Prep football: Run game lifts Milwaukie over La Salle, 36-34
As Milwaukie quarterback Grey Andreasen-VanOtten scanned the La Salle Prep defense, he saw something that made him think it might be a mistake to turn and hand the ball to Noah Ramirez.
So, he called his own number.
Facing fourth-and-1, Andreasen-VanOtten faked a handoff to Ramirez, kept the ball and scored on a 28-yard run with 1:06 to play as the Mustangs celebrated homecoming with a 36-34 Northwest Oregon Conference victory Friday over the Falcons.
Elisjsha Vincent and Ramirez had two touchdowns each, and Chazz Amundson finished with a game-high 220 yards rushing on 27 carries as the Mustangs (4-1, 3-1 NWOC) moved into a second-place tie with Sandy, one game behind league-leading Wilsonville.
"Our kids played hard and we played physical," Mustangs coach Jon Wolf said. "We did some really good things, offensively and defensively, but we also made some mistakes that we need to fix if we hope to get better.
"This was a real big win -- a great victory for our kids and our community. I feel like we're heading in the right direction, but we've still got work to do."
Trailing 30-14 in the fourth quarter, La Salle scored two touchdowns less than three minutes apart to cut Milwaukie's lead to 30-27 with 4:12 remaining.
After the Falcons sent the ensuing kickoff out of bounds at the Milwaukie 43-yard line, the Mustangs went back to what they had been doing all night, running the ball with the 6-foot-2, 205-pound Amundson and the 6-foot, 240-pound Ramirez.
Five consecutive run plays -- three to Amundson and two to Ramirez -- netted 29 yards and put the Mustangs in a position where they faced fourth-and-1 at the Falcons' 28.
As Milwaukie came to the line of scrimmage, Amundson lined up in the slot to the left, leaving Ramirez as a single setback behind the quarterback.
"I saw that La Salle was crowding the line, so I just felt like it was a good time to keep it," Andreasen-VanOtten said. "My coach was like, 'Just give the ball to Noah,' but I was like, 'I don't want to this play.'
"I could see everybody collapsing, so I was just going to take what was there."
Wolf said he wasn't surprised when he saw his quarterback keep the ball.
"To be honest, it was the right decision," Wolf said. "Nine times out of 10, Ramirez is going to get the ball in that situation, but right then it was a good call, well executed, and a great run."
The Falcons (3-3, 2-2) answered with a five-play, 69-yard scoring drive that ended with Tae Brooks scoring his third touchdown of the game on a 22-yard pass from Justin Owens with 27.3 seconds left.
That left just enough time for La Salle to attempt an onside kick, which Milwaukie's Donovan Wah smothered at the Mustangs' 35, and then Andreasen-VanOtten took a knee once and the game was over.
"The more physical team prevailed," Falcons coach Aaron Hazel said. "Milwaukie has a bunch of physical kids up front, Coach Wolf does a great job with them, and they run their system and do it really, really well.
"They just come right at you and kind of say, 'Hey, we're going to be a little tougher than you today.' At times, we did a great job of staying up there strong, but throughout the game, they wore us down."
Milwaukie's offensive line -- right tackle Daniel Berezhinskiy, right guard Eric Elgin, center Jacob De Lamater, left guard Noah Vincent, and left tackle Kaiden Durheim -- opened some nice running lanes for Amundson and Ramirez, but there also were times when there were no holes to run through and Amundson and Ramirez created their own running lanes.
"All that work in the weight room is paying off, I think," said Amundson, who had 157 of his 220 yards rushing before halftime. "It felt great. I'm not going to lie, I really wanted to beat La Salle. I wish the score wasn't as close, but … I'm glad we got the 'W.'
"I didn't get any touchdowns, but I got plenty of yards. And all the play fakes when the defense kept running to me, that left everyone else open to make plays and that's what we needed."
Milwaukie finished with 328 yards rushing, but the Mustangs also did some special things with their passing game.
Andreasen-VanOtten completed 5 of 8 passes for 104 yards, including a 20-yard touchdown pass to Elisjsha Vincent that gave the Mustangs an 18-7 lead with 5:19 to play in the second quarter.
After the touchdown pass, Brooks returned the ensuing kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown to lift La Salle back within 18-14 heading into halftime.
La Salle took the second-half kickoff and ran three plays before losing a fumble at the Milwaukie 45.
Four plays later, Ramirez stormed up the middle for 23 yards before he fumbled the ball near the goal line where Elisjsha Vincent picked it up for the touchdown that gave the Mustangs a 24-14 lead.
Milwaukie added to its lead with an eight-play, 40-yard scoring drive that ended with Cameron McPherson scoring on a 6-yard run to make it 30-14 with 11:22 to play in the fourth quarter.
La Salle scored three times after that, but the Mustangs did just enough to hold on, beating the Falcons for the first time in the four seasons they've been in the NWOC together.
"Overall, all of us together, we worked great as a team," Andreasen-VanOtten said. "We had some mistakes, but we came together at the end and we fixed everything. I feel like we did pretty good."
Ethan Edgerly and Justin Owens split time at quarterback for La Salle and finished a combined 12 of 20 passing for 141 yards and two touchdowns, both to Brooks, who had seven receptions for 90 yards.
J.J. Menor had 10 carries for a team-high 61 yards and one touchdown, and Edgergly added 11 carries for 50 yards and another TD.
"That was heartbreaking," Falcons defensive end Tony Huynh said. "Milwaukie runs really hard. The first half, we didn't tackle them low enough as a team.
"I think we could have played a little better. In the end, we didn't come out on top, but we showed that we can play our ball."
With three games remaining in the regular season, Hazel likes his team's chances for reaching the postseason for the first time since making the jump from 4A to 5A four years ago.
"We're still in control of our own destiny," Hazel said. "We said two weeks ago when we were 2-0 in league, all we've done is put ourselves in a position where we control our own destiny. At this moment in time, we still do.
"We've got to win two more games. We'd like to win three, but we've got to win the first one first."
La Salle travels to St. Helens Thursday to take on the Lions (1-5, 1-3), and Milwaukie visits Hillsboro for a 7 p.m. game against the Spartans (1-5, 1-3) at Hare Field.
LA SALE PREP 7 7 0 20 -- 34
MILWAUKIE 12 6 6 12 -- 36
M -- Noah Ramirez 6 run (kick failed)
LS -- J.J. Menor 52 run (Lucas Blakely kick)
M -- Ramirez 1 run (run failed)
M -- Elishsha Vincent 20 pass from Grey Andreasen-VanOtten (run failed)
LS -- Tae Brooks 85 kickoff return (Blakely kick)
M -- Vincent fumble recovery in end zone (pass failed)
M -- Cameron McPherson 6 run (kick failed)
LS -- Ethan Edgerly 2 run (pass failed)
LS -- Brooks 3 pass from Edgerly (Blakely kick)
M -- Andreasen-VanOtten 28 run (kick failed)
LS -- Brooks 22 pass from Justin Owens (Blakely kick)