Putnam rises to challenge, takes down rival Milwaukie, 14-7
The Putnam Kingsmen were a little fired up for Friday night's final Northwest Oregon Conference football game against the Milwaukie Mustangs.
Not only were the Kingsmen facing their crosstown rivals, but it also was Senior Night, plus it was Homecoming, and this was a game Putnam had to win to have any chance at advancing to the OSAA Class 5A state playoffs.
And even if the Kingsmen won, there was no guarantee that there would be a playoff berth wating for them at the end of the night.
So how did Putnam respond?
Curtis Hoyle and Isaiah Schumacher scored rushing touchdowns 15 seconds apart in the second quarter and Putnam's defense held Milwaukie off the scoreboard until the final two minutes as the Kingsmen pulled out a 14-7 NWOC victory at Putnam's Foelker Field.
The Kingsmen's win, coupled with Wilsonville's 44-20 win over La Salle Prep, left La Salle, Milwaukie and Putnam in a three-way tie for third place, all at 4-3.
The bad news was that one of the three would be forced to miss the playoffs and the deciding factor in the tie-breaking formula came down to the final OSAA power rankings.
Going into Friday's games, Milwaukie was No. 15, La Salle was No. 19, and Putnam was No. 20. After Friday's results were tabulated, La Salle moved up to No. 16, Milwaukie slipped to No. 19, and Putnam held steady at No. 20, meaing La Salle and Milwaukie still have some football to play.
Obviously, the stars didn't align as well as Putnam would have liked on an event-filled night that saw the Kingsmen play one of their best games of the season.
"That was an amazing game," Putnam coach Tim Jacobs said moments after the game and before hearing what the final verdict regarding the power rankings. "That was just a good old-fashioned, smash-mouth football game -- Milwaukie with its jumbo-I formation and us in the wing-T -- and thankfully the Kingsmen came out on top."
The Mustangs walked off the field dejected, kicking themselves for the loss, and at the same time thinking that they had just fumbled away a chance to go to the playoffs for the first time since 2005.
"We said we had to win tonight to be in," Milwaukie coach Jon Wolf said. "Now, all we have to do is wait and hope.
"Our kids played hard. They came back in the second half and it was a helluva a game. We knew it would be. Putnam is a well-coached team and they got us, but we still had a chance in the end."
After a scoreless first quarter, Putnam went on a seven-play, 88-yard scoring drive that ended with Hoyle following his left tackle into the end zone from 3 yards out with 7:09 to play in the second quarter.
The drive was aided by three 15-yard penalties on the Mustangs – one for unsportsmanlike conduct, one for facemasking, and one for pass interference that set the Kingsmen up with a first-and-10 at the Milwaukie 21.
After the touchdown, the Mustangs got the ball back at their own 20. On first down, tailback Jacob Sanders fumbled a handoff from quarterback Grey Andreasen-VanOtten and defensive end Justin Bean recovered for Putnam at the Milwaukie 16.
On the very next play, the Kingsmen ran a sweep right with Shumacher, who got a nice downfield block from wide receiver Sam Sholty as he powered his way into the end zone to make it 14-0 with 6:54 to play in the half.
Milwaukie had one drive stall at the Putnam 6 in the final minute of the first half, and then had another snuffed out at the Kingsmen 19 by a fumble with 5:56 to play in the fourth quarter.
The Mustangs finally scored on an eight-play, 70-yard drive, capped by Andreasen-VanOtten's 13-yard touchdown pass to Noah Ramirez with 1:36 to play in the game.
Milwaukie tried an onside kick, but Hoyle fielded the kick for Putnam and downed it has the Kingsmen 48 to effectively seal the decision.
"A rivalry game, Homecoming … you can't ask for anything better than that," said Shumacher, who finished with five carries for 20 yards. "I knew it was going to be a close one. My team did their best and we got the 'W.' We just played our hearts out."
Ramirez, Milwaukie's senior fullback and co-captain, said the Mustangs came out flat and never recovered.
"We wanted it, but we weren't ready for it," Ramirez said. "Coming off the Wilsonville game (a 49-0 loss the week before), I feel we may have underestimated Putnam a little bit. The second half, we played well, but the first half, we weren't ready. I just feel we all could have done a better job."
Chazz Amundson led Milwaukie's ground game with 20 carries for 126 yards, and Ramirez added nine carries for 68 yards, but there wasn't much else for the Mustangs to hold up as highlights against a Putnam defense anchored by Lucas Gardner, Colby Grace, Giovani Hernandez and Shumacher.
"We basically had 10 in the box every play, because we needed to with Milwaukie running backs," Jacobs said. "Amundson and Ramirez are studs. They're big, they're physical and they don't go down with the first hit, so we knew that we had to pack the box and attack them from a few different directions to try and slow down the run game.
"I credit the kids. The way they practiced this week and prepared, we really felt that if they took that into tonight, we were going to play a pretty crisp, clean game. It was Senior Night, Homecoming, their crosstown rivals, and a must-win game, and they understood what the game was about and they played to win."
After the final power rankings we tabulated, Milwaukie drew a first-round match-up against top-ranked Mountain View (9-0) Friday in Bend, while La Salle Prep, in the playoffs for the first time since making the jump to 5A in 2014, is scheduled to play on the road Friday against No. 3 Hermiston (7-2).