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The Pacers beat the Lakers 14-9 on Friday, Oct. 28, in a rainy Battle of the Lake that turned into a low-scoring dogfight.

PMG PHOTO: KAELYN CASSIDY - Behind strong play from its offensive line, the Lakeridge High School football team defeated crosstown rival Lake Oswego 14-9 on Friday, Oct. 28, 2022, at Lake Oswego High School.

For the first time since 2013, the Lakeridge football team won the Battle of the Lake.

The Pacers (3-6) defeated Lake Oswego 14-9 on Friday night, Oct. 28, to snap a nine-game losing streak in the crosstown rivalry. Lakeridge quarterback Ryan Oliver threw one touchdown and ran for another in the first half, and the Pacer defense made multiple stops late in the game to secure the victory on their opponents' home turf at Lake Oswego High School.

"That was about as good of football as you can play down the stretch, to hold Lake Oswego on multiple fourth-down stops," said Lakeridge head coach Spencer Phillips. "And then, the one everyone will remember was at the end of the game."

That memorable play came with just seconds left on the clock. Lakeridge defensive lineman Camden Ferguson knocked the ball loose from Lake Oswego quarterback Liam Davis' hands, with the resulting fumble being picked up by Pacer linebacker Charlie McPhee. The turnover allowed Oliver to come out for one final snap in victory formation.

On the Lakers' previous drive, however, the Lakeridge defense nearly broke. Lake Oswego made it all the way to the 4-yard line before being turned back four times in a row, including a big pass deflection by cornerback Baylor Corbin on a potential touchdown pass.

"This year, we started nine new players on defense," said Phillips. "It's taken a while for everyone to gel. Even though we haven't been showing it in the win column, we have been getting better, and this week, it finally all came together."

PMG PHOTO: KAELYN CASIDY - Lakeridge junior defensive back Jake Moleiro (24) chases down Lake Oswego sophomore quarterback Liam Davis (10) during the Pacers' 14-9 win over the Lakers on Friday, Oct. 29, 2022.

Meanwhile, on the Lakeridge offense, Oliver has had this game circled on his calendar for months.

"Having transferred from there, it's a little more personal," said Lakeridge quarterback Ryan Oliver following last week's loss to West Linn. He and his brother, Andrew, changed allegiances from the Lakers to the Pacers before the 2019 fall season. Oliver described the rivalry against the Lakers as a fight among old buddies.

"Those are all of our friends," said Oliver. "We all know each other, so it's a lot of fun each year. It's always circled at the beginning of the year."

His prediction going into the game: "It's going to be a dogfight, but we're going to have fun with it."

Oliver hit the nail on the head. The Battle of the Lake was a low-scoring affair, and it ended with his Pacers dancing on Cobb Field when it was all said and done.

As the rain fell in Lake Oswego, the Pacers drew first blood on the first drive with Oliver's 29-yard touchdown pass to junior receiver Joey Olsen. The teams traded stalled drives after that, until Oliver put Lakeridge up 14-0 with a 1-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. It was part of a big day on the ground for Oliver, who had not been put into much action as a runner this year.

"Our offensive line did a phenomenal job, and we felt like we were able to take some advantages with our quarterback running the ball, which is something we hadn't shown all year," Phillips explained. "We asked some guys to do things they haven't normally done, and my goodness, did they step up."

PMG PHOTO: KAELYN CASSIDY - Lakeridge senior offensive lineman Will Stelk (72) watches as fellow senior Baylor Corbin carries the ball upfield during their team's 14-9 win over Lake Oswego on Friday, Oct. 29, 2022.

On the other end, the stout defensive effort by the Pacers meant that the Lakers could not get anything going on offense until very late in the game.

Lake Oswego finally got on the scoreboard after a 97-yard touchdown pass from sophomore Liam Davis to senior Owen West with just under seven minutes to play to make it 14-7. With just a minute remaining in the game, the Lakers then drove all the way inside the Lakeridge 10-yard line with a chance to tie things up. The Pacer defense stood tall, however, and made the game-clinching stop when Davis' fourth-down pass fell incomplete.

Lakeridge then ran down as much time as possible before taking an intentional safety, a strategic gambit to avoid a potentially catastrophic turnover deep in their own territory. Despite having to give the ball back to Lake Oswego, the Pacers were able to force the late turnover and hold on for the win, their first in the rivalry in nearly a decade.

For Phillips, who is in his third season at Lakeridge — and just his second full year, thanks to the shortened campaign in the spring of 2021 — Friday's win showed him what this rivalry game means within the Lake Oswego community at large.

"I've known about Steve Coury my whole life. Even when I was in high school, everyone knew who Lake Oswego was" said Phillips, giving praise to the longtime Lake Oswego head coach. "It's an honor to coach against him, and for our team to come through and play as hard as they did."

Phillips added: "Being in it now and understanding the rivalry, it's a pretty cool experience. I'm really, really happy that our kids and our community got to experience that."

Besides giving Lakeridge bragging rights for the next calendar year, the win also ensured the Pacers a home game in the postseason. They will be playing in the OSAA's new Columbia Cup, a postseason tournament pitting the No. 17 through No. 32 teams against each other in a 16-team bracket.

"This is actually the best thing for our team," said Phillips, who was not originally a fan of having the bracket split between a championship division and the less prestigious Columbia Cup. Now, though, he sees the potential benefits of a deeper postseason run, even if there is no state title at the end of the rainbow. "We're getting another game to get these guys more confidence and a little momentum going into next year. We're going to play to win every game, and hopefully we have a chance to be in the (Columbia Cup) championship game."

The Pacers drew the No. 22 seed in the bracket and will host No. 27 Sandy (4-5) at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 4, at Lakeridge High School. Meanwhile, Lake Oswego finished as the No. 7 seed following the loss on Friday but retained their spot in the 6A championship bracket. The Lakers will take on No. 10 North Medford (6-3), which makes the trip to Cobb Field at LOHS on Nov. 4 for their first-round game.


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