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In the first round of playoffs, Wilsonville overcame a slow start to cruise through the Lava Bears

It was a tough fight on Friday Nov. 3, but Wilsonville put their stamp on it in the end. The Wildcats defeated the Bend Lava Bears 41-21.

A defensive battle was the real story for a majority of the first half. Wilsonville and Bend traded scoreless possessions for the entirety of the first quarter. One of the few highlights being a botched snap on a Bend punt that put the Wildcats in decent field position but unable to capitalize against a firm Lava Bears defense.

At the beginning of the second quarter, Bend had set themselves in a position to put the first points on the board. Wilsonville had none of it. The Wildcats blocked a Bend field goal to get the ball back on their own 19-yard line.

SPOKESMAN PHOTO: TANNER RUSS - Cooper Mootz scored the first touchdown of the night against the visiting Bend Lava Bears. The Wilsonville Wildcats defeated Bend 41-21 on Friday Nov. 3. Wilsonville junior Cooper Mootz went to work on the ensuing drive. Of the six plays on the next drive, Mootz ran the ball four times, most notably a 53 yard run to bring the Wilsonville offense to the Bend 15-yard line. Three plays later, Mootz punched the ball into the end zone on a one yard touchdown run at 9:51 of the second quarter. Senior kicked Austin Kness put away the point after attempt.

Bend was held to a four and out on the ensuing drive, and punted the ball away to the home team. For the Wildcats, it was a play longer, but the end result was the same: a Wilsonville touchdown. Junior quarter back Nathan Overholt hit senior receiver Manav Raghubansh from 15 yards out to put another six points on the board at 4:46 of the second. SPOKESMAN PHOTO: TANNER RUSS - Junior quarterback Nathan Overholt ran for two touchdowns against the Bend Lava Bears on Friday Nov. 3. Wilsonville defeated Bend 41-21.

Bend answered quickly. On the second play of their drive, Lava Bear junior Kyle Reed ran 74 yards to score the first touchdown for Bend. Bend kicker Andy Emerson put away the extra point, and the game stood at a one touchdown differential.

Wilsonville answered with a Kness field goal with 42 seconds left to go in the half.

"The first couple series we didn't execute very well, and then we floated a ball, we didn't block somebody, we didn't run the right route—we played high school football," Wilsonville head coach Adam Guenther said after the game. "That's how it goes sometimes. We corrected it, we fixed it, and the one thing we told them, 'Get better. Every snap, get better.' We got better as the game went along."

Coming out of the half, Wilsonville took off.

Less than a minute into the half, Overholt ran 49 yards to score the third touchdown for Wilsonville at 11:07 of the third quarter.

The Wildcat defense held Bend to a four and out, and got their offense the ball back. In another quick series, Wilsonville scored again on an Overholt touchdown run from 11 yards out at 6:22 of the third quarter.

"The first one wasn't planned, but it ended up working because my receivers got downfield and blocked for me," Overholt said. "The second one was designed, and I had great blocks, (senior) Fernando (Salazar) and Manav the fullback just picked up great blocks."

Wilsonville's defense did their thing yet again and got the ball back to the explosive Wilsonville offense in short order. In four plays, Overholt hit Mootz on a 39 yard pass at 3:25 of the third quarter and got the score to 38-7 in favor of the home team.

Wilsonville forced another four and out from the Bend Lava Bears, and rode possession of the ball into the final frame. The final points the Wildcats put up on the board were three points courtesy of Kness field goal at 8:40 of the fourth quarter.

Bend responded with a touchdown with 4:59 left in the game, junior quarterback Cooper Simmonds hit junior running back Payton Davis on a 12 yard pass to get the visiting team points. The final score of the game came from Lava Bear junior Nate Kelly with four seconds to go in the game. Kelly ran the ball in from two yards out to bring the final score to 41-21.

"They played hard," Guenther said. "That's a good team. They should not be a 15 seed team, we knew they were going to come out and play hard and that's exactly what they did."

Wilsonville moves on to the quarterfinals against Lebanon. That game will be a replay of the state finals from last year, where Lebanon defeated the Wildcats 34-17. Wilsonville's record currently sits at 9-1.

"Definitely excited, rematch from last years state championship game," Mootz said. "Every week we're playing for a new reason, it just adds to the fire that we lost to them in the state championship game. They're traveling here, it's going to be packed, it's going to be crazy."

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