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St. Helens earns shot at 5A playoff berth with 41-21 road victory over Forest Grove

PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP PHOTO: JOHN BREWINGTON - Leif Nelson of St. Helens gets across the goal line from the 1-yard line against a crowd of Forest Grove defenders. The Lions won 41-21 Friday night at Forest Grove.FOREST GROVE — It was perhaps their most critical game of the season, and the St. Helens Lions made the most of it with a 41-21 win at Forest Grove on Friday night.

The first half was an exciting affair with scores coming fast and furious.

The Lions led most of the first half, scoring the first 14 points, but the Vikings came back to forge a 21-21 tie.

With 13 seconds left in the second quarter, St. Helens wide receiver Chris Beatty hauled in an easy catch up the middle and romped into the end zone from 44 yards. A reverse pass from Lions quarterback Jakob Robbins to wideout Lane Clift set up the score.

The Lions would never trail again.

St. Helens added one touchdown in each of the final two quarters while the Lions' defense stiffened and kept Forest Grove out of the end zone.

Key sacks from Connor Koelzer and Parker Miller contributed mightily to the win.

A 70-yard run from Isaiah Bettencourt on the Lions' second play from scrimmage started St. Helens' scoring. Bettencourt would play a big role in moving the offense on the ground. Alex Cross would add some critical yards in the second half. Leif Nelson also had two touchdowns on keepers at quarterback.

St. Helens improved to 3-3 in the Class 5A Special District 1 West Division and sewed up third place over Forest Grove, which dropped to 3-3. Overall, the Lions are 4-4, the Vikings 5-3.

St. Helens will be in a league playoff game next week, playing host to the No. 4 East team, Parkrose. The winner will advance to the 16-team OSAA playoffs and a first-round game on Nov. 3.

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