TUALATIN — The Timberwolves had to deal with a fired-up Canby squad last Friday night. And, after a bit of a sloppy first half, Tualatin dealt with it just fine.
The Wolves fought off a strong effort by the Cougars to power their way to a 62-33 victory in a Three Rivers League game played in front of a homecoming crowd at Tualatin High School.
With the win, Tualatin, which came into the contest ranked No. 2 in the latest Class 6A coaches poll, improved to 3-0 in the Three Rivers League and to 5-0 on the season.
Canby moved to 0-2 in league play, and to 0-5 overall.
"I thought we did good. Our team fought hard," said Canby sophomore Michael Gibson, who made his first start of the season at quarterback. "We need to build, keep grinding, and keep getting better throughout the rest of the season."
Gibson completed 16 of 25 pass attempts for 213 yards and four touchdowns.
"It's all my teammates," Gibson said. "There's a lot I need to work on, but I thought it went pretty well. I had a lot of nerves."
Two of Gibson's touchdown passes went to Canby senior Jackson Linman.
"This is one of the best teams in the state, and we're happy with how we played," Linman said. "We're going to keep pushing, have a great week of practice and see what happens. We all love it."
Tualatin got off to a fast start to Friday's game. The Wolves, in the first possession of the game, quickly moved 70 yards in five plays, capping off the drive with a 31-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Blake Jackson to senior receiver Cade McCarty. A 2-point conversion pass from Jackson to John Miller made the score 8-0 with 10 minutes and 23 seconds left to play in the first quarter.
The next time the Wolves had the ball, senior Kainoa Sayre scored on a 17-yard run, upping the Tualatin lead to 15-0 with 5:15 left in the opening period.
Canby, in its ensuing possession, moved the ball to the Tualatin 1-yard line, where the Cougars had first-and-goal. But they couldn't convert. Facing fourth-and-goal from the Timberwolf 1-yard-line, Canby fumbled, with Miller recovering the ball.
But, undaunted, the Cougars came right back — behind three big plays in a row.
First, Canby junior Chance Miller sacked Jackson for an 8-yard loss. Cougar junior Nicholas Vandecoevering then intercepted a Tualatin pass, and returned the ball to the Tualatin 29-yard line. On the next play, Gibson hooked up with Miller for a touchdown pass, trimming the Timberwolf lead to 15-7 with 11:03 left to play in the second quarter.
Tualatin answered right back. A 25-yard pass from Jackson to sophomore Malik Ross set up a 2-yard touchdown blast by Sayre, which pushed the margin to 22-7 with 8:34 remaining before halftime.
The teams traded big plays after that. For Canby, a 16-yard pass from Gibson to senior Ronan Gay, coming on a fourth-and-15 play, set up Gibson's 17-yard touchdown pass to Linman.
Tualatin came back with a 36-yard touchdown pass from sophomore Jackson Jones to Miller, leaving the Timberwolves with a 28-13 halftime lead.
Tualatin then came out strong to start the third quarter, getting into the end zone on its first two possessions to increase its lead to 41-13 with 4:19 left in the period.
Canby struck back in a hurry. Gibson connected with Chance Miller down the left sideline for a 54-yard touchdown pass to get within 41-19 with 3:01 left in the third quarter.
But Tualatin answered back with a big play of its own. On the final snap of the period, Jackson threw a quick pass to McCarty in the flat. McCarty quickly cut to his right, and sprinted 85 yards for a touchdown, which upped the home team's lead to 48-19 going into the fourth quarter.
Each team got a pair of touchdowns in the final stanza. Tualatin got a 23-yard scoring run by Ross and a 30-yard touchdown run by sophomore Ethan Mendoza.
Canby got a 22-yard touchdown pass from Gibson to Linman, and an 18-yard touchdown run by junior Zackary Markell, making the final score 62-33.
Chance Miller had nine catches for 136 yards and two touchdowns. Linman had three catches for 48 yards and two touchdowns.
"He finds us," Linman said of Gibson. "He looks up and finds the receivers down the field."
Senior Wyatt Ramos ran for 43 yards on 11 carries for the Cougars. Gibson ran for 30 yards.
For the Canby defense, Vandecoevering and junior Jackson Valdrow each had an interception. Miller and senior Kole Schaffner each had a quarterback sack. Senior Logan Doman and junior Rylan Wymer each had a tackle for a loss.
"We came out fighting really hard, but they just kept pounding," Linman said. "Their run game really got us, but we came out and fought, and we're really happy with how we played."
Canby hosts Lakeridge (2-3) this Friday for homecoming.
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