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Canby's football playoff run comes to an end with a 20-0 loss to two-time defending state champion Thurston

In a game that had "grind it out" written all over it, visiting Thurston would put a stop to Canby's football playoff run with a little offensive burst in the fourth quarter.

The Colts got the better of the Cougars by a 20-0 score in the Class 5A quarterfinals in a match-up whose result was in the balance well into the fourth quarter.

COURTESY PHOTO: SARAH OLIVER - Quarterback Mikey Gibson is upended by a pair of Thurston defenders during their quarterfinal clash on Nov. 12.

"Obviously not the way we wanted the season to end, but I'm very happy with the way our kids battled," coach Jimmy Joyce said. "Thurston is the two-time defending champs and we battled for four quarters and never backed down."

Thurston had come into the game with four shutouts to its credit this season, then added a fifth with this win. It was the first time Canby had been held scoreless all season. Defense, on both sides of the aisle, would shine in this one.

Thurston held a tenuous 3-0 lead early in the fourth quarter, courtesy of a 33-yard field goal in the first period.

But Canby would threaten midway through the final stanza. Quarterback Mikey Gibson hit Cameron Lee on a 30-yard pass play down to the Thurston 14-yard-line, but it was called back by a penalty. A fake punt attempt a play later resulted in a loss of yards and a turnover of possession. The game would turn moments later.

COURTESY PHOTO: SARAH OLIVER - Keenan Brewer (13) matches up against one of the state's best receivers, and an Arizona State commit, Jacob Newell early in Friday's quarterfinal match-up.

On the first offensive play for Thurston after the turnover, the Colts were in the end zone courtesy of a 50-yard pass play. The momentum had swung and it wouldn't swing back toward Canby.

Offensively, the Cougars had some bright spots as all-league running back Tyler Konold battered his way to 136 yards on 25 carries. Quarterback Mikey Gibson struggled to find a rhythm, completing 4-of-13 passes for just 22 yards. Lee would lead the receiving corps with two catches for 18 yards.

Defensively, the Cougars gave as good as they got well into the fourth quarter. Canby held the Thurston offense to less than 100 yards through three quarters and less than 200 for the game.

"An absolutely studly effort," Joyce said of his defense. "We played a little short-handed and had to give guys rest in spots we usually don't want to. I was really impressed with Kennan Brewer, who battled injuries all year and came up big-time when we asked him to guard one of the best players in Oregon.

COURTESY PHOTO: SARAH OLIVER - Canby running back Tyler Konold tries to weave his way through the Thurson defense Friday night.

"Holding an offense like Thurston to under 200 (total) yards is a major accomplishment," Joyce added.

In the end, the Cougar defense just ran out of gas as Thurston put up 17 points in the final half of the fourth quarter to win going away.

"We knew they would make plays, and they did, but we limited them," Joyce said. "Sadly, we just didn't make enough ourselves."

But the loss didn't diminish the effort his team gave and the future they have built for the program.

"I'm Just super proud of our coaches and players," Joyce said. "Three years ago when I got here, some said the program would never rebound. Three years later we are in the state quarterfinals. What these student-athletes have accomplished should be celebrated by everyone in the community. I am so proud of them, and I want to give a special shout-out to these seniors who have weathered a lot of storms. Thank you, and you will be missed, and you have set this program on the right track."

Canby closes out its season with an 8-3 overall record, their best mark since 2009. Joyce sees the future as bright for the program and lauded his senior class for their contributions to what comes next. "We lose a tremendous, deep senior class who have laid a great foundation for what the program has been building towards," Joyce said. "We are excited for what is coming ahead, we return some outstanding juniors who have contributed immensely. We also have a very deep and talented sophomore class and a good group of frosh who will contribute next fall on varsity."

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