The Tigers force seven turnovers in the 62-3 playoff win

by: JAIME VALDEZ - GOING THE OTHER WAY -- Tigard senior Sam Inos (21) heads up field after recovering a Grants Pass fumble in Friday's Class 6A state playoff second-round game. Inos scored on this play, and he also had a TD reception in the Tigers' 62-3 victory. TIGARD — The Tigard High School football team was prepared for a gritty battle with Grants Pass in the second round of the of the Oregon Schools and Activities Association Class 6A state playoffs.

After all, while Grants Pass was only the No. 15 team in the final OSAA power rankings, the Cavemen were coming off of a 54-7 blowout against Westview in the opening round of the playoffs.

But, instead of a closely-fought game, the No 2 seeded Tigers turned the contest into a 62-3 blowout of their own in the game played Friday at Tigard High School.

“You would never expect, in a playoff game, for the score to be that way,” Tigers coach Craig Ruecker said. “We played some good football, though.”

With the loss, Grants Pass, the No. 3 team out of Special District 1, finished its season with a final overall record of 7-4.

Tigard, the Pacific Conference champion, improved to 11-0 overall with the postseason win.

With a 62-3 thumping, the natural thing to do would be to praise the Tigard offense. And while the Tigers were very good on offense all night, finishing the game with 389 yards of total offense, the credit should truly be given to Tigard’s savage defense.

by: JAIME VALDEZ - INTO THE CLEAR -- Ti'ard High School senior running  back Manu Rasmussen breaks into the open during the Tigers' state playof' victory over Grants Pass. Rasmussen ran for 160 yards and three touchdowns in the Tigers' 62-3 victory.The Tigers stopped the Caveman throughout the night, holding them to 180 yards of total offense and allowing only a 43-yard field goal in the second quarter. More importantly, Tigard forced seven turnovers.

Tigard junior defensive back Sam Inos returned a fumble 43 yards for a touchdown and the Tiger offense was able to convert four other Cavemen turnovers into touchdowns.

“The defense played more disciplined this game,” Ruecker said. “They played extremely hard and we were in the right places at the right times.”

The Tigers led 21-0 after the first quarter, 41-3 at halftime and 55-3 after the third quarter.

Tigard got an extraordinary performance on the ground from senior running back Manu Rasmussen. On just 12 carries Rasmussen ran for 160 yards and three touchdowns of six, 19 and 22 yards.

“Our line gave us some huge holes,” Rasmussen said. “That’s what has happened every day, every week.”

Junior running back Landon Floyd had two touchdowns on runs of seven yard and one yard.

The Tigard run game, which finished the night with 271 yards, was so effective that senior quarterback Jett Even did not need to throw often. When he did throw, though, Even was deadly. He completed four of seven passes for 116-yards. Two of his four completions went for touchdowns. He connected with junior Brady McGetrick on a seven-yard TD pass and then with Inos on a 38-yard scoring strike.

by: JAIME VALDEZ - RUNNING STRONG -- Tigard junior Landon Floyd (23) picks up yards behind a big block by Tigard senior lineman Byron Hammick Jr.Sophomore running back Alex Graden finished up the Tigard scoring with a 14-yard run with 5:16 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Floyd added to the Tiger running attack in the win with 36 yards on eight carries. Senior Justin Alvarizares rushed for 22 yards on six carries and Graden had 22 yards on three carries.

McGetrick was Tigard’s leading receiver in the victory with two catches for 35 yards.

For the Tigard defense, Inos had a pair of interceptions and senior Bruin Campbell also had an interception, giving him seven on the season.

Inos and senior Joe Lobbato each recovered a Grants Pass fumble. Junior Marcos Vermelho and senior Nick Duron each had a quarterback sack for the Tigers.

Senior linebacker A.J. Hotchkins led the team with 11 total tackles, including two for losses. Senior Jake Biglow, senior Jacob Mullen, senior Ryan Cleveland, Vermelho and sophomore Jay Mendoza each had a tackle for a loss.

For Grants Pass, Ben Dean rushed for 91 yards on 24 carries. Javan Appling completed three of 10 pass attempts for 29 yards for the Cavemen.

The win moved Tigard into the Class 6A quarterfinals, where the Tigers will face North Medford, who squeaked by Oregon City last Friday in a 14-9 win.

Should the Tigers get past North Medford, it may set up a game against No. 1 ranked Central Catholic, who will be facing Clackamas High on Friday.

Having Central Catholic in their bracket does not give the Tigers an easy road to the state championship game. However, Even is brimming with confidence that Tigard can make a run at hoisting the championship trophy by the end of the season.

“I like our chances,” Even said. “We’re going to take it week by week. But we can go far and possibly win state.”

Tigard will host North Medford Friday at 7 p.m. in the state playoff quarterfinal contest.

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