Lakeridge makes its first quarterfinal appearance since 1998

by: VERN UYETAKE - Joe Sindlinger hauls in a one-handed catch during Lakeridge's 28-20 victory over Southridge on Friday which propelled Lakeridge into the quarterfinals. The Lakeridge football program has been on a long quest to return to prominence in the state. It's safe to say that the Pacers are officially there after knocking off Southridge 28-20 and earning the school's first trip to the quarterfinals since 1998.

The Pacers handled the big and physical Skyhawks on Friday, a type of team that has given them fits in recent years. Lakeridge used yet another second-half surge to seal the win, getting key plays on both sides of the ball at opportune times.

“You have to have confidence each week. The kids are seeing the results from the extreme amount of work they put in during the offseason,” said offensive coordinator Chad Carlson.

Lakeridge made its intentions known early on. For the second game in a row, the Pacers opted to go for it on fourth down in their own territory in the opening minutes of the contest and converted.

“We knew we had to keep them on their heels and come at them with the right formations,” Carlson said.

This time it set up a 42-yard scamper by quarterback Eric Dungey to give Lakeridge the lead and a huge early boost.

Southridge responded with an impressive drive, pounding the ball behind its large offensive line and punching in a tying first-quarter touchdown.

Lakeridge played smart and somewhat conservatively in the game, opting to run the ball often on a cold and wet night in Beaverton.

“Any time you make a run like this you have to be playing great defense and you have to be effective running the ball,” Carlson said.

The Skyhawks' defense kept the Pacers off the board for the rest of the half and controlled the line of scrimmage, moving the ball well.

However, Lakeridge was able to avoid big plays and dug in once Southridge reached the red zone and the Skyhawks had to settle for two field goals to lead 13-7 at the break.

Lakeridge would regain momentum early in the third quarter when Dungey hit Holden Catlett on a screen pass and Catlett would take it 42 yards for a score behind terrific downfield blocking.

“I think our line and the way our receivers blocked was a big factor in the game,” Carlson said.

The Pacers played terrific defense in the second half again but one of its few mistakes of the game cost them later in the third quarter.

After a stop, Lakeridge fumbled in its own territory and Southridge capitalized for a touchdown to take a 20-14 lead.

However, the Pacers would respond with perhaps their best drive of the day, methodically moving down the field, ending with a one-yard touchdown burst by Lopeti Aisea.

Aisea had 75 yards on 12 carries while Dungey finished the game with 107 on 22 carries. He was also efficient in the passing game, completing 12 of 20 passes for 168 yards.

Lakeridge held a slim lead heading into the fourth quarter and then took advantage of a Southridge fumble to get the ball back.

Lakeridge would take control of the game on a fake punt in the fourth quarter with Jacob Tipton completing a 25-yard pass to JR McLaughlin.

Dungey finished off the drive with a three-yard keeper, making it 28-20 with 8:16 to play in the game.

Southridge had two more chances for the tying score. On the Skyhawks' next drive, the team drove into the Lakeridge red zone before coming up short on fourth down.

Southridge got the ball back once more and reached Pacer territory before turning the ball over on downs with less than two minutes to play.

Lakeridge now gears up for a showdown with No. 1 Jesuit on the road on Friday. The Crusaders eked out a win over Lake Oswego on Friday and are built similarly to Southridge with a power running attack and big offensive line.

“Jesuit will try to impose its will. They're big and fast and are a very well-coached team,” Carlson said.

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