The Wolves overcome a scoreless first half to beat Centennial

by: DAVID BALL - DETERMINATION -- Tualatin senior Connor McCullough (left) looks to power his way past Centennial's Aaron Colford in Friday's playoff game. TUALATIN — Tualatin relied on its defense in the first half and got its offense moving after the break to claim a 14-3 win over Centennial in Friday’s opening round of the OSAA 6A football playoffs.

The teams took a scoreless game late into the third quarter of the game played at Tualatin High School before the Timberwolves knocked on the door with a nine-play drive that included a pair of third-down conversions.

Timberwolves QB Brandon Shroyer got the chains moving by hitting Cameron Frey over the middle on 3rd-and-5. On the next play, Shroyer pulled down the ball out of the shotgun formation and took off through the middle for a 20-yard gain.

Shroyer’s feet kept the drive alive on third-and-7 when he stepped out of a tackle in the backfield and escaped around the left side for an 11-yard pick up that put the ball inside the 5.

Just when it seemed Tualatin was ready to take the lead, a high snap sailed over Shroyer’s head. Three Eagles were in hot pursuit, but the Tualatin QB managed to cover it up. Still, the mistake resulted in a 14-yard loss.

Tualatin was not discouraged.

The next play saw Shroyer fire a perfect pass over the top of the defender and into the hands of senior receiver Nick Hines at the back pylon for a 17-yard touchdown.

Centennial tried to answer in one play when Dezmond Stoudamire took a pitch out, stopped near the sideline and let loose with an option pass. Teammate Vince Urrutia got loose behind the defense, but Tualatin’s Nique Reid recovered just in time to get a hand on the ball and tip it away.

“I thought it was a run, but I saw him stop and I knew I had to get back,” Reid said. “I was a bit nervous, but I saw the ball was coming up short and I was able to reach out and get it.”

Centennial went on to turn the drive into three points on a 30-yard field goal by Zach Leslie to cut Tualatin’s lead to 7-3 with 7:02 remaining. Shroyer broke up a third-down pass at the goal line on the previous play to force the kick.

Tualatin took possession and was as focused on picking up first downs as it was on scoring another touchdown. In the end the Timberwolves would do both.

Tualatin was on the verge of a quick three-and-out series after Centennial lineman Justin Lee tripped up Shroyer for a sack that forced 3rd-and-7.

The game would be decided in mere moments.

Shroyer dropped back to throw and spotted Hines open along the sideline. The only problem was that Stoudamire saw him, too.

Shroyer fired the pass and Stoudamire made a break, cutting in front of Hines with only open field between him and the end zone. But Shroyer’s pass had just enough zip on it to leave the Centennial defender empty-handed. Hines hauled it in and turned up the sideline for a 43-yard gain.

“I felt like a big play was going to be made, I’m just glad it was on our side,” Hines said.

“It was a big down, but I trust Nick to make the play in those situations,” Shroyer said.

Shroyer followed with a 17-yard pass to Connor McCullough, setting up Shroyer for a 5-yard run through the middle to make it 14-3 with 4:38 left.

Centennial’s last-chance drive reached midfield before QB Bobby Craswell was hit from behind and fumbled.

Tualatin (7-3) advances to play No. 4 Sheldon (8-2) in the second round Friday in Eugene.

Centennial marched into the red zone on three of its four first-half drives, but couldn’t put any points on the scoreboard. The Eagles came up inches short on fourth down, suffered an interception and were victims of a goal-line stand.

The Eagles moved to the 10-yard line late in the first quarter before back-to-back penalties and a QB sack by Robbie Ellis forced a 3rd-and-30.

Tualatin’s Daeton Harris intercepted a pass to officially end the threat.

Centennial’s best chance for points came at the end of the half when Craswell took a delayed run through the middle before being pulled down at the 1-yard line. The Eagles took their final timeout with 0:19 on the clock.

On the next play, Craswell rolled to his right, but finding no receivers open, he tucked the ball and headed for the goal line. Tualatin linebacker Luke Goessens closed the gap and brought him down six inches short.

The clock kept ticking.

Centennial rushed to the line, while the side judge had to travel about 10 yards to get the ball spotted on the hash mark. The Eagles got the snap off with two ticks left, but officials ruled time had expired by the time Craswell fired the ball into the turf to kill the clock.

Friday’s second round state playoff game at defending Class 6A state champion Sheldon is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. at Sheldon High School.

The Timberwolves and Irish met in the 2007 Class 6A state championship game, with Sheldon getting a 28-14 win.

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