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The Pacers scored on six of their first nine possessions and capitalized on four Oregon City turnovers in Friday's road win

PMG PHOTO: JIM BESEDA - Lakeridge quarterback Cooper Justice (9) eludes Oregon City defensive end Hayden Miller (42) during the third quarter of Friday's 6A Special District 5 game at Pioneer Memorial Stadium.Lakeridge quarterback Cooper Justice and the rest of the Pacers could do little wrong on Friday night.

The Oregon City Pioneers only wish they could say the same.

Justice passed for 228 yards and a touchdown, and rushed for 78 yards and another score, leading the Pacers to a 37-10 Three Rivers League road win Friday over the error-prone Pioneers at Oregon City's Pioneer Memorial Stadium.

Lakeridge running back Jalen John scored on touchdown runs of 42 and 7 yards in the first half and finished with 10 carries for a game-high 123 yards rushing as the Pacers (2-3, 1-2 Three Rivers) spoiled Homecoming for the Pioneers (1-4, 0-3).

The Pacers scored on six of their first nine possessions — one field goal and five touchdowns — and capitalized on four Oregon City turnovers in beating the Pioneers for the second season in a row.

"That felt really good," Justice said. "That was something I think the team really needed, morale-wise. I think the leaders on the team did a good job of trying to keep people in it this week, and it really showed tonight.

"I'm really proud of the guys tonight. They really worked hard it was a good team win."

Oregon City took the opening kickoff and went on a 10-play, 41-yard drive that ended with kicker Christian Ferreyra pushing a 34-yard field goal attempt wide right.

Things started to deteriorate from there for the Pioneers, whose next seven possessions ended with a punt, two consecutive interceptions, a 39-yard Ferreyra field goal that made it 17-3, another interception, another punt, and another interception.

"That was a rough one," Oregon City quarterback Trey Martin said. "We definitely did not play how we were supposed to. I thought we were prepared but, obviously, we weren't ready for this game.

"Give credit to Lakeridge. They definitely were prepared for us and we obviously weren't prepared, but we can grow from this. We just need to get back next week and play harder and better."

Early offense

Lakeridge kicker Ben De Vries connected on a 21-yard field goal at the end of a 10-play, 76-yard drive to give the Pacers a 3-0 lead with 2:31 to play in the first quarter.

After an Oregon City punt, the Pacers went 69 yards in only three plays, finding the end zone when John took the ball around the right end on a 42-yard touchdown run that made it 10-0 with 28 seconds left in the first quarter.

"That was just our offensive line doing a job," said John, the 6-foot, 215-pound senior. "We executed and did what we were supposed to do and that was the result."

Lakeridge's next possession ended with the Pacers turning the ball over on downs at the Oregon City 9-yard line.

A defensive pass interference call on the Pacers took the ball out to the Oregon City 23, and then an offensive pass interference call on the Pioneers set them up with a first-and-20 at their own 13.

That's when Martin, the junior quarterback, tried to throw a lateral to Morpheus "Momo" Nithikhun behind the line of scrimmage on the left side and the ball ended up in hands of Lakeridge defensive back Bryson Corbin, give the Pacers the ball back at the Pioneer 7.

"That one was supposed to be a screen pass," Martin said. "That was completely my fault. It was supposed to be a run-pass option and I should have just took off running. That's on me."

On the next play, John followed the right side of Lakeridge's offensive line into the end zone, extending the lead to 17-0 with 9:51 to play in the first half.

Score, score, score

In the second half, the Pacers scored touchdowns on their first three possessions of the third quarter. Justice scored the first two TDs on runs of 10 and 16 yards, and then Andrew Oliver made his second interception of the game to set the stage for a 6-yard, Justice-to-Carson Mike scoring strike that extended the lead to 37-3 with 3:12 remaining in the third quarter.

On the Oregon City sideline, it was hard to find anybody who wasn't hanging his head at least a little bit, because none of the Pioneers saw this coming.

"It's frustrating because we had a great week of practice, prepared well, the kids were in the right frame of mind, and everything was good," Pioneers coach Dustin Janz said. "We came out and looked like we knew what we were doing right off the bat, and then the moment got too big for us.

"Lakeridge made a couple of plays and our kids reverted to issues that we'd had three months ago — not going what we've been coached to practice, not executing at the level that we would have liked."

At this stage of the season, the Pioneers thought they had smoothed over a lot of the rough edges that had held them back in recent weeks, but that wasn't the case.

"I don't think we've played as well as we can or as fully as a team yet," Oregon City center Zach Zumwalt said. "On every single play, it seems that most people are doing their job, and then maybe a lineman misses a block or a receiver runs the wrong route and those are the things that are slowing us down.

"It's pretty frustrating because I know the potential that this team has and we just aren't playing up to that level. We're working really hard in practice and then come Friday night, we're not playing as well as we can play."

By the numbers

Lakeridge ran 72 offensive plays and finished with 522 yards total offense — 285 yards on the ground and 237 through the air. Oregon City ran 61 plays and had 222 yards offense.

Justice, the 6-foot-6, 230-pound senior, was among the best players on the field for the Pacers. He completed 15 of 22 passes for 228 yards to seven different receivers, but some of his biggest plays came when he couldn't find an open receiver, broke containment, and ran with the ball.

On defense, Lakeridge defensive back Zac Waible was in on a team-high 10 tackles, including one sack, but the game-changing plays were the four interceptions — two by Oliver, one by Corbin, and one by Carter Pahl.

"Going into this game, the game plan was strictly about not worrying about the outcome," Pacers coach Forrest Sherman said. "Obviously, you want to win, but this game was about execution and, 'Are we taking steps in the right direction?' I feel with the way we played, we took steps in the right direction.

"Defensively, we just wanted to be sound in our assignments and not give up big plays. We'd given up big plays in the weeks before, so the big emphasis was, 'Let's just be a little bit better on limiting their big play.' We did that tonight."

Sherman still sees his team as "a work in progress" as the Pacers prepare to hit the road again next week to face Canby (0-5, 0-2).

"We've been good at times, and then we've been a young, inexperienced team at times," Sherman said. "We're still trying to figure out who we are. Are we going to be the team that has learned from our mistakes? And are we at a point where we let our talent take over?

"We're talented enough to play with anybody in the state. But we're also young and inexperienced enough to get beat on any given night if we make too many mistakes and don't take care of business. You can't make mistakes in this league, because if you do, good teams are going to make you pay."

At least the Pacers can say that they've got things pointed in the right direction after Friday night.

"Our main goal this week was to focus on being 1-0 and start the streak now," said John, the senior running back. "We wanted to forget about everything that happened the first four games and look at what was right in front of us right now."

For Oregon City, the challenges don't get as the Pioneers prepare for a home game against top-ranked Tigard (5-0, 2-0).

"It's mental stuff for us," Martin said. "If we can fix the mental stuff, we have a great team. Once we fix the mental stuff and we stop being so hard on ourselves, we'll definitely be a better team."

Said Janz: "We've got to become better football players. We're just not there yet. For whatever reason, what we're doing at practice is just not translating in the games. Lakeridge did a good job making plays, but we did not play well tonight."

LAKERIDGE 10 7 20 0 — 37

OREGON CITY 0 3 0 7 — 10

L — Ben De Vries 21 FG

L — Jalen John 42 run (De Vries kick)

L — John 7 run (De Vries kick)

OC — Christian Ferreyra 39 FG

L — Cooper Justice 10 run (De Vries kick)

L — Justice 16 run (kick failed)

L — Carson Mike 6 pass from Justice (De Vries kick)

OC — Austin Canchola 1 run (Indy Daniel kick)

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