The Tigers nearly upset the No. 9-ranked Cavaliers, but mental mistakes prevent NHS from getting a go-ahead score in the fourth quarter

Newberg went toe to toe with No. 9 Clackamas for three quarters Friday night, exchanging scores, but trailing 29-28 in the fourth quarter the Tigers proved to be their own worst enemy.

Mental mistakes and poor execution scuttled Newberg’s final two drives of the game, helping the Cavaliers to avoid the upset and escape Loran Douglas Field SETH GORDON - Junior quarterback Grayson Oviatt finds some space in the Clackamas defense during the first half of Newberg's 29-28 loss to the Cavaliers on Friday night at Loran Douglas Field. Oviatt carried the ball a team-high 18 times for 99 yards and also threw for a score as the Tigers fell to 1-1.

“I’ll give my props to Clackamas, they’re a good team, but we keep playing against two teams,” head coach T.J. Tomlin said. “If we stop playing Newberg, we’re going to be scary, very scary.”

Newberg had already battled from behind four times to set the stage for a tense fourth quarter, beginning with an 18-yard scamper by senior running back Andy Taufest in the first quarter, which came in response to Dan Sherrell’s kickoff return for a touchdown on the game’s opening play.

Tautfest had also been involved in Newberg’s second touchdown, throwing a 29-yard halfback pass to Tyler DeLashmutt that tied the game at 14-14 with just more than three minutes to play in the first quarter.

The only time Tomlin’s squad failed to cash in on a scoring opportunity was in the second quarter after the Cavaliers had kicked a 31-yard field goal, but it wasn’t because the offense couldn’t move the ball. Rather, the Tigers were turned away on fourth-and-goal from the 2-yard line.

Newberg put that behind them, however, on the opening drive of the third quarter, scoring on a 5-yard run by fullback Matthew McCarthy that gave the Tigers their first lead, 21-17.

Clackamas tailback Dan Sherrell, the top returning rusher in 6A, scored on a 25-yard run, but the extra point failed, making it 23-21 Clackamas with 6:23 remaining in the third.

Newberg responded with an 80-yard scoring drive, but nearly crippled themselves with mistakes, as penalties helped put them into a fourth-and-17 situation from the visitors’ 24-yard line. Tautfest came up with yet another huge play, beating a Cavaliers defensive back to the ball and hauling in a touchdown pass from Grayson Oviatt to make it 28-23 at the end of the third.

“It seemed unreal,” Tautfest said. “I was shocked. I couldn’t even believe that had happened. It was just an awesome moment for us.”

The Tigers must have been confident they could answer when Sherrell scored again on the first drive of the fourth quarter to make it 29-28, but mental errors helped do them in on their final two possessions.

The ensuing drive died thanks to a botched snap on third-and-three from their own 38-yard line, forcing a punt with about seven and a half minutes to play.

Starting from near midfield, Clackamas drove to the Newberg 23-yard line, but Sherrell fumbled on second-and-nine and junior Brandon Harper fell on the ball for the Tigers with 4:54 to play.

The Tigers could not take advantage of their good fortune, as another fumbled snap put them in third and long before a broken play on fourth-and-5 was easily snuffed out.

“I’m looking forward to next week, but I’m a little disappointed about (Friday night),” Tomlin said. “It’s just a tough one. Overall, we played so well up front and we just let things slip away.”

Oviatt, in just his second career game as a quarterback, finished with 99 yards rushing on 18 carries against a big and physical Clackamas defensive front. McCarthy rushed for 85 yards on 15 attempts, as Newberg racked up 285 yards on the ground.

“I love my team, my quarterback — what a warrior,” Tautfest said. “We wanted this game. I really thought nothing was going to go wrong for us, but we had a few mental mistakes, bounced back and just came up short.”

Defensively, Andrew Creighton collected a team-high nine tackles, including five solo stops.

Tomlin took responsibility for the mental mistakes, saying it was his job to prepare the team for the situations it faced in the fourth quarter.

“It will not happen again,” he said. “We will be ready next week against McMinn­ville, ready to rock and roll.”

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