Tigard, after falling behind early, runs to a 57-29 playoff victory

by: DAN BROOD - FLOYD ON THE FLY -- Tigard junior Landon Floyd (23) pulls away from Gresham sophomore Trevor Nannini on his way to scoring on a 30-yard run. Floyd had two TDs for the Tigers in the playoff win. TIGARD — The Tigard High School football team may have learned a bit of a lesson in its postseason opener.

But, even so, the Tigers still came away with an impressive victory.

So, all in all, it turned out to be a pretty good night for the Tigard squad.

The Tigers, after having to play from behind for the first time all season, pulled away from a persistent Gresham team in the second half to post a 57-29 win over the Gophers in a Class 6A state playoff first-round game played Friday at Tigard High School.

“This was a good lesson,” said Tigard senior running back Manu Rasmussen, who rushed for 185 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 16 carries. “We came out not ready, but we fixed it in the second half.”

“We need to always come out ready to play like it’s our last game,” said Tigard senior defensive back Bruin Campbell, who had an interception return for a touchdown in the win. “They were a lot better than we expected. But we got it together.”by: DAN BROOD - TD CELEBRATION -- Tigard senior Manu Rasmussen (10) celebrates with senior teammate Cameron Yarnell after scoring a touchdown in the Tigers' 57-29 win over Gresham.

Gresham, the No. 4 team out of the Mt. Hood Conference, finished its season with a final overall record of 4-7.

Tigard, the Pacific Conference champion, improved to 10-0 with the win. The Tigers also advance to face Grants Pass in a state-playoff second round game to be held Friday, starting at 7 p.m. at Tigard High School.

“We’re going to have to practice hard and play hard,” Tigard senior center Nathan Wick said of the upcoming second-round game.

“We have to bring it every night,” said Tigard junior running back Landon Floyd, who rushed for 63 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the win over Gresham.

The Gophers sure seemed to bring it early in Friday’s state playoff opener at Tigard.

Gresham took a 7-0 lead when senior running back Ken Onyima scored on a 30-yard run with 5 minutes and 36 seconds left in the first quarter. It was the first time the Tigers had trailed in a game all season.

The Tigers came back to tie the game at 7-7 when Floyd scored on a 30-yard run with 44 seconds left in the period.

Tigard then took a 14-7 lead when senior quarterback Jett Even threw a 33-yard play-action touchdown pass to junior receiver Sam Inos with 5:00 remaining in the second quarter.

by: DAN BROOD - PICK SIX -- Tigard senior Bruin Campbell heads up field on his way to scoring on a 52-yard interception return in the Tigers' 57-29 state playoff win over Gresham.
But persistent Gresham came right back.

Gopher senior quarterback Devon Shields threw a 55-yard touchdown pass to senior tight end Ben Bachman, and then he threw a two-point conversion pass to Bachman to give Gresham a 15-14 lead with 4:40 left in the first half. On the TD play, the Gophers lined up in a wildcat formation, with Shields line up at receiver, but he got the ball on a reverse before throwing the scoring pass to Bachman.

Tigard again answered right back. A 19-yard touchdown run by Rasmussen, and a two-point conversion run by Rasmussen gave Tigard a 22-15 lead with 4:03 left before halftime.

Another touchdown pass from Shields to Bachman, this one covering 29 yards, tied the game at 22-22 with 1:12 left in the second quarter.

But, again, Tigard immediately answered back. On the very next offensive play from scrimmage, Even threw a short dump-off pass to A.J. Hotchkins — and the senior fullback took it from there.

With some strong downfield blocking ahead of him Hotchkins sprinted 61 yards for a touchdown that gave Tigard a 29-22 lead at halftime.

The Tigers then took charge in a big way in the second half.

The Tigard defense made the first big play of the third quarter. Campbell, intercepting a pass tipped by Tiger junior linebacker Tyler Walker, ran 52 yards with the turnover for a touchdown that gave Tigard a 36-22 lead with 7:17 left in the DAN BROOD - TIGER TD -- Tigard senior center Nathan Wick (52), next to teammates Jake Biglow (left) and Byron Hammick Jr., puts is arms in the air following a Landon Floyd touchdown run.

“I got the tip and had good blocking in front of me,” Campbell said. “That felt great.”

“That was a big play,” Tigard senior linebacker Jake Biglow said. “That took a lot of energy out of them.”

On Tigard’s next offensive play, Rasmussen sprinted 46 yards for a touchdown that upped the Tigard lead to 43-22 with 5:05 left in the third quarter.

Late in the period, Floyd had his second TD run of the game, this one coming from seven yards out, giving the Tigers a 50-22 lead going into the fourth quarter.

“Those felt good,” Floyd said. “I’m very excited to be part of this team.”

In the final stanza, Tigard got a 7-yard touchdown run from junior Tyler Walker and Gresham got a 33-yard touchdown pass from Shields to Bachman to make the final score 57-29.

“This was a wonderful game for our young men,” Tigard coach Craig Ruecker said. “We faced adversity for the first time, and I was proud of how we met that adversity. In this game, we had to make some adjustments.”

“We showed we can play four quarters,” Wick said. “We have a heart for football.”

Tigard, as a team, had 513 yards of total offense in the victory — running for 287 and passing for 216.

The Tiger offensive line, including Wick, guards Byron Hammick Jr. and Conner Crist and tackles Janak Ward and Alex Anohkin, seemed to play a big part in that potent offensive attack.

by: DAN BROOD - SACK ATTACK -- Tigard senior Nick Duron (15) brings down Gresham quarterback Devon Shields for a loss in Friday's playoff game.“I think we did fantastic,” Wick said. “We did our job.”

Even completed six of 11 pass attempts for 99 yards. Senior Daren Rodrigues was the Tigers’ top receiver with two catches for 68 yards.

For the Tigard defense, senior defensive end Nick Duron had a fumble recovery, a quarterback sack and two other tackles for losses. Senior Joe Lobbato was in on a pair of quarterback sacks. Junior defensive lineman Kevin Henderson had a quarterback sack and Rodrigues had an interception.

For Gresham, Shields completed 13 of 21 pass attempts for 252 yards. Bachman had six catches for 186 yards and Onyima ran for 93 yards on 15 carries.

by: DAN BROOD - TO THE HOUSE -- Tigard senior Manu Rasmussen heads to the end zone during Tigard's win over Gresham.In this Friday’s second-round state playoff contest, Tigard will be facing a Grants Pass team that is 7-3 on the season after rolling to a 54-7 home win over Westview in a state-playoff first round contest.

The Tigers say they’ll be ready for the Cavemen.

“It’s the playoffs,” Biglow said. “You have to give all you have. It’s do or die now for every team.”

“We’ll study up on them and be ready,” Campbell said.

The winner of Friday’s second-round game at Tigard will face either Oregon City or North Medford in the quarterfinals.

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