game in a 41-14 win

by: VERN UYETAKE - Lake Oswego's Nick Palermini gets ready to haul in a 38-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter of last week's victory over South Medford. The touchdown put the Lakers up 20-7 in the game. Lake Oswego had two more first-half fumbles in its second-round playoff game on Wednesday and trailed for just the second time this season but still turned its match-up with South Medford into a rout.

The Lakers scored 41 unanswered points after trailing 7-0 at the end of the first quarter, rallying behind a terrific defensive effort in a 41-14 victory to advance to the quarterfinals.

After recording an early stop, Lake Oswego fumbled on its first play from scrimmage. South Medford couldn't take advantage of its good field position and gave the ball back to the Lakers at their own eight-yard-line.

Lake Oswego converted on fourth-and-inches and moved to midfield before Justen Ruppe hit Jack Anderson over the middle on a short completion. Anderson juggled the ball and eventually dropped it and it was ruled a fumble which the Panthers scooped up and took 56 yards for a touchdown.

“We didn't feel like it was a fumble but there's nothing you can do about it. We just went back to business. We were a little out of sync to start off again,” coach Steve Coury said.

Lake Oswego continued to sputter on offense as South Medford locked down on the run.

Despite trailing, there was no cause for concern along the Lake Oswego sideline. The South Medford offense continued to do next to nothing against the Laker defense.

“We just had to keep doing what we do. We knew one of their receivers was a big playmaker so we just wanted to lock him down,” Anderson said.

In fact, South Medford was held to negative yardage for the majority of the game.

Midway through the second quarter, Lake Oswego finally broke through. After a bobbled snap on a punt attempt gave the Lakers great field position, a 23-yard keeper by Ruppe set up a 14-yard touchdown pass from Ruppe to Connor Griffin to knot the score.

“We didn't think they could do much against our defense. They wanted to stop the run so we had to start throwing it over the top,” Coury said.

One minute later, Nick Underwood met South Medford's runningback in the backfield and ripped the ball away from him, taking it 25 yards for a spectacular touchdown.

The Lakers never looked back from that point on.

Anderson recorded a touchdown on the Panthers' next possession and, two plays later, Ruppe hit Nick Palermini for a 38-yard score.

“We have a ton of weapons that can step up for us,” Anderson said.

South Medford recorded its first first down of the game on its next drive just minutes before the end of the half but the team was still forced to punt.

Lake Oswego received the ball to open the second half and a 30-yard run from J.B. Holmes set up his own nine-yard touchdown run one play later.

Spencer Anderson recorded a huge sack for a loss of 18 yards on South Medford's first drive of the second half as the Laker defense picked up where it left off.

The Lakers appeared to be stopped on their next drive and went back to punt. However, Griffin struggled with the snap and took off running, going 11 yards for a first down. That would lead to a 12-yard keeper from Jack Anderson to make it 34-7.

Jack Anderson would continue his stellar night just a few plays later when he tallied his second interception of the game with a terrific one-handed catch.

“I'll tell you, Jack is an all-state player if there ever was one,” Coury said.

Ruppe then hit Griffin for a 43-yard gain to set up another short touchdown run from Ruppe.

South Medford would finally muster a drive early in the fourth quarter and would break the Lakers' scoring run to make it 41-14 with nine minutes to play.

That was as close as the Panthers would get as the Lakers easily advanced and will now travel to face West Salem this Friday with another trip to PGE Park and the semifinals on the line.

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