Football: The Tigers shine in all aspects of the game in their 51-14 victory
by: DAN BROOD INTO THE CLEAR – Tigard junior running back Benny Wick sprints into the open field during the Tigers’ Pacific Conference game with Newberg on Friday. Tigard gave the homecoming crowd a 51-14 victory.

TIGARD - It certainly would be easy to call Tigard junior Zack Floyd a triple threat.

You could tab Tigard junior Chance Taylor a blitzing sack machine.

You could call the Tigers a motivated team ready to go all out from start to finish.

And you probably wouldn't get any argument from Newberg about any of those descriptions.

Tigard - with Floyd scoring on offense, defense and on a punt return, and with Taylor blitzing from his cornerback spot to come up with three quarterback sacks - sprinted to a 51-14 win over Newberg in a Pacific Conference football game played Friday at Tigard High School.

'Our goal was to not let up at all tonight,' Floyd said after the game. 'We wanted to keep hitting and we want to keep getting better.'

'We like to go at full speed all the time,' said Taylor, who also had a tackle for a loss to go with his three quarterback sacks. 'And that really paid off tonight.'

Newberg dropped to 2-4 in league play and to 3-5 on the season with the loss. Tigard improved to 6-0 in Pacific Conference games and to 8-0 on the season. With the win, Tigard also clinched at least a share of the league championship.

Tigard started Friday's game with plenty of intensity. The Tigers say that's a result their game played at McMinnville on Oct. 13, where they started off flat and led just 14-7 at halftime before pulling away in the second half to get a 61-21 victory.

'A week ago, we learned a wonderful lesson,' Tigard coach Craig Ruecker said following the victory over Newberg. 'No matter how much talent you have, or don't have, you still have to play with excitement and enthusiasm. We didn't do that in the first half last week. To our players' credit, they were bound and determined tonight to come out and play with excitement from the first minute all the way through.'

'After last week at McMinnville we started off slow. So we wanted to come out pumped up tonight,' said Tigard junior tight end Conner Olson, who had a pair of touchdown catches on Friday. 'We wanted to come out and play Tigard football.'

And the Tigers' brand of Tigard football was effective right from the start of Friday's game. In the homestanding Tigers' first possession of the game, they quickly moved up field. A 35-yard run by junior Benny Wick set up a 19-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Niko Freni to Olson, giving Tigard a 7-0 lead just 2 minutes and 25 seconds into the game.

It didn't take Tigard long to strike again. On the ensuing kickoff, Tigard senior kicker Travis Hale forced a fumble with a thunderous tackle, and Tigard junior Zach Eitzen recovered the loose ball at the Tigard 47-yard line.

Three plays later, Floyd scored on a 23-yard run, with senior guard Isaac Schimmels throwing a downfield block near the goal line, to push the lead to 14-0 before Newberg even had the chance to run an offensive play.

And, when the visiting Tigers did run a play, well, that didn't work out well for them, either.

On Newberg's first offensive possession of the game, Taylor and Wick, blitzing from each side, teamed up to sack Tiger junior quarterback Andrew Reichenbach, forcing a punt.

On Tigard's first offensive play following the punt, Freni and senior receiver Brandon Wick connected on a 51-yard touchdown pass play that gave Tigard a 21-0 lead with 5:41 still left in the first quarter.

Late in the opening period, Floyd intercepted a Newberg pass and returned the ball 20 yards for a touchdown that upped the lead to 27-0 with 0:14 left in the first quarter.

Then, early in the second quarter, Floyd returned a Newberg punt 57 yards for a touchdown to complete his touchdown trifecta and give Tigard a 34-0 lead.

'I don't think I've ever done that before,' Floyd said of scoring an offensive, a defensive and a special teams touchdown all in the same game. 'I think it was my first punt return for a touchdown. I'm usually not on the punt return team. I was just filling in. I was hoping they wouldn't kick it to me.'

A 12-yard touchdown pass from Freni to Olson with 4:54 left in the second quarter gave Tigard a 41-0 lead.

'It was a total team effort,' Olson said of the touchdown plays. 'There were great fakes and great blocking and Niko threw some nice passes.'

Olson's second touchdown catch of the game wrapped up the scoring for Tigard in the first half. And it was a dominating first half for the home team. Tigard had 329 total yards of offense in the first half while holding Newberg to 41 total yards.

In the second half, Tigard got a 15-yard touchdown scramble by junior quarterback Sam Stelk and a 35-yard field goal by Hale. Newberg got a 4-yard touchdown run by Reichenbach and an 11-yard TD pass from Reichenbach to senior tight end Cody Danielson in the second half to make the final score 51-14.

'Last week, we came out slow. We weren't playing our game,' Floyd said. 'Tonight, our linemen played real well and that got us going. We're striving to play our game.'

'Tonight was fun,' Olson said. 'It's always fun when we play well.'

Tigard was very balanced on offense in Friday's game, passing for 232 yards and rushing for 228 more.

Freni, who completed his first seven passes of the contest, went 10-for-15 for the game for 160 yards and three TD passes.

Junior Kaz Greene led a balanced Tigard rushing attack with 87 yards on five carries. Benny Wick added 45 yards on three carries and Floyd had 37 yards on two carries.

Olson had five receptions for 60 yards and Brandon Wick had three catches for 70 yards. Junior tight end Jake Biglow added two receptions for 61 yards.

The Tigard defense limited Newberg to 200 yards of total offense, with 60 of those yards coming on a run by Reichenbach in the second half.

'The coaches put together a great game plan,' Taylor said of the defensive effort. 'Our goal was to stop them all game.'

Taylor had all three of his quarterback sacks on blitzes in the first half.

'When they call a blitz, I'm just thinking 'go full speed,'' Taylor said with a smile.

Eitzen, Jarrad Schulte, Peter McCormick and Jacob Mullen each had a fumble recovery for Tigard. Jake Biglow and Stelk each had a tackle for a loss.

Both teams will be back in action in regular-season finales on Friday. Tigard will host Hillsboro and Newberg will play at McMinnville in league games starting at 7 p.m.

Tigard, in its game with Hillsboro on Friday, will be having the team's 'Pink Night' in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Hillsboro is 0-6 in Pacific Conference play this season and 0-8 on the season.

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