Mountainside football bounced in 6A playoffs by Central Catholic
Down 10-3 after the first quarter but driving into Central Catholic territory, Mountainside High football looked to keep hanging with the undefeated and defending Class 6A champion Rams.
However, the stifling Rams defense turned up the volume and picked up an interception on fourth down and turned the momentum of the game.
After the Mavericks scored a field goal on the opening drive of the game, the Rams scored 48 unanswered and eventually took the 48-17 victory in the second round of the Class 6A state playoffs Friday, Nov. 12, at Hillsboro Stadium.
"They're an undefeated team for a reason, they're very well coached and they have skill guys all over the field," Mountainside coach John Mannion said. "We at times did some good things, but it's hard to withstand their onslaught. But I was proud as heck of our team. … We've given a valiant effort all year and we did it again tonight."
Central Catholic responded quickly on offense following the Mavericks' opening drive field goal with a 2-yard TD run by Ellis Bynum to put the Rams up 7-3.
A field goal later in the quarter made it 10-3 Rams, but the CC offense wasn't in its normal domination mode.
But what got them jump-started wasn't a play on offense, but rather a pick by Zach Grisham in the second quarter.
Following the pick, the Rams scored on their next six consecutive drives, one field goal and five touchdowns, to put the game out of reach quickly going up 34-3 at halftime and scoring two more touchdowns in the second half to force a running clock.
"Their linebackers are really good, they float hard, I think that was an obstacle we had to try and face," Mavericks senior Caleb Paler said. "I think we started getting it going late third quarter, but we ran out of time."
Following the Grisham interception on Brian Mannion in the second quarter, the Rams offense got to work quickly.
Bynum rattled off a 70-yard TD run for his second score of the game to make it 17-3 Rams.
Another Rams field goal made it 20-3 when Grisham picked up a second interception that led to another CC touchdown three plays later on a couple big passes from Cru Newman to Jordan King, finished off by a 1-yard Newman rush.
The Rams got the ball one more time before halftime and scored in two plays, the second being a 22-yard touchdown run for Bynum to go up 34-3 at the break.
Newman hit King on three consecutive plays to open the third quarter, the third pass a 28-yard TD to induce the running clock at 41-3. King finished with six catches for 107 yards and the TD while Newman went 12 for 16 passing for 228 yards and one TD, plus 44 yards rushing and one score.
Rams senior Jacob Hardeman scored a 4-yard rushing TD on the following Rams possession to make it 48-3.
Mountainside QB Brian Mannion hit Matthew Pimentel for a 14-yard TD pass and converted a 2-point attempt to make it 48-11. Mavericks running back Aaroney Simpson scored on the final play of the game to make it 48-17.
Paler finished with 101 yards on the ground on 24 carries while Mannion was 11 for 24 for 93 yards and one touchdown with two interceptions.
Despite the elimination from the playoffs, John Mannion isn't dropping his head after the season his Mavericks squad pulled off.
After starting the year 0-3, the Mavericks won four of their next five, the only loss coming via forfeit, to finish the regular season 5-4 and make the playoffs.
In the first round, Mountainside went on the road and upset No. 13 Sprague 13-7.
"At the end of the day, our team started the season 0-3 and then we won six out of seven games against good opponents and won a playoff game on the road last week," John Mannion said. "They should be incredibly proud of what they achieved as a team. Most teams that start 0-3 go the other way and these guys did not for a second."
That third loss came against Tigard, after which the Mavericks got together as a team and decided that something had to change.
"I think it really changed when we started laying it out every play," Paler said. "After our loss to Tigard, we had a meeting and we were just like, 'We need to put more aggression into this.' I think that's what we started doing."
Up next for the Rams is a matchup against No. 21 Sherwood, the team Mountainside beat to begin its turnaround season.
While the Mavericks season ends, John Mannion said it's been one of the most memorable he's been a part of in his 32 years of coaching. And while it may be sad to see his seniors leave, he's excited to see the program grow.
"I told the team, when something's important to you in life and it ends, it's sad," John Mannion said. "They have invested themselves in Mountainside football, and I believe our program has achieved a great deal in five years. These guys carried on that legacy that was set by the group ahead of them, they embraced it and they had a great run."
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