Lake Oswego overcomes a few errors to easily knock off one of the states top teams

by: VERN UYETAKE - Lake Oswego's Romello Washington makes a tackle in the secondary during Lake Oswego's home win over Central Catholic on Friday. It wasn't the prettiest effort but there should be plenty of solace for Lake Oswego in the fact that it played far from its best game and still handled one of the state's top teams with relative ease.

While the Rams stayed within striking distance, the game was rarely in doubt as the Lakers rode another dominant defensive performance to a 23-14 win at home.

“These were two good teams and we're fortunate to come out on top. There's a lot of things to correct but I'm proud of the kids,” coach Steve Coury said.

Lake Oswego got off to a strong start, stopping Central Catholic's opening drive with back-to-back sacks by Nick Underwood and Spencer Anderson.

The offense got to work quickly. Justen Ruppe completed a 19-yard pass to Connor Griffin and Underwood broke a 16-yard run to move the Lakers into scoring range. Three plays later, Ruppe hit Underwood for a three-yard touchdown but the extra point attempt was blocked.

Central Catholic missed a long field goal attempt on its next drive and the Lakers went back to work, moving the ball well against the large and athletic Rams defense.

J.B. Holmes took a short pass for a 15-yard gain and Ruppe had a nice scramble for another first down. Ruppe did damage with his legs in the game, running for 60 yards on nine carries, giving the Lakers another weapon.

“He runs with the ball well and the thing I was most impressed with was that he was making the right decisions by not just throwing the ball up for grabs,” Coury said.

After Neil Wagner hauled in a 20-yard pass, Ruppe hit Connor Griffin in the corner of the end zone for a 13-yard touchdown to make it 13-0 with 3:40 left in the half and Lake Oswego looked to be firmly in control of the game.

However, just two plays later, Central Catholic's Beau Duronslet got loose over the middle and caught a pass that he took 73 yards for an important touchdown.

Duronslet was virtually the only player who hurt the Lakers in the game as he had seven catches for 173 yards. Central Catholic's quarterback Aidan Wilder was under pressure for most of the night and the Lakers' defensive line did a nice job containing him. For the evening, the Rams had just 16 yards rushing.

“We know they have a lot of athletes so we had to play good team defense. Their quarterback is a great runner so we just had to try and box him in,” said lineman Austin Faunce.

Lake Oswego opened the second half with the ball and, on the first play from scrimmage, Ruppe connected with Jack Anderson for 59 yards. A 14-yard scramble by Ruppe then set up a one-yard plunge from Holmes as the Lakers extended their lead.

Central Catholic had another quick answer as a 44-yard catch and run from Duronslet set up a short touchdown.

The Lakers would then turn the ball over, giving Central Catholic a chance to grab its first lead of the game. But the defense would rise to the challenge.

After a big sack knocked the Rams back 15 yards, Nick Bunick came up with a terrific interception in the end zone to give the ball back to the Lakers.

Mitch Lomax pulled down a 44-yard pass but penalties would bring the Lakers' drive to a halt in the red zone.

The Lakers brought on kicker Griffin Graves for a 31-yard field goal attempt and he blasted a low kick through the uprights to give Lake Oswego a two-score lead again with 8:12 to play in the game.

“He came in with steel nerves. That was a huge play for us,” Coury said of Graves' kick.

Wagner picked off a pass at midfield to stop Central Catholic's next drive but three penalties, including a holding call which negated a huge run from Ruppe hurt the Lakers again.

Central Catholic would get the ball again but a sack from Faunce forced another long field goal attempt by the Rams which missed well short.

Faunce would record another sack on the final play of the game to lock down the victory.

“It's a huge win. This is a tough team that we might meet again in the playoffs,” Faunce said.

Lake Oswego will travel to Southridge this Friday to take on the 1-2 Skyhawks.

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