Tigard's season ends with state semifinal loss to Lake Oswego

by: DAN BROOD - TIGER TOUCHDOWN -- Tigard High School senior Kaz Greene celebrates after catching an 11-yard touchdown pass from Jett Even late in the second quarter of Saturday's state playoff semifinal game at Jeld-Wen Field. The Tigers fell 42-21 to Lake Oswego. PORTLAND — It’s a big enough challenge going up against an undefeated defending state champion.

That challenge becomes much greater when you fall behind 21-0 to such an outstanding squad.

But the never-say-die Tigard High School football team was almost up to meeting such a daunting challenge.

The Tigers, after falling behind Lake Oswego 21-0, twice rallied to get within seven points of the Lakers before falling 42-21 in a Class 6A state playoff semifinal game played Saturday at Jeld-Wen Field.

“We never give up, no matter what,” Tigard junior receiver Darren Rodrigues said.

“We came out slow,” said Tigard senior Zach Floyd, who rushed for a game-high 121 yards and two touchdowns on 31 carries. “But we tried to battle back. We did all we could.”

Lake Oswego improved to 13-0 on the season with the win, which marked it’s 27th straight victory. The Lakers also advance to play in the Class 6A state championship contest. They’ll face Sheldon for the crown Saturday, starting at 1 p.m. at Jeld-Wen Field.

by: DAN BROOD - FINDING A SEAM -- Tigard High School junior receiver Darren Rodrigues (center) looks to cut between Lake Oswego's Jordan Horak (left) and Chad Walker after catching a pass in Saturday's semifinal game. Tigard, the Pacific Conference champion, finished its season with a record of 11-2. Saturday’s game also marked the Tigers’ first state semifinal appearance since the 2003 season.

“It was a great season,” Tigard senior Kaz Greene said. “We went through a lot this year, and it was really amazing to be here.”

“I’m very proud of our team,” Tigard coach Craig Ruecker said. “If you get to practice on Thanksgiving, that’s special. If you get to play in December, it’s cool.”

And, in the Dec. 1 semifinal playoff game, Tigard found itself facing an early deficit, as Lake Oswego, in its first possession of the contest, got a 33-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Justen Ruppe to senior tight end Mitch Lomax, giving the Lakers a 7-0 lead with 8 minutes and 29 seconds left in the first quarter.

In its next possession, Lake Oswego marched 80 yards in nine plays, capping off its drive with a 3-yard touchdown run by senior running back J.B. Holmes. The TD upped the Laker lead to 14-0 with 19 seconds remaining in the opening period.

Tigard, in its ensuing possession, turned the ball over on downs on its own 46-yard line. It didn’t take Lake Oswego long to capitalize as, on the next play from scrimmage, Laker senior Jack Anderson, scrambling to his right while being put under heavy pressure by Tigard senior lineman Ethan Lange, threw a touchdown pass to junior fullback Nick Anderson.

The TD toss gave Lake Oswego a 21-0 lead with 8:33 remaining in the second quarter.

But that’s when the persistent Tigers began battling back.

In its ensuing possession, Tigard, getting a 28-yard pass from junior quarterback Jett Even to Rodrigues, moved the ball deep into Lake Oswego territory. Facing fourth-and-1 at the Lake Oswego 4-yard line, Floyd, following the block of senior guard Cain Adams, powered his way over the goal line for a Tiger touchdown. Tigard sophomore Brady McGetrick added the first of his three extra-point kicks for the game to cut the Laker lead to 21-7 with 2:22 left in the first half.

It didn’t take Tigard long to strike again.

by: DAN BROOD - TIGER FANS -- The Tigard High School football team received strong support during its state playoff semifinal game on Saturday.On Lake Oswego’s next possession, Tigard junior linebacker Jake Biglow forced a fumble with a thunderous hit on Ruppe. Lange pounced on the loose ball to give the Tigers possession on its own 46-yard line with 53 seconds left in the half.

From there, Even completed a 30-yard pass to Greene and an 8-yard pass to Rodrigues to help move the ball to the Lake Oswego 11-yard line.

On the next play, Even threw an 11-yard TD strike to Greene, who ran a quick up and out to the left side of the field, to trim the lead to 21-14 with 18 seconds left in the half.

“We knew we could battle back,” said Greene, who was playing in his first game since suffering a dislocated left elbow in Tigard’s state playoff opener. “Last week (in a 43-37 quarterfinal win over Central Catholic) we battled back. We’ve battled back all year.”

Tigard may have grabbed momentum with its two late first-half scores, but the Lakers quickly regained it to start the third quarter.

Lake Oswego, in its first possession of the second half, got a 56-yard touchdown strike from Ruppe to senior Connor Griffin, upping its lead to 28-14 with 7:55 remaining in the third quarter.

Tigard again came fighting back. Behind the running of Floyd and junior Manu Rasmussen, and with Even completing a 14-yard pass to Rodrigues, the Tigers again moved deep into Laker territory. Tigard then capped the drive with an 8-yard touchdown run by Floyd that cut the lead to 28-21 with 1:01 remaining in the third DAN BROOD - NICE CATCH -- Tigard junior tight end Nick Duron makes a leaping catch during Saturday's game.

Tigard then got a stop on defense to give itself a chance to tie the game, but Lake Oswego got an interception by junior Jordan Horak to end the next Tiger drive.

But the fired-up Tigard defense, with Adams and senior Blake Chamberlain combining on a quarterback sack, came up with another stop.

Tigard then took over at its own 20 following a Lake Oswego punt with 5:41 left to play. But the Tigers were unable to get a first down, and turned the ball over on downs at their own 21-yard line with 4:06 left in the game.

Anderson scored on a run to the left side on the next play to make the score 35-21. Then, following another interception by Horak, Lomax scored on a 38-yard run on a reverse to push the margin to 42-21 with 1:35 left in the game.

Tigard, still battling, moved the ball to the Lake Oswego 29-yard line before running out of time.

“It was a great game,” Rodrigues said. “And we had an amazing season. I wish it could go longer.”

“They’re a great team, but we let it go in the first half,” Greene said. “We feel like we can play with anyone.”

“In a game between two top teams, things can come down to a handful of plays,” Ruecker said. “And Lake Oswego made those plays. We tip our hats to them. But there is no quit in our team. You saw that in the Central Catholic game. We take a great deal of pride in our football team.”

Floyd, with his game-high 121 rushing yards in the semifinal contest, finished the season with 2,021 yards on the season. He ran for 1,038 yards and 12 touchdowns in Tigard’s four state playoff games.

Rasmussen added 30 yards on seven carries in Saturday’s game. Even completed 10 of 23 pass attempts for 142 yards.

Rodrigues had five receptions for 66 yards and Greene had three catches for 56 yards.

For the Tigard defense, Biglow was in on six total tackles. Senior Robby Chabreck had five total tackles and he also batted down a pair of Lake Oswego passes.

For Lake Oswego, Ruppe completed 10 of 13 passes for 194 yards. Holmes rushed for 70 yards on 14 carries and Griffin had five catches for 117 yards.

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