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The Pacers have won three games in a row as they look to finish out their season by winning the Columbia Cup championship.

PMG PHOTO: ANDY DIECKHOFF - Lakeridge freshman Marcus Post (23) scores a touchdown during the Pacers' 35-14 win over Oregon City in the Columbia Cup quarterfinals on Friday, Nov. 11, 2022, at Pioneer Memorial Stadium in Oregon City.

The Lakeridge Pacers have moved one step closer to hoisting the inaugural Columbia Cup.

In a battle of Three Rivers League opponents, No. 22 Lakeridge defeated No. 19 Oregon City 35-14 in the quarterfinals of the Columbia Cup tournament on Friday, Nov. 11, at Pioneer Memorial Stadium in Oregon City.

Senior quarterback Ryan Oliver had two rushing touchdowns and threw another to fellow senior Tashi Crofut as the Pacers kept the Pioneers at arm's reach throughout the night.

"It meant everything, man," Crofut said of the win, which will keep him and his fellow classmates on the Lakeridge team playing for at least one more week. "These seniors are so awesome. We've been grinding since November, since the last game of last year."

Lakeridge jumped out to a 14-0 lead after the first quarter when Oliver rushed for his first score and threw a 15-yard strike to Crofut. The Pioneers hit back for a 7-yard rushing touchdown by senior Marcus Jordan in the second quarter, but Oliver's second short touchdown run put the Pacers back up two touchdowns at halftime.

Oregon City opened the scoring in the second half when sophomore quarterback hit senior Ethan Hopwood for a leaping touchdown, but the Pacers answered right back again with a 7-yard rushing touchdown from Ansu Sanoe.

PMG PHOTO: ANDY DIECKHOFF - Lakeridge junior Charlie McPhee (44) celebrates with senior Tashi Crofut (12) following an interception in the Pacers' 35-14 win over Oregon City in the Columbia Cup quarterfinals on Friday, Nov. 11, 2022.

Early in the ensuing drive, Crofut intercepted a Schneider pass at the Oregon City 32-yard line. On the very next play, Oliver hit senior receiver Baylor Corbin in the flat, and then Corbin threw a rocket downfield to freshman Marcus Post, who easily walked it in for a touchdown to make it 35-14 just before the end of the third quarter.

Lakeridge on a late-season roll

The win on Friday was the third in a row for Lakeridge, which started the year with a 2-6 record. Those first two months of football didn't go as planned, but the rivalry game on Oct. 28 against Lake Oswego provided the Pacers a chance to turn around their season.

"Going into the last week, Week 9, against our rivals, it was really a make-or-break point in the season," said Oliver. "It was like, 'we can step up here, or we can roll over.'"

"We decided that we weren't going to roll over," added Oliver. "We're not done yet. We're going to keep going."

PMG PHOTO: ANDY DIECKHOFF - Lakeridge senior quarterback Ryan Oliver (13) pushes forward for the first of his two rushing touchdowns in a 35-14 win over Oregon City in the Columbia Cup quarterfinals on Friday, Nov. 11, 2022.

If the Pacers have been doing any rolling since then, it has been over their opponents.

Lakeridge prevailed 14-9 over Lake Oswego in the Battle of the Lake, their first win in the rivalry since 2013. That victory earned them the right to host in the first round of the Columbia Cup, where the Pacers trounced No. 27 Sandy 40-0 Friday, Nov. 4.

Add in their latest positive performance against Oregon City, and this Lakeridge team is clearly on a roll.

"We started a bit slow, but we're trying to win this Columbia Cup championship," Crofut said.

Freshmen stepping up for Pacers

While the Pacers relied on seniors for their first three touchdowns of the night, both of the touchdowns in the second half came from freshmen. Sanoe and Post are two of the youngest players on the Lakeridge varsity team, but they have made a clear impression early in their Pacer careers.

Sanoe made the All-Three Rivers League second team offense as a running back, while Post received an honorable mention on the all-defense team as a safety. Their touchdowns on Friday night helped seal the win over the Pioneers, as clear an example as any of the impact they are having.

PMG PHOTO: ANDY DIECKHOFF - Lakeridge freshman Ansu Sanoe (1) breaks a tackle during the Pacers' 35-14 win over Oregon City in the Columbia Cup quarterfinals on Friday, Nov. 11, 2022, at Pioneer Memorial Stadium in Oregon City.

READ MORE: 2022 All-Three Rivers League teams named

"It was an amazing feeling," said Post about scoring a touchdown in the playoffs as a freshman. "Not many people get to feel this."

Post added that he is extremely grateful for the opportunity to play on the varsity team, and he hopes to pay it back by helping the team's seniors extend their Lakeridge careers as long as possible.

"That's my driving factor," Post said about playing for the seniors. "They let me be on this team, and they're like family at this point. I've been playing for them this whole playoff run."

Sanoe had a similar perspective on helping keep the season alive for the team's elder statesmen.

"We love these seniors," Sanoe said. "Got more games for them."

Added Sanoe of his first-year experience on varsity: "I'm just learning as much as I can, keep getting better as a player and helping my team keep getting wins like this."

'It's hard to beat a football team twice'

As for his team's performance against the Pacers, Oregon City head coach Shane Hedrick said he was very pleased with how his team battled to the final whistle.

"Absolutely loved it," said the coach of his team's effort. "They just battled the whole time, and that was a very good football team that we played tonight. You've got to give them some credit."

PMG PHOTO: ANDY DIECKHOFF - Oregon City senior Marcus Jordan (with ball) rushed for one of his team's two touchdowns in a 35-14 loss to Lakeridge in the Columbia Cup quarterfinals on Friday, Nov. 11, 2022, at Pioneer Memorial Stadium.

Earlier in the season, Oregon City defeated Lakeridge 29-28 on a late two-point conversion. Hedrick noted that the Oct. 14 result may have had some small bearing on their rematch.

"You ask anyone that's coached a long time — it's hard to beat a football team twice in the same year," explained Hedrick. "It's like wrestling your little brother; you're never going to take him down twice. Our kids played hard, but they had a little better edge than we had."

As the Pioneers' season winds down, the Pacers will continue on in their quest to win the Columbia Cup. The next test for Lakeridge will be a semifinal road trip to square off with No. 18 Westview on Friday, Nov. 18. The kickoff time has not yet been finalized.


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