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After adjusting to Indians' pace, Lions get their offense untracked in second half

PHOTO COURTESY: JOHN BREWINGTON - St. Helens High senior Chris Beatty breaks for the end zone with a reception in the second half of the Sept. 28 game at Scappoose.  The second half of the Sept. 29 St. Helens-Scappoose football game was pretty good for the Lions.

The first half, not so much.

The sum of the two parts, though, was something that can benefit the St. Helens team the rest of the season, Lions coach Cory Young said.

"That's exactly what we needed was to play a really good football team and battle them," Young said after Scappoose's 49-26 victory on its home grass turf.

The first half was mostly a display of Scappoose's ability to run the football behind its big offensive line and with its assortment of ball carriers.

Except, that is, for the first snap from scrimmage.

That produced one of the highlights of the season, no doubt, for the Lions. St. Helens safety Isaiah Bettencourt caught an overthrown pass and made his way to the sideline in front of the Lions' bench, then sprinted the rest of the way untouched for a touchdown return of 45 yards.

The big play gave St. Helens a 7-0 lead just 12 seconds into the game.

"That was exciting," Young said.

Scappoose turned the momentum quickly by returning the kickoff for a touchdown.

"It was an execution thing — we didn't stay in our lanes, and they got a big return," Young said.

And then the Indians capped a wild opening 31 seconds when they recovered their own kickoff at the St. Helens 8-yard-line and scored on the next play.

"It's just a matter of fielding a kick and hanging on to the football, basic Day One, Week One things that we didn't execute," Young said.

All of a sudden, the score was Scappoose 15, St. Helens 7 — and the Lions' offense hadn't even taken the field.

The Indians controlled the rest of the first half to build a 36-7 lead. Scappoose scored touchdowns on run plays of 7, 11 and 29 yards at the end of drives going 20 yards in four plays, 67 yards in eight plays and 68 yards in seven plays.

The Lions, meanwhile, managed only 59 yards rushing on 20 attempts and seven yards passing in the first half.

Scappoose hiked its lead to 42-7 midway through the third quarter, going 67 yards in six plays and getting a 43-yard touchdown run from Connor McNabb.

But St. Helens found it stride after that, and scored three TDs in the final 15 1/2 minutes to outscore the Indians 18-7 the rest of the way and 12-0 in the fourth quarter.

"We talked about some things at halftime, and the kids came out and played with good effort," Young said. "There's no quit in them.

"We put ourselves in a big hole, but they kept fighting and kept scratching."

Two St. Helens touchdowns came on pass plays from senior to senior, from quarterback Leif Nelson to wide receiver Chris Beatty.

Nelson, who came off the bench to play some QB in the second half, first hit Beatty on a 23-yard scoring play with 3:31 remaining in the third quarter. That finished a drive of 65 yards in nine plays and made the score 42-13.

Scappoose got its final score with eight seconds left in the third quarter, after an interception.

St. Helens then drove 60 yards in five plays for another touchdown on another Nelson-to-Beatty pass, this one covering 20 yards. A 17-yard run by Bettencourt preceded the score.

The Lions stopped the Indians on a fourth-and-3 run at the St. Helens 23 with 6:22 left in the game.

St. Helens then went 79 yards in five plays for its final touchdown of the night.

A 17-yard completion from sophomore QB Jakob Robbins to senior wideout Tanner McTeigue set up the score, putting the ball on the Indians' 38.

On the next snap, Bettencourt got through the middle of the Scappoose defense and turned on the jets to get into the end zone with 3:16 to go.

St. Helens' second-half numbers: 92 yards rushing on 18 carries, and 100 yards in the air on 6-for-11 passing.

"Scappoose is a good football team, and we had a lot of miscues in the first half," Young said. "The speed of the game was a lot faster than what we'd seen the last couple weeks, and we had to adjust to that."

The Indians go no-huddle and pound away, and that has taken a toll on all of their opponents this season, even in Scappoose's only loss, 47-27 at home the previous week to Pendleton.

The Tribe (now 4-1 overall and ranked seventh in the 5A coaches poll and eighth in Class 5A by the Oregon School Activities Association) wound up with 310 yards rushing (6.9 per carry) against St. Helens.

"They've got some guys. We that coming in," Young said. "We were still in position a lot of ties to make a tackle. We've just got to make sure we tackle with good leverage and good angle, and get the legs and get them down."

St. Helens slipped to 2-3 overall this season, after victories at home over Milwaukie, 21-13, and Wilson, 42-35.

The Lions' next game is 7 p.m. Friday, back at home and against a Portland Interscholastic League team, Cleveland, that has dropped from 6A to 5A for football and is a fellow member of the new Special District 1 in that sport.

The Warriors are 1-4, with a win last week over Benson, 56-28, and a couple of close losses, including 28-27 to Wilson.

"We just need to get back to work," Young said.

PHOTO COURTESY: JOHN BREWINGTON - Alex Cross of St. Helens upends Scappoose running back Quincy Cleveland after a short gain.

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