Lakers beat Pacers 35-21 to win 'Battle of the Lake'
Forget the pandemic.
Forget the fact that we're playing football in April.
When it's time for the Battle of the Lake — the annual matchup between the Lake Oswego and Lakeridge football teams — it's game on no matter what.
And this year's battle — played following an interim of 497 days since the teams met in the 2019 Class 6A state quarterfinals — lived up to the hype.
The Pacers scored first and still led partway through the third quarter before the Lakers pulled away to win 35-21 at Lake Oswego High School.
"Our team is very versatile. We have many players who can make many big (plays)," said Lake Oswego junior running back Gabe Olvera, who rushed 17 times for 126 yards and two touchdowns, and also caught five passes for 101 yards and another score. "Everyone did their job tonight. It was just a great team effort."
"That's what football is about," said Lake Oswego junior quarterback Jack Layne, who went 15 of 24 passing for 224 yards with two TDs and no interceptions. "That's what it's about over here. I mean, we circle this game every year on the calendar and it just makes it that much sweeter when you come out on top."
With the win, the Lakers — who missed their first two games of the pandemic-shortened 2021 season due to a COVID-19 outbreak at the school — improved to 2-1 in the Three Rivers League and 2-1 overall. Lakeridge, meanwhile, lost for the third time in four weeks and fell to 2-3 in both TRL play and overall.
The Pacers, who fumbled the ball five times and lost two of those to LO, knew those miscues had hurt their chances at victory.
"We knew the turnover battle was gonna be big going into the game and we had to take care of the ball," said Lakeridge junior quarterback Ryan Oliver, who went 14 of 27 passing for 233 yards and three TDs with no interceptions. "I know personally I didn't do a good enough job of protecting the ball and there were just missed opportunities all over the board that could have resulted in a lot of big plays."
"The end result wasn't what we wanted, but we came out here and battled," said Pacer freshman wide receiver Joey Olsen, who made seven catches for 175 yards and three touchdowns. "I think we've just got to come together as a team more."
After a slow offensive start by both teams, the Pacers got on the scoreboard first when Oliver hit Olsen over the middle for a one-handed catch that he turned into a 16-yard TD and a 7-0 lead with 10 minutes, 14 seconds to go in the second quarter.
The Lakers answered with back-to-back scores, the first of those a Layne completion to Olvera on the left sideline that Olvera turned into a 61-yard scoring sprint.
Then, after a pair of stops, the Lakers got the first turnover of the game when senior linebacker Geordie McNeill forced a fumble by Pacer senior Andrew Oliver that was recovered by LO senior Zach Mahan at the Lakeridge 30-yard line. Three plays later, Mahan bashed up the middle for a 10-yard TD run and — after a missed PAT — a 13-7 lead.
Undaunted, the Pacers pushed back in front just a minute later when Ryan Oliver threw over the middle to Olsen, who tipped the ball away from an LO defender, kept his feet as the defender fell to the turf and raced 53 yards to score for a 14-13 lead with just 2:37 to go before the half.
The Lakers made the most of their final series of the half, though, driving 80 yards in 2:32 to score again, with Olvera ripping off 31 yards on one run while Layne went 3 for 3, including a 15-yard scoring strike to junior wide receiver (and brother) Dylan Layne with no time remaining on the clock. Along with junior Thomas Rainey's PAT, the Lakers led 20-14 at the half.
The Pacers kept coming in the third quarter, though, getting a stop to open the half, then scoring in just two plays, the capper a 47-yard TD pass from Ryan OIiver to Olsen on the right sideline that gave Lakeridge a 21-20 edge with 7:49 to go in the third.
LO answered on the ensuing possession, driving 76 yards in nine plays, with Olvera scoring on a 31-yard run out of the wildcat formation that — along with a Jack Layne conversion pass to senior Hayden Kavanaugh — gave LO a 28-21 lead it would not relinquish.
The Lakers stopped the Pacers' next drive at the LO 3-yard line, then put the game away two series later. Laker senior Garrett Roach kicked things off there when he recovered a Lakeridge fumble and Olvera followed with his third TD of the game, a 10-yard run that gave the Lakers a 35-21 edge with 3:59 to go.
"Those turnovers were vital," Olvera said. "Oh my god, that saved us. I think that just started our comeback right there."
"That's just football," Ryan Oliver said. "We're gonna roll with it, and it's on to the next (game) now. Experience is a big thing, obviously. Just knowing we can hang with everyone — it's all a mindset."
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