Sherwood edged in overtime in the Class 5A state championship game

by: DAN BROOD - DEFENSIVE DYNAMO -- Sherwood senior defensive end Jordan Kurahara lets out a yell after making a tackle in overtime during the Class 5A state championship game.HILLSBORO — All season long, the Sherwood High School football team was looking for a challenge.

Well, in the Class 5A state championship game, Sherwood got its challenge.

And, what a challenge it was.

In fact, try as they might, it was a challenge that the Bowmen couldn’t quite overcome, despite what looked to be a determined, spirited effort.

A persistent West Albany squad, which fell 48-0 to Sherwood in an early-season non-league game, edged the Bowmen 21-20 in overtime in a classic, physical, thrilling, hard-fought Class 5A state title tilt played Saturday at Hillsboro Stadium.

“West Albany played a heck of a game,” Sherwood senior quarterback Kevin Larkin said after the contest. “They gave us a real battle. Props to West Albany, and props to us. It was a heck of a game, and they were ready.”

by: DAN BROOD - BREAKING AWAY -- Sherwood senior Keegan Lawrence breaks into the clear on his way to scoring on a 41-yard touchdown pass play in Saturday's state title game.“They came out and wanted it,” Sherwood senior running back Keegan Lawrence said. “They deserve the championship. But we definitely played our hearts out. We left it all the field.”

“They brought it,” Sherwood senior lineman Nick Aspen said of West Albany. “We didn’t expect this.”

“It was a heck of a game,” Sherwood coach Greg Lawrence said. “It was well-fought. They came to play and gave us a battle. It was two top-notch programs that really brought it tonight.”

West Albany, the Mid-Willamette Conference champion, finished its season with a final overall record of 12-1. The Bulldogs also claimed their first state championship since 2008.

by: DAN BROOD - TURNOVER TIME -- Sherwood High School senior defensive back Nic Clarke (17) sprints over to the sideline after intercepting a West Albany pass in Saturday's Class 5A state championship game. Sherwood, the Northwest Oregon Conference title winner and defending Class 5A state champion, finished its season with a final mark of 12-1. The Bowmen also took a 25-game winning streak into Saturday’s title tilt.

“It was an amazing season,” Sherwood defensive lineman Ryan Jurgens said. “We played wonderful. And every game we played was a new experience.”

“It was a great season,” Keegan Lawrence said. “It sucks how it ended, but we built a brotherhood, and nothing can change that.”

“Before tonight, this was probably the best season we’ve ever had,” Aspen said. “Every game we gave 100 percent. We gave it everything we had.”

“It all started back in June,” Sherwood senior lineman Travis Kotowski said. “And it all came down to this. We left it all on the field.”

The Bowmen insist they were ready for a battle in Saturday’s championship game. And that battled started right away.

Sherwood, in the opening possession of the contest, methodically moved the ball down field behind the running of Keegan Lawrence, senior Tanner Shadbolt and senior Mickey Schaefer. But the Bowmen were stopped on downs by West Albany’s determined defense on a fourth-and-goal play from the Bulldog 2-yard line.

But Sherwood, undeterred, came roaring back to get on the scoreboard DAN BROOD - JUMPING FOR JOY -- Sherwood senior Keegan Lawrence (left) and junior Zak Taylor celebrate following the first of Lawrence's three touchdowns in Saturday's Class 5A state championship game.

Facing a third-and-24 situation on the West Albany 41-yard line, Lawrence took a shovel pass from Larkin, burst through a big hole opened up by the Bowmen line in the middle of the field and sprinted past the West Albany secondary to the end zone for the game’s first touchdown. Senior Martin Layna added the extra-point kick to give Sherwood a 7-0 lead with 8 minutes and 44 seconds left in the second quarter.

But the Bulldogs came right back.

A 43-yard pass from West Albany senior quarterback Cody Lahoda to senior receiver Andrew Ketelson set up a 7-yard scoring pass from Lahoda to Ketelson. The touchdown tied the game at 7-7 with 6:18 remaining in the first half.

The next time the Bulldogs had the ball, they tried to do more with their passing game, but the Bowmen were ready.

West Albany tried to throw deep on a flea-flicker play, but Sherwood senior defensive back Nic Clarke intercepted the pass at the Sherwood 28-yard line.

“I saw their receiver downfield, so I sprinted down there, went up and got the ball,” Clarke said.

Clarke’s interception helped keep the score knotted up at 7-7 going into halftime. But the Bowmen seemed to take charge with their first possession of the third quarter.

The Bowmen started their first drive of the second half at their own 35-yard line with 8:18 left to play in the period. The drive took up the remainder of the third quarter and one play into the fourth quarter.

During the drive, Sherwood, getting runs of 13, 11 and 10 yards by Lawrence and a 16-yard scramble by Larkin, was able to convert two fourth-downs and one third-down in addition to overcoming a pair of holding penalties.

