The No. 6-ranked Tigers come up with two touchdowns in the final five minutes to advance

PAMPLIN MEDIA: DAVID BALL - Tigard running back Spencer Smith slips between a crowd of Barlow tacklers in the first half. His 27-yard touchdown run would supply the Tigers the winning points with 2:05 to play.

First-round playoffs

Team Score
#6 Tigard (8-2)
Barlow (5-5)

TIGARD — Barlow came out swinging in the first round of the 6A football playoffs Friday night, landing a couple of early haymakers against Tigard in a game that wouldn't be decided until a final throw to the end zone that allowed the No. 6-ranked Tigers to escape 42-35.

The Bruins' defense forced a fumble and made a fourth-down stop — both turnovers that led to Barlow touchdowns — putting the visitors on top 14-0 less than five minutes into the game after tight end Dominic Jacoby made a catch down the sideline and stretched the ball over the goal line for a touchdown.

A short run through the middle would keep the Bruins in front by two scores midway through the second quarter.

But Tigard came up big on 4th-and-9 and pulled even before halftime when rookie QB Drew Carter swung a pass into the flat for Nick Heinke. He was contacted well short of the first-down marker, but spun off the tackle and zipped down the sideline to complete the 18-yard scoring play, sending the teams to the locker room knotted up 21-21.

Barlow put the ball on the turf on its first play of the second half, and Tigard linebacker Jake Leavitt was quick to recover. Two plays later, Max Lenzy went 13 yards around the right side to give the Tigers their first lead.

Barlow would pull even by the end of the third quarter and regain the lead early in the fourth.

Tigard responded with its most pressure-packed drive of the night — an 11-play, 78-yard march to the end zone.

Barlow nearly killed the drive with Tigard facing 4th-and-2 from the Bruins' 36. Tigard gave the ball to 202-pound fullback Carter Dennis, and he crashed through the pile for a 3-yard gain.

Three plays later, the Tigers were facing 3rd-and-6 when Carter fired a short ball into the flat for Leavitt, who got loose down the sideline for a 29-yard touchdown to tie the game at 35 as the clock moved under five minutes.

A holding penalty against the Bruins, and a sack by Tigard's Laytan Tanuvasa forced the Bruins to punt the ball out of their own end zone. A low snap added to their troubles, and Tigard took over at Barlow's 29-yard line with 2:58 to play.

The Tigers took the field in the wildcat position, putting running back Spencer Smith into the shotgun formation. His first run was stopped for a short gain into the middle. He would take his next carry 27 yards around the left side for the winning touchdown with 2:05 to play.

Barlow wasn't ready to get on the bus.

Instead, sophomore QB Jaren Hunter led the team's two-minute drill, converting a pair of fourth downs to push the ball onto Tigard's side of the field.

The Tigers' defense answered the challenge when Iulius Costa broke through for a sack that not only dropped the Bruins back 5 yards, but also kept the clock rolling. Hunter rushed to the line and spiked the ball with 0:23 to play.

"I just knew we had to win this game, so I went full speed, and came up with the biggest play of my life," Costa said. "They had to give up a down spiking the ball, and that was one less chance they had to score."

The Bruins would get two more plays.

The first was an incompletion over the middle, setting up 4th-and-15 with 0:14 to play. Barlow had no choice but to go deep.

Hunter dropped back and had time, letting loose with a clean pass down the visitor's sideline. Barlow's Cole Edmondson raced for the pylon reaching his arms out in front, while Tigard's Hunter Gilbert followed him in coverage. Hunter's pass dropped over Edmondson's outside shoulder, but came down just inches out of his reach.

Tigard took a kneel down, breathed a sigh of relief and will prepare to host cross-town rival Tualatin in next Friday's second round.

View photos from the game at

Look for expanded coverage ahead in the print editions of the Tigard Times and Gresham Outlook.

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