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The Tigers are in the driver's seat in the Pacific Conference after a defensive battle

COURTESY PHOTO: JIM TAKAHASHI - Newberg's defense held a talented Sherwood offense in check for much of a low-scoring contest.

In a game coach Kevin Hastin had circled from the beginning of its shortened season, the Newberg High School football team emerged victorious from a matchup with Sherwood 14-9 on Friday. The Tigers' stifling defense held the normally high-scoring Bowmen offense in check, allowing the Newberg offense some leeway against a physical Sherwood side.

With the win, Newberg puts itself in a strong position to capture a Pacific Conference crown in 2021.

"It's huge," Hastin told OSAAtoday's Jerry Ulmer. "We know if you want to win a league title, you've got to be able to beat Sherwood. We've been getting closer and closer to knocking them off over the years. This is a really good Sherwood team, too."COURTESY PHOTO: JIM TAKAHASHI - Both teams played to a scoreless tie at the half before Newberg broke the seal with a touchdown.

The game was scoreless at halftime, with both teams showcasing their physicality and skill on the defensive side of the ball. On the opening drive of the third quarter, NHS sophomore running back Hudson Davis scored a touchdown on fourth and goal at the opposing one-yard line to make it 7-0.

On the kickoff following the touchdown, Tiger senior Connor Croskrey forced a fumble and Newberg recovered, setting up another touchdown drive capped by a stellar 30-yard throw from junior quarterback Levi Durrell to senior wideout Owen Hawley. It was 14-0 Tigers at that point.

Sherwood quarterback Cody Hall returned the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown, making it 14-7 late in the third.COURTESY PHOTO: JIM TAKAHASHI - Junior quarterback Levi Durrell showcased his strong arm with a 30-yard touchdown late in the third quarter, making it 14-0 Tigers.

With less than four minutes to go in the fourth, Newberg had the ball on its own two-yard line, facing a fourth down where it would have to punt from deep in its own end zone. Hastin opted for a safety to give his punter more room to kick and pin the Bowmen deeper in their own territory, a risky move that made it 14-9 but paid off once the Tigers' stout defense got the game-sealing stop.

"We were thinking if we punt it to them, then we're giving them a really short field," Hastin told OSAAtoday. "Our defense was just playing great all night, so the thought was to get a nice kickoff and make them march the field to beat us. We felt like the defense could win the game for us.COURTESY PHOTO: JIM TAKAHASHI - The ground game was key for Newberg in a hard-fought victory over a physical Sherwood team.

"We were just salty up front. Kids were getting off blocks, and we had 11 guys swarming to the ball."

The Tigers (1-0) look ahead to a road matchup at Liberty (0-1) on Friday. The Falcons are fresh off a 42-22 loss to Glencoe in their opener.

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