The 16-play drive ended with Lawrence scoring on a 2-yard run to the right side of the field, reaching the ball inside the pylon. The touchdown gave Sherwood a 14-7 lead with 11:57 remaining in the game.

But, again, West Albany answered right back.

by: DAN BROOD - FIRED UP -- The Sherwood High School football team is ready to go prior to the start of the Class 5A state championship game.The Bulldogs quickly moved 65 yards in seven plays, getting a 7-yard touchdown run by senior Jake LaCoste to tie the game at 14-14 with 9:03 remaining in the fourth quarter.

The Bowmen threatened again after the West Albany touchdown. Sherwood, behind the running of Lawrence and senior fullback Jake Reimer in addition to a 20-yard pass from Larkin to Lawrence, moved the ball deep into West Albany territory in the final minutes of the period. But a Bowmen fumble, recovered by Bulldog junior J.T. Valenzuela, ended the threat with 2:00 remaining in the fourth quarter.

The Sherwood defense forced a quick three-and-out, and the Bowmen took over at the West Albany 47-yard line with no timeouts remaining and 28 seconds left on the clock following a Bulldog punt.

Larkin completed a pair of short passes to Clarke, moving the ball to the West Albany 28-yard line, but time ran out before the Bowmen could get off another play, sending the game to overtime.

The Bowmen, had the first possession of the extra session, where each team gets possession at the 25-yard line.

An 18-yard pass from Larkin to senior running back Nick Dickson put the ball at the West Albany 5-yard line. A holding penalty and an incomplete pass left Sherwood facing a second-and-goal situation from the Bulldog 15-yard line. But that didn’t seem to bother the Bowmen.

On the next play, Lawrence scored on a 15-yard run on a double-handoff, raising his left index finger in the air as he sprinted to the end zone.

However, West Albany senior lineman Matt Soot was able to block the extra-point attempt, leaving Sherwood with a 20-14 lead.

Sherwood senior defensive end Jordan Kurahara stuffed LaCoste on the Bulldogs’ first play in overtime, but the Bowmen were flagged for pass interference on the next play, giving West Albany a first down on the Sherwood 12-yard line.

by: DAN BROOD - GIVING CHASE -- West Albany senior running back Jake LaCoste looks to get away from Sherwood senior Tanner Shadbolt. LaCoste had two touchdowns for the Bulldogs in their 21-20 win.Two plays later, LaCoste, taking a pitch to the left after a fake dive, was able to score from 11 yards out, diving at the left corner of the end zone to get the touchdown.

Bulldog senior kicker Matt Wiest was able to get his extra-point attempt just barely over the outstretched arms of Sherwood seniors Scott Skurdahl and Kurahara to provide the winning margin in West Albany’s 21-20 victory.

“They played better than we did,” Kotowski said. “But I have no doubts that we played our hearts out. I couldn’t be more proud.”

“We left it all on the field,” Clarke said. “The ball didn’t bounce our way.”

“We played tough, but, ultimately, we couldn’t get it done,” Jurgens said. “Our hearts, and our minds were in it, but we were just missing something.”

“West Albany played a heck of a game,” Kotowski said. “They prepared well. They knew our schemes. It was just one of those games. But I’m real proud of my team.”

“It came down to one point,” Kurahara said. “You have to give it to them, since we beat them 48-0 the first time. But our team played every play like it was our last. This was a very memorable season.”

“It wasn’t our turn, this time, but that’s part of life,” Greg Lawrence said. “This was one of the best championship games, and hats off to them. But I’m proud of our kids, on and off the field. You win with grace, and you lose with grace.”

For the game, Sherwood outgained West Albany by a 381-209 margin.

The Bowmen rushed for 292 yards in 61 carries. Keegan Lawrence led the rushing attack with 162 yards on 29 carries. Senior fullback Mickey Schaefer added 58 yards on 16 carries and Reimer had 24 yards on four carries.

by: DAN BROOD - EMOTIONS -- Sherwood players (from left) Martin Layna, Nic Clarke and Spencer Clay show their disappointment after West Albany's 21-20 overtime win in Saturday's Class 5A championship game.Larkin completed five of 11 pass attempts for 89 yards. He also ran for 26 yards on five carries.

Lawrence had two receptions for 61 yards. Clarke had two catches for 10 yards and Dickson had an 18-yard reception.

For the Sherwood defense, Clarke had an interception, Kurahara had two tackles for losses and Reimer and Austin Goldstein each had one tackle for a loss.

For West Albany, LaCoste ran for 110 yards on 27 carries. Lahoda completed five of nine passes for 89 yards. Ketelson had four receptions for 75 yards.

Both Sherwood and West Albany will be moving up to the Class 6A level for the 2014-2015 school year.

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