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Tigers secure second place in the Pacific Conference and await pairing for playoffs next week

GRAPHIC PHOTO: GARY ALLEN - Junior wide receiver Owen Hawley hauls in a touchdown pass in the first quarter of Newberg's win over Glencoe Friday evening at Loran Douglas Field.

Playing their best football at the right time, the Newberg Tigers could be a team to watch in the 6A postseason.

The Tigers (7-2, 3-1 Pacific Conference) blew the doors off Glencoe 42-0 on Friday at Loran Douglas Field, securing second place in their league and a home game in the first round of the OSAA playoffs.

"It was great to finish our regular season on a high note," NHS coach Kevin Hastin said. "It's great for our seniors and builds momentum going into the playoffs.

"There is always room for improvement, but the mindset has been to get better every week and we've done that. Since the Sherwood loss, we really challenged ourselves to dig deep and improve, and our senior leaders really got us there."

As per usual, Newberg's defense catalyzed its offense, forcing three turnovers and scoring a touchdown of its own. Defenders swarmed to the ball all night, leaving little room for Glencoe to breathe.

The Tiger offense opened the high-scoring outing with a big play, going up 7-0 in the first quarter on a 57-yard pass from sophomore quarterback Levi Durrell to junior wide receiver Owen Hawley. Durrell found Hawley on his left streaking down the sideline and well beyond his trailing defender.GRAPHIC PHOTO: GARY ALLEN - Junior linebacker Conner Crosskey runs back an interception for a touchdown in the second quarter of the Tigers' lopsided win over Glencoe Friday evening in Newberg.

"Glencoe put 10 guys in the box and had single coverage on Owen," Hastin said. "When that happens you've got to be able to beat them and they couldn't stay with Owen."

A few minutes later, Durrell and Hawley connected once more, with the lanky wideout leaping over the defense and hauling in a perfectly thrown ball in the back of the end zone. The 23-yard score made it 14-0 at that point.

"We love the long bombs," Hawley said. "(Durrell) just puts it up and I come down with it. That's what we rep in practice is those one-on-one opportunities to make big plays, and we did that tonight."

It didn't take long for it to become 21-0 Newberg after junior linebacker Conner Croskrey picked off a poorly executed pass from Glencoe on the next drive and ran it back 25 yards for the touchdown.

Running to the sideline after the play, Croskrey was mobbed by teammates in celebration as they joyfully smacked their helmets against his.

Through one quarter, Newberg led by three touchdowns. It got uglier.

Midway through the second quarter, a 44-yard run by sophomore Price Pothier made it 28-0 Tigers. An interception by senior defensive back Dwayne Buck set up another touchdown run, this time by senior Justin Holtan from 12 yards out.

While Glencoe drove deep into opposing territory on its final drive of the first half, a second interception by Buck prevented a score, making it 35-0 Newberg at the break.

Pothier got on the board again in the third quarter, scoring on a five-yard run that was set up by a strong offensive drive. An extra point made it 42-0 Tigers.

Late in the third, the Newberg defense was on its heels near the goal line. A pair of tackles for loss set up a long fourth-down play, where an incompletion created another scoreless drive for Glencoe.

It was a microcosm of how the Tiger defense played all night — one step ahead, even in seemingly adverse situations.

Neither team scored in the fourth quarter with plenty of reserves in the game for both sides. Newberg forced a fumble with less than a minute left, recovered it and took a knee to end the contest.

"We're looking good as a team right now on defense and offense," Hawley said. "I've got to give credit to Coach Hastin for running this team and working all the young kids into the starting rotation.

"Hastin doesn't get enough credit for the work ethic he puts into these guys. It's made the difference."

Completing its regular season at 7-2 — the best record in nearly two decades for this program — No. 13 seed Newberg will host No. 20 South Medford (5-3) on Friday at Loran Douglas Field. Kickoff for the Tigers' playoff opener is set for 7 p.m. and tickets cost $8 for adults and $5 for students.

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