Tigard tips Lake Oswego in football thriller
No, make that double wow.
It was a game that included, well, most everything — two talented teams, three fourth-quarter lead changes, big play after big play, physical action and many hard hits, a last-minute touchdown pass and many thrills and chills.
And, for the Tigard High School football team, the game included one other thing — an astounding victory.
The Tigers, getting a game-winning touchdown pass from senior Nick Heinke to senior Braden Lenzy with just 18 seconds left to play in the contest, came away with a thrilling 31-28 win over Lake Oswego in a Three Rivers League opener played Friday at Tigard High School.
"This was the most fun game of my life," Lenzy said with a smile during the Tigers' victory celebration. "It was the most intense game I've ever been in. It was like a classic Pac-12 or SEC game. This was easily the No. 1 game I've been in. It was the best time of my life."
"This was super big," Tigard senior lineman Laytan Tanuvasa said. "They're a really good team. They're big and physical. It was a good game, and a fun game."
"Oh my, that was amazing," said Heinke, who passed for 135 yards after taking over quarterback duties for the Tigers in the second half. "That was the most fun I've had in any sporting event."
With the win, Tigard not only got off to a 1-0 start in Three Rivers League play, but the Tigers also improved to 2-1 on the season.
"We got the best of it," Lenzy said, still smiling. "It was a great game."
"It was really big," Heinke said. "We knew we had to have it."
With the loss, Lake Oswego moved to 2-1 on the season.
"It was amazing," said Laker sophomore running back Casey Filkins, who rushed for a game-high 126 yards and a pair of touchdowns. "It was a great game. It was physical. We knew it would be. They made the plays."
"It was a hard-fought game," said Lake Oswego senior quarterback Jake Dukart. "It was two good football teams. It hurts to lose, but it's fun to play in a game like that."
Tigard struck first in Friday's league-opener. The running of senior Spencer Smith and junior Malcolm Stockdale set up a 23-yard field goal by sophomore Jackson Cleaver, giving the Tigers a 3-0 lead with 5 minutes and 51 seconds left to play in the first quarter.
Lake Oswego answered right back. The Lakers marched 90 yards in 10 plays, capping off the drive with a two-yard touchdown run by Filkins, giving Lake Oswego a 7-3 lead with 1:49 left to play in the opening period.
The Lakers, getting a big defensive play were able to add onto their lead. On the final play of the first quarter, Lake Oswego senior linebacker Sam Haney intercepted a Tigard pass, and returned the ball 39 yards for a touchdown, upping the Laker lead to 14-3.
Tigard came back with a long, time-consuming drive. The Tigers moved 80 yards in 16 plays — 13 runs — and capped things off with a one-yard touchdown blast by Smith, which trimmed the margin to 14-10 with 5:33 left to play in the second quarter. Lake Oswego would go on to take that four-point lead to the intermission.
The Lakers were able to add onto their lead in the third quarter. A 32-yard pass from Dukart to senior receiver Jordan Newlin set up a one-yard touchdown run by Filkins, which gave Lake Oswego a 21-10 lead with 3:42 left to play in the period.
But Tigard turned to the speed of Lenzy to quickly get back into the game. The University of Oregon commit returned the ensuing kickoff 41 yards. Then, on the next play from scrimmage, Heinke and Lenzy teamed up for a 41-yard pass play to the Lake Oswego 1-yard line. Stockdale scored on a run two plays later, trimming the lead to 21-17.
On the next Tigard possession, Heinke and Lenzy teamed up again. This time, it was for a 32-yard gain to the Lake Oswego 1-yard line. Stockdale powered his way into the end zone on the very next play. The TD gave the Tigers a 24-21 lead with 7:53 left in the game. Now, suddenly, the Lakers were forced to play catch-up — and that's exactly what they did.
Dukart, completing passes to Filkins, senior Marcus Taylor and sophomore Joe Hutson, engineered a clutch 80-yard scoring drive. Dukart finished the drive himself, scoring on a four-yard run, giving the Lakers a 28-24 lead with just 2:31 left to play in the game.
"It was a quarterback keeper with a read," Dukart said of the go-ahead TD run. "I saw it open up the middle."
But, in a game filled with big plays and clutch drives, the Tigers answered back with the timeliest clutch drive of the back-and-forth contest.
Patiently, Tigard ran the ball effectively with Smith, and also got passes for Heinke to junior receiver Jazz Ross and junior tight end Noah Jackman to move the ball to the Lake Oswego 6-yard line with less than a minute to play in the game.
From there, a one-yard run by Smith and an incomplete pass left the Tigers facing a third-and-goal situation from the Laker 5-yard line with 23 seconds left to play in the game.
On the next play, Heinke, rolling out to his left on a play-action pass, lofted a pass to Lenzy, who was open in the left side of the end zone. Lenzy calmly made a two-handed catch for a touchdown, giving the Tigers a 31-28 lead with 18 seconds remaining.
"I had to make sure not to overthrow him," Heinke said.
"It was crazy," Lenzy said. "The whole thing seemed like it was in slow motion. When I caught it, it felt like victory."
"When he caught it, I don't think I've ever been that pumped up in my life," Heinke said.
Still, with 18 seconds to play, the game wasn't over yet. But, Lenzy made sure the Tigers wouldn't be denied, as he came up with an interception on the final play of the game, clinching the wild 31-28 win, and igniting the Tigers' victory celebration.
"Time," Lenzy said, referring to the key to the Tigard victory. "At the end, we used it to our advantage."
"That was really fun," Tanuvasa said. "I have to hand it to our sophomores. Guys like Max Lenzy and Tyler Penn really stepped up. And the juniors did a great job, too."
Heinke, for the game, completed eight of 12 passes for 135 yards, all coming in the second half. Braden Lenzy caught four of Heinke's passes for 84 yards.
"You have to go back to my freshman year for the last time I threw a pass to Braden," said Heinke, who also plays at receiver, defensive back and punts for the Tigers.
Jackman had two catches for 28 yards for the Tigers and Ross had two receptions for 27 yards.
Smith was Tigard's leading rusher with 83 yards on 16 carries. Stockdale rushed for 63 yards on 16 carries.
For the Tigard defense, senior linebacker Jacob Beck had a quarterback sack. Jackman had two tackles for losses. Max Lenzy and junior Carter Dennis each had one tackle for a loss.
For Lake Oswego, Filkins picked up his 126 rushing yards on 19 carries, as well as his two touchdown runs.
"That was awesome, but I'm disappointed that we didn't win," Filkins said. "This game will make us better. Now, we know what we'll be going up against in the Three Rivers League."
Dukart completed eight of 20 pass attempts for 154 yards.
"This game will bring us closer together," he said. "We really needed to play a competitive game like this. We're going to learn from our mistakes."
Hutson had four catches for 90 yards for the Lakers. Filkins had two receptions for 19 yards and Newlin had one catch for 32 yards.
For the Lake Oswego defense, junior linebacker Bryson Breeze had a quarterback sack and a tackle for a loss. Junior Keenan DeRaeve and senior Shawn Elliott each had a tackle for a loss.
Both teams will be back in action next Friday. Tigard will travel to Newberg and Lake Oswego will play at Canby in Three Rivers League games starting at 7 p.m.