The Lakers battle within 28-21 in the fourth quarter before the Panthers pull away to win

REVIEW PHOTO: MILES VANCE - Lake Oswego's Mario Pronnorongvat (right) hugs teammate Mike Mercep at the end of their team's 49-27 loss to South Medford in the Class 6A state semifinals at Hillsboro Stadium on Friday.The Lake Oswego football team dodged one bullet in its Class 6A state semifinal game on Friday when it battled back from a big deficit and closed within one score in the fourth quarter.

The Lakers dodged another when South Medford ran a kickoff back for a touchdown — only to see it called back on a penalty.

But the Panthers just kept firing and their next shot hit home. They stripped the ball away after a Lake Oswego pass completion, recovered the fumble and took it back for a touchdown that effectively sealed their 49-27 victory at Hillsboro Stadium.

"We've been down before against West Linn and we knew we could come back. We had a lot of fight in us," said junior linebacker Bryson Breeze, the Three Rivers League co-Defensive Player of the Year, who led his team with nine tackles on Friday. "Unfortunately, we just couldn't make it happen. They definitely deserve this win. They came through with the big plays."

"We didn't want to end it on a loss, but it didn't turn out the way we wanted it to," said senior lineman Shawn Elliott, who had four tackles on defense and also helped his team rush for 145 yards. "They're a great team. Today, the ball didn't bounce our way, I guess."

"It just didn't work out the way we wanted it to," said sophomore running back/receiver Casey Filkins, who made nine catches for 101 yards and one touchdown. "But hats off to them. They played a great game."

With the win, the fifth-ranked Southwest Conference champion Panthers won for the 11th straight time, improved to 12-1 overall and advanced to the Class 6A state championship for the first time in school history.

There, South Medford will face second-ranked Mt. Hood Conference champion Clackamas, which won its 12th straight game earlier on Friday when it beat Tigard 52-7 at Hillsboro Stadium. The Cavaliers will also be making their first championship-game appearance. That game is set for 12:30 p.m. Dec. 2 at Reser Stadium in Corvallis.

The top-ranked Lakers, meanwhile, saw their nine-game winning streak snapped and ended their year at 11-2 after earlier winning a share of the Three Rivers League championship.

After a trade of punts to start the game, South Medford put together a 55-yard scoring drive that started with three Jaylin Parnell runs for 28 yards. Then, on second-and-10 from the Lakers' 27-yard line, South Medford quarterback Robbie Patterson hit Parnell on a slant, Parnell broke a tackle and took it 27 yards to score. Jaalen Owens followed with the first of his seven extra points to make it 7-0 with 6 minutes, 56 to go in the first quarter.

The Lakers picked up 45 yards on their next series, but saw senior quarterback Jake Dukart sacked by Evan Dallas on a fourth-and-three play from the Lakers' 45 to end that threat.

On the ensuing series, South Medford put together an 11-play scoring drive that took 3:16 off the clock, included two Patterson completions to Chase Cota for 34 yards and ended when Patterson connected with Owens from nine yards out in the right side of the end zone to make it 14-0 just 2:27 into the second quarter.

After another Laker three-and-out, South Medford scored in just five plays. Patterson hit Josiah Johnson for 18 yards, scrambled for 16 more, saw Trent Snyder run for eight, and then Parnell hammered it home with runs of four and two yards to make it 21-0 with 6:38 remaining in the half.

The Lakers answered with their best drive of the first two periods, marching 80 yards in 15 plays to score, capping that series on a third-and-six play from the nine when Dukart scrambled to the right and hit Filkins at the right post as he fell to the turf with just 41 seconds left in the half.

Highlights along the way included Dukart hitting 6 of 8 passes for 50 yards and four Alex Bassett runs for 23 yards.

But the Lakers couldn't carry that momentum into the second half; instead, they came up empty on their first series of the third quarter and the Panthers immediately boosted their lead to 28-7 when they drove 72 yards to score.

Parnell carried five times for 23 yards on the drive, Patterson picked up 13 yards on two carries, hit Owens twice for 24 yards, and Parnell dove in to score from two yards out with 4:45 to go in the quarter.

Undaunted, the Lakers caught fire then and there. They drove 72 yards to score on their next drive, with Dukart going 5 for 7 for 69 yards — three of those to Jordan Newlin for 34 yards — and Bracken cashing in from five yards to bring his team within 28-14 with 1:13 remaining in the third.

The Lakers' "D" stepped up next, with Breeze making two tackles to help force a Panther three-and-out that gave Lake Oswego possession at their own 37 just seven seconds into the fourth quarter.

The Lakers scored six plays after that, with Dukart hitting Kameron Harvey for 10 yards, hitting Harvey for 17 more on a key fourth-and-11 play, then connecting with Newlin for a 37-yard over-the-shoulder catch at the left flag that brought LO within 28-21 with 10:07 still left to play.

South Medford's Austin Boster took Jake Bazant's ensuing kickoff back 93 yards for an apparent touchdown, but a Panther holding penalty erased that score, and four plays later — including three tackles by Lake Oswego's Sam Haney — South Medford had to punt.

"That was a big-time when we got that penalty," Breeze said. "We were hoping we could change the momentum right there. We weren't going to quit."

The Lakers, energized by two straight scores and back in possession at their own 25-yard line, went to Harvey on the right sideline on first down. Harvey caught the ball seven yards downfield only to see it ripped away by Owens, who scooped it up and ran it in for a back-breaking touchdown that killed the Lakers' momentum and extended the Panther lead to 35-21 with 7:00 left on the clock.

Lake Oswego got no closer than midfield on its next two series, South Medford added a seven-yard Patterson-to-Trent DeBoer TD pass and a 45-yard Patterson touchdown run to make it 49-21 before LO added a 12-yard Dukart-to-Marcus Taylor scoring strike with just four seconds left on the clock.

"They're a good team. We're a good team," said Bracken, who finished with 13 carries for 98 yards and one touchdown. "That's just how it ended."

"That was the difference between us and them — they made big plays," Elliott said. "We didn't make big plays. They made the big plays that paid off and got them the win."

For the game, Dukart went 27 of 48 passing for 275 yards and three scores, with Newlin notching five catches for 83 yards and one score before leaving the game late with an injury.

Defensively, Haney added nine tackles to tie for team-high honors, Mike Merced added eight more, and Thomas Dukart, Bassett and Miles Lewis recorded five each.

For South Medford, Patterson carried 10 times for 90 yards and one score, and Parnell rushed 18 times for 79 yards and two TDs. Patterson hit on 15 of 20 throws for 196 yards and three scores, with Parnell catching four for 61 and Chase Cota three for 49.

Defensively, Dallas and Parnell had seven tackles each, and Johnson and Boster seven apiece.

Contact Sports Editor Miles Vance at 503-330-0127 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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