Lakeridge scores 21 unanswered to top the Cougars for the first time since 2006

by: VERN UYETAKE - Lakeridge's Holden Catlett tries to shake a tackle in the Pacers' 28-14 win over Canby last week.The Lakeridge football team picked up its biggest win of the season to date, heading into perhaps its most significant game of the year on Friday.

The Pacers knocked off Canby for the first time since 2006 and for the first time since the Cougars rejoined the Three Rivers League, overcoming a first-half deficit to win 28-14.

In years past, Canby has been a difficult match-up for the Pacers, possessing a big front on both sides of the ball and a running game that has been tough for Lakeridge to stop.

However, a much-improved defensive corps from the Pacers and a banged-up Cougar team allowed Lakeridge to bottle up Canby's offense, keeping it off the board in the second half.

“Our defense is starting to play with consistency and I like where we're at,” coach Tom Smythe said.

Canby made no secret about its offense and it did find some early success on the ground. The Cougars broke a 50-yard touchdown run to get on the board midway through the first quarter.

Lakeridge countered early in the second period with a nice drive, culminated by a one-yard touchdown run from Lopeti Aisea.

The Pacers did well to mix up the offense against Canby, running the ball 29 times between Aisea and Holden Catlett.

“You like to be as balanced as possible. Holden is a great change of pace back and Lopeti certainly gives us a different look,” Smythe said.

Canby would break another big run shortly after Lakeridge tied the game and led 14-7 at the break.

But the Pacers made adjustments on both sides of the ball and dominated the second half.

Lakeridge tied the game again in the third quarter when Eric Dungey connected with JR McLaughlin for a 37-yard strike, Dungey's longest completion of the game.

Canby made a point of trying to disrupt the Pacers' passing attack and it opened things up on the ground.

Lakeridge would grab its first lead on a seven-yard scramble from Dungey late in the third quarter and the defense continued to hold strong.

Canby had trouble holding onto the ball at times, fumbling six times and turning it over twice, which disrupted its offense.

Still holding a one-score lead, Lakeridge would all but seal the game on a long touchdown run from Aisea in the fourth quarter.

When faced with a deficit, Canby has struggled to scored quickly this season as its passing attack has been inconsistent.

The Pacers never allowed the Cougars to get back in the game and held on for their first league victory.

Lakeridge is now 1-2 in the TRL but is just one game out of first place.

“I've said that if you can get through the league without half your team on crutches, you should be in good shape and I think we've proven that we can be very competitive,” Smythe said.

Lakeridge is also still ranked in the top-10 by the OSAA.

Lakeridge will host No. 9 Lake Oswego at 7:30 p.m. Friday, a team that is also coming off its biggest win of the season over previously unbeaten Clackamas.

“They've played some of the best teams in the state pretty well and have gone back to their bread and butter. I think it's going to be entertaining,” Smythe said.

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