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Beaver football can't complete fourth quarter comeback



TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Beaverton offensive coordinator Jimmy Joyce and senior quarterback Carson Crawford share an embrace after the Beavers loss to Clackamas in the Class 6A quarterfinals.

At a certain point, you could feel the comeback coming.

The way the Beaverton football team believed in each other, in the brotherhood they'd built as a squad, the way that say-never-die attitude permeated its program this season made one conclude that the unattainable was within reason.

No deficit was too big, no opponent was too talented, no circumstances were too bleak.

Trailing Clackamas 23-9 at halftime in the Class 6A state quarterfinals on Friday, the Beavers knew a two-score deficit was not insurmountable in the least. Beaverton had dug itself out of bigger holes, with less time on the clock no less, in critical situations before.

This group of high-character, resolute Beavers had a way of making you trust they were never out it, even when they didn't play their best, even when the penalties and self-inflicted wounds mounted and the deficit swelled to double digits against the Cavs.

Yet, though Beaverton stayed true to its credence and shaved Clackamas' lead to 29-21 with 7 minutes and 45 seconds left in the fourth quarter with a blend of offensive brilliance from quarterback Carson Crawford and running back Anthony Albright and some big defensive stops, the sand in the Beavers' postseason hourglass simply ran out.

Jockeying on its conservative, clock-killing rushing attack Clackamas went a 62-yard death march that sucked away the game's remaining precious time along with Beaverton's chance of any last second heroics and concluded the Beavers' season with a 29-21 loss at Clackamas High School.

Clackamas (10-2) will play West Linn (12-0) in the 6A semifinals next Saturday at Providence Park. The Beavers finished their season 9-3 overall after reaching the quarterfinals for the second straight season.

“It's been an amazing run,” said Beaverton senior quarterback Carson Crawford. “I'm going to miss this so much. Whether I go on to play college football or not, this is what I'm gonna miss the most. I'm gonna miss the memories with my guys because we're such a tight-knit group. But, it's been a great run. I'm gonna miss this team for how much we fought and how much we've been through. We just got beat by a good team. They deserve it.”

“We fought back so many times in the fourth quarter and that just shows what kind of team this is and how hard of a loss this is,” said Beaverton senior wide receiver Mataio Talalemotu. “We thought we had it the whole game. There was never a doubt in our minds. Some teams hang their heads. Some team get down on themselves, but we were never out of that game. That's just how we play at Beaverton. We always played and lived through adversity this year. That's just what we do.”

TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Beaverton senior running back Anthony Albright makes his way to the end zone against Clackamas in the Class 6A quarterfinals on Friday.

The end to an unbelievable, barnstorming season that saw the Beaverton football pull off three awe-inspiring comebacks against Lake Oswego, Century and Westview was difficult to surmise. At some juncture. as Clackamas senior running back Jacob McGreevy kept churning his legs moving the chains, you just assumed the Beaver defense would pop the football free and hand it back to the wizardly creative Crawford who would promptly shoot the Beaver offense down the field in four or five plays, score a touchdown and add the two-point try. It's what Beaverton did all season as the unexpected became banked on, not because they leaned on luck for success, but because of the behind-the-scenes work that went into making the indescribable play out on the Friday night stages all season.

“We never gave up,” said Crawford. “If you know us and know our class, we're a group of tight-knit guys that like to grind, honestly. Whether it's workouts in the mornings on Thursdays or lifting on Tuesdays, we were always doing something to get better. We grinded for each other. We didn't get what we wanted to, but this game shouldn't reflect on our season and what we've done.”

In the first half against Clackamas, Beaverton certainly didn't make it easy on itself.

Out of the gates, the Beavers looked poised and possessed as Beaverton senior running back Anthony Albright bolted down the right sideline for a 19-yard touchdown on Beaverton's first offensive possesion that gave the Beavers a 7-0 lead.

Yet, the rest of the first half as a whole was admittedly rough.

McGreevy scored on a two-yard plunge to pull Clackamas even at 7-7. Subsequently, after a Beaver three-and-out, Clackamas' special teams unit closed in on Beaverton punter Tristan Lewis Lewis and blocked the senior's punt as he went to kick inside his own end zone. The ball spun out of the end zone before Clackamas could fall on it, which resulted in a safety and gave the Cavs a 9-7 lead with 4:30 left.

