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Lakers own the second half, force six TOs to advance to the semis vs. South Medford

REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Lake Oswego's Keenan DeRaeve intercepts a pass intended for Jesuit's Trey Lowe during the Lakers' 48-17 home win in the quarterfinals of the Class 6A state playoffs on Friday.The Lake Oswego football team has been lighting up opponents with its big-play capability all year long.

But on Friday, hosting Jesuit in the Class 6A state quarterfinals, it was the Laker defense that took center stage.

Trailing the Crusaders by three points late in the first half, the Lake Oswego defense put its stamp on the rest of the game, shutting out Jesuit for the final 28 minutes and 30 seconds of the contest, forcing six second-half turnovers and paving the way to their 48-17 victory at Lake Oswego High School.

"I'm feeling good," said Lake Oswego junior running back Collin Bracken, who rushed 23 times for 146 yards and two touchdowns. "I'm really proud of my team right now."

"This feels amazing," said junior linebacker Keenan DeRaeve. "I've never been in this position before and I feel on top of the world. It's sweet beating Jesuit."

"It's great to win and all of our hard work paid off," added senior lineman Dawson Jaramillo, who helped his team rush for 250 yards on Friday. "We prepared all week for them to throw everything at us and we knew it would be a smash-mouth game. It was physical and we prepared for that, and it paid off."



With the win, the top-ranked Lakers' ninth straight, Lake Oswego improved to 11-1 overall after sharing the Three Rivers League title with Tigard, one of the state's other surviving Class 6A teams. The victory also gave the Lakers a berth in the state semifinals where they will face fifth-ranked Southwest Conference champion South Medford (11-1 overall) at 5 p.m. Friday at Hillsboro Stadium. The Panthers, winners of 10 straight, earned their semifinal berth by beating No. 4 West Salem 28-14 on Friday. For more on the Lake Oswego-South Medford match-up, click here.

For No. 9 Metro League champion Jesuit, Friday's loss snapped its nine-game winning streak and ended its season with a 10-2 overall record.

"We never gave up," Jesuit senior linebacker Blake Baldocchi said. "We always battled and I'm just thankful for the coaches and everyone on the team. We were a gritty, really feisty bunch. There's a lot of love among our guys. It's a great group."

"I'm proud of my team. I just think we shot ourselves in the foot this game," said Jesuit senior left tackle Travis Spreen. "Lake Oswego got us on a bad night, but kudos to them. Turnovers just killed us, that's it."

The Lakers struck first on Friday, taking a 7-0 lead when Bracken finished a Laker drive with a 13-yard touchdown run and Jake Bazant added the first of his of seven straight extra points.

The Crusaders, however, answered with their punishing ground game, getting a 59-yard touchdown burst from senior running back Trey Lowe to tie the contest at 7-7.

It was Lake Oswego that cashed in next, with senior quarterback Jake Dukart capping a Laker drive with a two-yard TD run that pushed his team back in front at 14-7.

Jesuit answered in-kind, getting a long Lowe run down the left sideline that set the table for a one-yard TD run by junior quarterback Will Spitznagel. Spitznagel's score, with 2 minutes, 33 seconds left in the first quarter, tied the contest at 14-14.

Jesuit scored again, getting a 30-yard David Arndorfer field goal to push back ahead 17-14, but the Lakers had the last laugh of the opening half, getting a 31-yard Dukart-to-Jordan Newlin TD pass at the end of the second period to take a 21-17 lead into the break.

With all that as pre-text — along with the fact that Lowe ran for 181 yards in the first two quarters — it looked like Friday's second half would be a barnburner, a game that might just boil down to which team had the ball last.

But then — with a lot of help from Lake Oswego — the Crusaders came apart at the seams.

On the first possession of the third quarter, Bracken broke a trio of tackles and bolted up the middle for a 20-yard touchdown run to extend the Lakers' lead to 28-17. Two plays later, Lake Oswego junior safety Bryson Breeze stripped the ball out of Lowe's hands and Jaramillo fell on it to give the ball back to the Lakers.

Next, Dukart linked up with Casey Filkins for a 28-yard pickup and Bracken pounded home the ensuing one-yard score to extend Lake Oswego's lead to 34-17 just 3:30 into the third quarter.

"The ball started to bounce (Lake Oswego's) way and they made plays and we didn't — that's what it comes down to," Baldocchi said.

"The beginning of every game is usually pretty physical and you get caught off guard sometimes, but once you settle in and start playing, the physicality can sometimes be the difference, and it went our way tonight," Jaramillo said.

There was more trouble ahead for the Crusaders, too. Jesuit, which had turned the ball over only 11 times total all season (including just one interception), threw four interceptions and fumbled the ball away twice in the second half against Lake Oswego.

The Lakers turned two of those picks into quick touchdowns by the Laker offense, while the Crusaders also suffered with 12 penalties for 125 yards in the game.

As to the Laker defense, it completely dialed in on Lowe in the final two periods, holding him to just four rushing yards in the second half. Lake Oswego seemed to decide that it would force Jesuit's other players to beat them, and on this day, they weren't up to the task.

With Lake Oswego's lead already at 17 points, Jesuit was forced to abandon its run game and split Lowe out wide as a receiver. In response, the Lakers threw two and three defensive backs at the University of Washington commit and dropped extra defenders into coverage elsewhere. Then, with 58 seconds left in the third quarter, DeRaeve shadowed Lowe and picked off an across-the-field throw from Spitznagel on the right sideline. And on the first play of the fourth quarter, Lake Oswego running back Alex Bassett bolted 46 yards to paydirt to extend his team's lead to 41-17.

And finally, Lake Oswego defensive lineman Mike Mercep picked off a screen pass in the middle of the field and Dukart flipped that turnover into a 23-yard touchdown lob to 6-foot-7 Kameron Harvey for the final 48-17 margin.

The Lakers' defense wasn't dome with its domination, however. Lake Oswego later pounced on a fumble around midfield, and junior free safety Henry McNish came up with Lake Oswego's final takeaway of the game on a diving interception.

"The second half was just a state of mind thing," DeRaeve said. "We may not be as big as them, but we have a bigger heart than them and we know how to win."

"They're a really tough team and a really good team, so I'm just glad we played our game and showed people what we're capable of," Bracken said.

For Jesuit, Friday's second-half meltdown marked a disappointing end to what had been another great season that included the team's fifth straight Metro championship.

"I really love all my teammates," Quillin said. "The season didn't end the way we wanted it to...but we're going to be back next year. All of the juniors are going to be back at it starting Monday. We're going to be back and better than ever."

"You have to give them credit because they played a hell of a game," Baldocchi added. "It was different. We're not used to that, but it's a good life lesson."

For the game, Bassett added nine carries for 96 yards, Dukart went 12 of 21 passing for 201 yards and two scores, with Newlin catching four balls for 74 yards, Filkins four for 69 and Harvey two for 51.

For Jesuit, Lowe finished with 19 carries for 196 yards and one TD, and four catches for 50 yards. Spitznagel, who had thrown for 27 touchdowns and just one interception before Friday, went 9 of 20 passing for 107 yards with four interceptions.

— Wade Evanson and Miles Vance contributed to this story

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