Clackamas football falls to Central Catholic 14-7
The Clackamas football team had Central Catholic right where it wanted it.
The Cavaliers, hosting the defending Class 6A state champions at Clackamas High School on Saturday, April 3, held the Rams to a scoreless tie in the first half and were still tied in the final minutes of the game.
But there, following a Clackamas fumble midway through the fourth quarter, Central Catholic drove 90 yards to get the game-winning touchdown and beat the Cavaliers 14-7.
"Everyone — all the linemen, receivers, everyone, the whole defense — was all out there balling out. It wasn't what we wanted, but everyone played their hearts out," said Clackamas freshman running back Luke Ash, who carried 31 times for 194 yards and his team's lone touchdown. "The line — (offense and defense) — played their hearts out on both sides of the ball. They did what they needed to do."
"We could have played harder, but I'm proud of our defense for putting it all out there," said sophomore defensive back Keontae Johnson-Gibson, who had one interception and a second takeaway erased by a penalty. "And I'm very proud of our offense, how we did."
The loss snapped Clackamas' two-game winning streak and dropped the Cavaliers' record to 1-1 in Special District 4 and 3-2 overall. Central Catholic, the reigning Class 6A state champions, won for the fifth straight time and improved to 3-0 in Special District 4 and 5-0 overall.
The Rams were led by junior quarterback Luke Johnson, who completed 17 of 21 passes for 175 yards and one touchdown — the game-winner with just 2 minutes, 10 seconds left in the game — along with two interceptions.
Saturday's first half was a scoreless affair that saw the Cavaliers dominate everywhere except on the scoreboard, with Clackamas leading Central Catholic in total yardage (127 to 90) and in time of possession (18 minutes 8 seconds for the Cavaliers to the Rams' 5:47).
The Cavaliers drove as far as the Central Catholic 40-yard line on their first possession, advanced to the Rams' 2 on their next series, missed a 31-yard field goal after that and flamed out at the Central 15-yard line near the end of the half.
On Clackamas' best drive, sophomore Kemeatrous Johnson-Gibson picked off a Johnson pass and returned it to the Rams' 46-yard line. From there, Ash — working behind the offensive line of Hayden Harlan, Levi Toussaint, Conner McCarty, Logan Chastain and Kage Casey — carried the ball on seven of his team's first eight plays (one of those a shuttle pass) and racked up 43 yards, the last of those pushing the ball to the Rams' 2-yard line.
But the Cavaliers self-destructed there, racking up two penalties, losing two yards on the ground, missing on two passes and failing on a field goal try.
On their side of the ledger, the Rams' offense had the ball for less than six minutes in the opening half and managed just 90 yards in total offense.
But the pace picked up in the third quarter, with Central Catholic taking the opening possession of the half and driving 74 yards for the game's first score. Johnson connected on five straight passes for 57 yards on that series and the Rams capped it with a 3-yard touchdown run over right guard by junior Gavin Jackson to take a 7-0 lead with 7:46 remaining in the third quarter.
Undaunted, the Cavaliers responded with an 82-yard scoring drive of their own, with Ash carrying six straight times for 32 yards, senior quarterback Jack Artman hitting senior Nick Kennewell for 13 yards and Ash carrying another three times in a row, including a 19-yard TD sprint around left end to tie the game at 7-7 with 1:33 to go in the period.
The game remained tied for the next 13:23, but the Rams finally took over following a pair of turnovers — an interception by Keontae Johnson-Gibson 7:11 to play in the game and a Clackamas fumble recovered by Rams sophomore Riley Williams on the very next play.
From there, Central drove 90 yards in 10 plays — overcoming another interception by Keontae Johnson-Gibson that was nullified by penalty — to win the game. Johnson completed five straight passes for 43 yards on that series, including the game-winning score when he rolled right and threw back to the left flag to hit junior Stryder Todd-Fields for the game-winning TD with just 2:10 left in the game.
The Cavaliers tried to battle back in the remaining minutes, driving 52 yards to the Rams' 7-yard line in the waning seconds of the game, but Artman's throw to right corner of the end zone was picked off by Central Catholic junior Zach Grisham to essentially end the game with 38 seconds left to play.
"I do believe we're better than that team," Ash said. "I do think we should have beaten them."
For the game, Artman went 5 of 9 passing for 49 yards and one interception, while senior Jaxon Shaw hit on 2 of 4 throws for 22 yards. Kennewell led Clackamas receivers with three catches for 42 yards.
For Central, Johnson went 17 of 21 for 175 yards with one TD and two interceptions. His favorite target was senior Jalen Ridgeway, who made four catches for 70 yards. Junior Ellis Bynum led Rams' rushers with nine carries for 66 yards.
Clackamas closes its 2021 season with a 7 p.m. game on Friday, April 9, at Tigard High School.
See the unofficial game statistics here.
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