by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Beaverton linebacker Brandon Yann closes in on South Salems quarterback in the first quarter of the Beavers loss on Friday.

On Friday the 13th, the Beaverton football team’s Jekyll and Hyde production proved to be an inescapable pitfall.

The Beavers were unconquerable in all three phases of the game in the second and third quarters against South Salem. Exhausting the Saxons with a don’t-take-a-breath offense that scored three times on the ground and a crumpling defense that forced five consecutive three-and-outs, Beaverton overcame a 13-0 first quarter deficit to take a 22-13 lead into the fourth.

Puzzling enough, however, the same Beaverton unit that was gashed and hustled in the first quarter by South Salem, somehow showed its face in the fourth. The Beavers gave up 15 straight points in the fourth to fall behind 28-22 with 2:58 to go, and the offense came to a screeching halt.

Beaverton’s last gasp offensive drive came up short as quarterback Sam Noyer’s scramble on 4 and 16 was four yards short, handing the Beavers a perplexing 28-22 loss at home.

“We just fell apart,” said Noyer. “That’s what we need to work on. We need to work on getting better as a team and can’t take any plays off.”

“I think we took our foot off the gas a little bit, but we shouldn’t have,” said senior running back John Ahn. “We should’ve kept focusing. We didn’t make plays where we should’ve, and that was just detrimental to our whole offense toward the end of the game. We wanted to run the ball, run out the clock (in the fourth quarter) and win. We just couldn’t complete those series.”

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Beaverton running back John Ahn heads into the end zone for the Beavers third straight score against South Salem.

Quick-hitting plays

The unceremonious first quarter aside, in which South Salem scored on a 4 and goal from the Beaver 1 and tacked on an 86-yard jaunt down the left sideline, Beaverton showed off a budding young team that could plant a fright into either Southridge or Jesuit in the Metro League.

Beaverton’s offense was a blur of activity, executing a succession of quick-hitting run plays with Ahn and fellow running back Grant Johnson and short Noyer passes to Bryce Barker and Stephen Marcille that sapped South Salem’s stamina. Beaverton ran 35 plays in the second quarter alone with Johnson rushing for 73 yards on 12 carries, Noyer running for 37 yards and Ahn chipping in 27.

“Our offensive mentality is always ‘Go, go, go’ and wear out the defense,” said Johnson. “I think we were starting to hit our stride in the second quarter. We went into the locker room, and that’s what we talk about, coming out in the second half and outlast the team that we play. That’s what we did. We just didn’t stay focused long enough to keep it for the whole game.”

“If we keep up that tempo, I think we can beat anyone in the state,” said Ahn. “We have the offensive weapons who can do a ton of stuff. We have some injured people that we’ll get back during Metro. I think we’ll pull away and really do great.”

A 16-play, 80-yard drive to start the second quarter ended inches shy of pay dirt with South Salem keeping Noyer out of the end zone on fourth and goal from the Saxon 1. But, Beaverton’s defense forced South Salem to punt from the shadow of its own goal line. The Saxons snapped the ensuing punt attempt off the Beaver crossbar, giving Beaverton a safety to cut the lead to 13-2.

After the free kick, Noyer navigated a 14-play, 49-yard drive that included two huge fourth conversions by the sophomore quarterback. On the last successful fourth down from the Saxon 9, Noyer couldn’t find anybody open, but he kept his feet alive, ducked under a couple of tackle attempts, lowered his helmet and plunged into the end zone for the score. Ahn added the two-point try to trim the deficit to 13-10.

“We hit those bursts, and we’re gone,” said Noyer. “That’s just everybody making their play. It starts with the (offensive) line. They’re working the hardest in practice, and you have to give them all the credit. People don’t see that kind of offense a lot at any level, really. When we’re running it, we’re running it fast, and we catch the defense off-guard a lot. We like to play fast.”

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Beaverton quarterback Sam Noyer pleads his case to an official that he scored a touchdown on 4 and 1 from the South Salem 1 in the second quarter.

Erode the opposition

Johnson said the Beavers know a majority of Oregon high school football teams don’t have the numbers to put their best players on only one side of the ball. Strapped for talent, schools have to deploy their top talent on offense, defense and sometimes special teams. With this in mind, Beaverton likes to erode opposing defenses with five-yard chunks of offense at a time, slowly dissolving a foe until a playmaker like Johnson can bust a big run.

At the start of the third quarter, the senior bell cow broke a Saxon arm tackle and rumbled 37 yards to the house to give Beaverton its first lead of the game, 16-13. Johnson finished with 146 rushing yards.

“I know one person’s never going to bring me down,” said Johnson. “I have to keep my eyes up, find the hole, and when I hit it, I’m going to hit it as hard as I can. That’s what works for me, and my linemen always do a great job to open that one little sliver so I can make a play happen.”

Beaverton wasn’t finished scoring either in the third.

Linebackers Kiuna Talalemotu, JR Sears and Brandon Yann and defensive tackle Keaton O’Neill stuffed South Salem’s ground game on the next possession, bullying the Saxons into a fumble at their own 2 and making South Salem punt on 4 and 33.

Noyer and company briskly flipped the premier field position into an Ahn 6-yard touchdown run on 4 and 1 that put Beaverton up 22-13 with 6:14 to go.

Beaverton possessed a profusion of momentum that it looked as though the Beavers were going to score twice more at least and mosey to an effortless preseason TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Beaverton quarterback Sam Noyer ran for a score against South Salem and threw for 123 yards.

South Salem, however, wasn’t going out with a whimper.

Pay dirt

The Saxons, after getting walloped along the trenches for two quarters, opened a sizable hole for Justin Campbell who sprinted 33 yards to the end zone to make it 22-20 with 10:55 remaining in the fourth.

Beaverton punted on its succeeding two possesions, then, with 4:06 left in the fourth, South Salem completed a 49-yard pass on 3 and 9 to put the ball at the Beaver 10-yard line. Three plays later, Josh Benton bolted six yards around the left side into the end zone to give South Salem a 28-22 lead with 2:58 to go.

“We played well, but we didn’t stay disciplined enough,” said O’Neill. “They game-planned against what we were doing and just outplayed us. They made the most of our mistakes. Mental mistakes killed us.”

The Beavers’ offense, after running at optimum efficiency for 24 minutes, ran out of gas in the fourth, with just one first down in the deciding period. Benton and Campbell were bottled up as well in the second and third quarters, only to bust loose during winning time.

“This is a learning experience for us,” said Johnson. “We just have to bounce back, and we have to know we have to work harder in practice every single week. We’re going to be ready for next week. Then we’re going to get into Metro, and we’re going to be firing on all cylinders.”

Beaverton heads to McKay this Friday before opening Metro play at Southridge in two weeks.

“It was a teachable moment,” added Ahn. “A loss is always disappointing, but there’s a lot of stuff we can take away from this game. There were moments where we really need to keep our mind in the game and not lose focus.”

“I have a lot of faith in our team right now,” said Noyer who threw for 123 yards. “But, we have a lot of room to improve on. I think if we prepare right, then we’ll be good.”

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