Later, in the second quarter on 4th down and 4 yards to go, Clackamas quarterback Mitchell Modjeski flipped a wide receiver screen pass to Cole Turner, who stiff-armed a Beaver defensive back to the turf and glided to the house for a 25-yard touchdown to extend Clackamas' lead to 16-7 with 5:42 left.

TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Beaverton senior cornerback Karac Leyva wraps up a Clackamas wide receiver in the Class 6A quarterfinals.

Then, a handful of penalties stalled Beaverton's next promising offensive drive. And, on the ensuing punt, the snap was botched, which forced Lewis to fall on the ball at the Beaver 31 to avoid further damage with 2:30 to go. Five plays later, McGreevy split the middle of the Beaver defensive line and scored from two yards out to go up 23-7 at the half.

“We did all we could, I truly believe that,” said Crawford. “We came out super flat. Even though we scored first, we didn't keep that momentum at all. (Clackamas) outplayed us today, but I truly believe that they weren't the better team. But, they did play better than us and they earned that win. That's a good team.”

Still, for all the back-breaking penalties that wiped away a trio of long Albright runs, the mishandlings on special teams and Clackamas' overpowering rushing attack, Beaverton was down just two scores at the half. And, on the Beavers' opening drive of the third quarter after a 25-yard catch-and-run by Talalemotu and three first downs from Crawford, Albright scored from four yards out to bring Beaverton within 23-14 with 6:23 to go.

“We tried to stay cool, we tried to stay calm,” said Talalemotu. “We knew we could get it done on offense, we just had to get stops on defense and make plays. All credit to Clackamas. They held the ball for a long time. They knew their gameplan and executed it well.”

Modjeski took in a one-yard quarterback draw at the beginning of the fourth that pushed Clackamas' lead to 29-14. Yet, on 4 and 3 at the Cavalier 32 Crawford looked to his right, then lofted a ball to a wide open Albright downfield for the 32-yard score with 7:45 left in the fourth that closed Clackamas' lead to just 29-21.

“We're a small group in numbers and small in general, but we've stuck together ever since youth (football),” said Talalemotu. “I wouldn't want to come on the field with anybody else but these guys.”

TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Beaverton junior defensive tackle Vinny Niosi tackles a Clackamas running back in the Class 6A quarterfinals.

Alas, McGreevy and his big, beefy offensive line were merely too much to stomach down the stretch. With two timeouts remaining and in need of a stop or a takeaway to get the ball back, Beaverton couldn't slow down the 200-pound McGreevy from wearing down the clock or crack a crevice in the Cavalier offensive line. The turnover Beaverton so desperately needed never came as Crawford and his explosive offensive mates were relegated to watching helplessly on the sideline as the season came to a sad, slow end. Clackamas converted three third downs on its critical final drive of the contest and never let Crawford and his penchant for the clutch get a shot at shining. Clackamas ran for 320 of its 353 total yard, 217 of which came from McGreevy.

Yet, as the Beavers listened to an emotional head coach Bob Boyer proclaim how he proud of he was of this particular group and broke their final postgame huddle of the year, Crawford and company couldn't help but positively reflect on another banner year for Beaverton. The senior class with the likes of Joe Hollowell, Jacob Williams, Kenny Ervin, Josh Poppleton, Jackson Platte, Mason Dougall amongst many others who played varsity ball from their sophomore year on, helped put the Beavers back on the state's radar as a unified group that refused to quit and battled until the final buzzer.

“We were a bunch of kids who weren't D1 athletes, who weren't the biggest guys or the fastest guys with a 5-foot-9 quarterback who could go out and compete their butts off,” said Crawford. “I'm so proud to be a part of this team and call every single one of those guys my brother. I'm gonna miss these guys like crazy. It's been one hell of a run. We represented our school and ourselves well.”

“I'm just gonna remember these guys,” said Talalemotu. “I'm not gonna remember any of these scores or these games or the plays. It's about this group of guys, growing up playing with them...it's just something special. There's nothing like this.”

TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Beaverton senior quarterback Carson Crawford tries to shake a Clackmas defender in the Class 6A quarterfinals.

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