Tigard downs Central Catholic 43-37 in a state playoff quarterfinal thriller

by: DAN BROOD - THERE HE GOES -- Tigard senior Zach Floyd breaks away from Central Catholic's Beau Duronslet on his way to scoring on a 32-yard run.HILLSBORO — Amid all of the excitement.

Amid all of the action.

Amid all of the big plays and thrills.

Amid all of the rain.

There were a few things that stood out.

That would be heart, determination and the will to win.

And, the Tigard High School football team says, those things made all the difference.

The Tigers, behind their determination and a spectacular second-half performance, rallied from a 28-21 halftime deficit to score a 43-37 win over Central Catholic in an action-packed Class 6A state playoff quarterfinal game played Friday at Hillsboro Stadium.

“We came out and showed we can play with anyone,” said Tigard senior running back Zach Floyd, who ran for 341 yards and three touchdowns in the victory. “This was a great win — probably the best one I’ve been in. We played our hearts out and left everything we had on the field.”

“It was awesome,” Tigard junior quarterback Jett Even said with a smile during the Tigers’ victory celebration. “We had the will to win. We just all wanted this win so bad.”

Central Catholic, the Mt. Hood Conference champion and the No. 2 team in the final OSAA power rankings, finished its season with a final overall record of 9-3.

by: DAN BROOD - JUGGLING CATCH -- Tigard senior tight end Robby Chabreck makes a key reception for the Tigers during a second-quarter scoring drive. Tigard, the Pacific Conference champion and the No. 7 team in the final OSAA power rankings, improved to 11-1 on the season with the victory.

The Tigers also advance to the semifinal round of the state playoffs, marking their first semifinal appearance since 2003. Tigard will face Lake Oswego Saturday in a semifinal tilt set to start at noon at Portland’s Jeld-Wen Field.

“This is just huge for us,” Tigard junior lineman Janak Ward said. “We’re all excited — we’re excited to practice another week.”

“Oh my gosh, this feels amazing,” Tigard junior linebacker/tight end Jake Biglow said. “We haven’t gone this far in a long time. We weren’t going to hold anything back.”

And Tigard certainly seemed to need to play to its full potential against a talented Central Catholic squad.

The Rams wasted little time in showing their big-play aptitude in Friday’s quarterfinal contest. On just the third play from scrimmage, Central Catholic junior quarterback Aidan Wilder and senior receiver Lawrence Wilson teamed up on a 90-yard touchdown pass play that gave the Rams a 7-0 lead with 10 minutes and 41 seconds left in the first quarter.

Tigard answered back right away with a 12-play, 76-yard drive that was capped off with Even’s 9-yard touchdown toss to junior fullback A.J. Hotchkins on a play-action pass.

“That was exciting,” Hotchkins said. “Especially since it was our first one.”

Sophomore Brady McGetrick’s first of five extra-point kicks tied the game at 7-7 with 4:56 left in the opening period. Floyd was the workhorse for Tigard in its initial scoring drive, carrying the ball nine times for 49 yards.

Central Catholic regained the lead, at 14-7, when Wilder threw a 21-yard TD pass to senior Beau Duronslet with 10 seconds remaining in the first quarter.

Tigard again answered back. Floyd ended a 13-play, 78-yard drive with a 5-yard touchdown run, spinning and reaching the ball over the goal line, to tie the game up at 14-14 with 6:04 left before halftime. Floyd also had a key play during the drive with a 19-yard run out of punt formation on a fourth-and-5 play from the Tigard 47-yard line.

by: DAN BROOD - DEFENSE RULES -- Tigard senior defensive back Anthony Consolo celebrates following a fourth-quarter defensive stand. It didn’t take the Rams long to regain the lead. A 75-yard pass from Wilder to sophomore Cameron Scarlett set up a 5-yard TD run by junior Ryan Nall, giving Central Catholic a 21-14 lead with 5:43 remaining in the quarter.

For the third time, Tigard answered back. A 14-yard pass from Even to senior tight end Robby Chabreck helped set up a 14-yard touchdown run by Floyd, which tied the game at 21-21 with 1:56 left before halftime.

But the Tigers, again, had trouble slowing the big-play Rams. A 38-yard pass from Wilder to Scarlett set up an 18-yard TD scramble by Wilder, giving Central Catholic a 28-21 lead with 1:17 remaining in the quarter. The Rams took carried that seven-point advantage to halftime.

However, it was an inspired, and determined Tigard team that took the field in the second half.

“We knew we had to turn it up,” Tigard senior defensive back Anthony Consolo said. “We came out and made some good adjustments. And I think we just wanted it more in the second half.”

Consolo provided one of the key plays for Tigard early in the third quarter, as knocked the ball away from Duronslet on a Central Catholic fourth-down pass play.

The Tigers, in their ensuing possession, moved 63 yards in nine plays, finishing up the drive with Floyd sprinting 32 yards up the middle for a game-tying touchdown, coming with 2:24 left in the third quarter.

Tigard then took its first lead of the game, at 35-28, when Floyd scored on a 29-yard run with 6:49 left to play in the contest.

Central Catholic got a 33-yard touchdown pass from Wilder to Scarlett with 2:35 left to play.

The Rams, trying to take the lead, ran a fake kick on the extra-point try, with Kael Kryer’s pass falling incomplete — with his intended receiver in the end zone surrounded by Tigard defenders — leaving the Tigers with a 35-34 lead.

Chabreck then recovered an onside kick on the Rams’ ensuing kickoff. That set up a 19-yard touchdown run by junior Manu Rasmussen, coming with 1:46 left to play. Tigard, trying to take a two-score lead, got a successful two-point conversion pass from Even to Chabreck to claim a 43-34 advantage.

The Rams tried to battle back. They got a 38-yard field goal by senior Mitch Seeley to trim the margin to 43-37 with just seven seconds left to play in the game.

But Floyd recovered the ensuing onside kick and, one kneel-down later, Tigard began its victory celebration.

“That was quite a game,” Tigard coach Craig Ruecker said. “I’m really proud of our young men. They showed such great will and they never gave up. I think we out-willed them.”

“This feels good — really good,” Hotchkins said. “They came out strong, but we were stronger in the second half. We played with a lot of energy.”

“This is fantastic,” Ward said. “We knew it would be tough, but we stayed together as a team.”

While Tigard certainly had a strong team effort in the victory, Floyd looked to play a huge part in the win as he carried the ball a whopping 47 times to get his 341 rushing yards.

“I told myself I wouldn’t be denied,” Floyd said. “And our offensive line was the key. They opened huge holes.”

Tigard, running behind the line that included senior center Matt Franz, senior guards Cain Adams and Blake Chamberlain, senior tackle Ethan Lange and Ward, as well as tight ends Biglow, Conner Olson and Chabreck, rushed for 391 yards as a team.

“The line just really opened things up,” Even said.

Even completed nine of 12 pass attempts for 106 yards. Hotchkins had four catches for 33 yards and junior receiver Darren Rodrigues had two receptions for 40 yards.

For the Tigard defense, junior linebacker Joe Lobbato led the team with five total tackles, including one for a loss. Hotchkins also had a tackle for a loss and Consolo broke up five Ram passes.

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