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Tigard falls to Aloha in shootout that isn€sˇÃ„ôt decided until the final seconds

by: DAN BROOD - OUTTA MY WAY -- Tigard senior Kaz Greene (right) looks to get by Aloha's Cooper Nagy in Friday's game.TIGARD — The Tigard and Aloha high school football teams had a lot in common when they clashed Friday night.

Both teams came up with big play after big play.

Both teams fought back gallantly from behind.

Each team seemed to leave everything it had on the field.

The only difference was two points — and a few inches.

Aloha, in a back-and-forth, high-octane thriller that wasn’t decided until a last-second field goal sailed just barely wide left, came away with a 36-34 win over the Tigers in a non-league contest played before a large, loud crowd at Tigard High School.

“That was amazing,” Tigard senior center Matt Franz said after the contest. “It was a great game on both sides and we left it all on the field.”

“It was a heck of a game,” Tigard senior running back/defensive back Zach Floyd said. “I’m so proud of our team.”

Aloha, from the Metro League, improved to 2-0 on the season with the hard-fought victory. Tigard saw its record evened at 1-1 with the nail-biting setback, where the two teams combined for more than 1,000 yards of total offense.

“That was an incredible high school game between two really good teams,” Tigard coach Craig Ruecker said. “I’m extremely proud of our young men.”

Surprisingly, neither high-powered offense was able to score in the first quarter of Friday’s DAN BROOD - ZACH ATTACK -- Tigard senior Zach Floyd (right) is on the run during Friday's game with Aloha.

But Tigard came up with a big play to start the second quarter, as junior defensive end A.J. Hotchkins recovered an Aloha fumble on the Tiger 47-yard line to start the period.

Taking advantage of the turnover, the Tigers marched 53 yards in nine plays, capping off the drive when senior running back Benny Wick scored on a 1-yard touchdown dive. Wick then added the extra-point kick to give the Tigers a 7-0 lead with 8 minutes and 5 seconds left in the second quarter.

Aloha soon answered back, thanks to a big play by its defense.

Warrior junior defensive back Maurice McSwain intercepted a Tiger pass and returned the ball 67 yards to the Tigard 11-yard line.

Two plays later, senior Dominic Johnson scored on a two-yard run to tie the game at 7-7 with 3:19 left in the second quarter.

Tigard quickly answered back before the half ended. The Tigers, behind strong blocking from their offensive line, quickly moved the ball 68 yards in eight plays, getting an 8-yard touchdown run by Floyd with 30.4 seconds left in the period, giving the Tigers a 14-7 lead going into halftime.

But, while it seemed like the late touchdown may have given Tigard momentum going in to the break, it was the Warriors who came out on fire to start the third quarter.

Aloha senior running back Thomas Tyner started the Warriors’ big-play parade with a 74-yard touchdown run, which tied the game at 14-14 before a minute elapsed in the period. The next time the Warriors had the ball, Tyner scored on a 73-yard scamper to give Aloha its first lead of the game, at 21-14, with 8:37 left in the DAN BROOD - TIGER BALL - Tigard High School senior lineman Blake Chamberlain puts his arms in the air after Tiger junior defensive end A.J. Hotchkins recovered an Aloha fumble in Friday's contest.

On Aloha’s very next offensive play from scrimmage, senior quarterback C.J. Eytel hooked up with McSwain for an 80-yard touchdown on a play-action pass to give Aloha a 28-14 lead with 6:43 left in the third quarter.

Tigard answered with a big play of its own, as senior running back Kaz Greene, zigzagging across the field, scored on a 70-yard run to trim the lead to 28-21 with 5:51 still remaining in the period.

But Tyner then capped off Aloha’s big third quarter with a 45-yard scoring run on the final play of the period. Then, following a Tigard penalty, Tyner ran in the two-point conversion to give the Warriors a 36-21 lead going into the fourth quarter.

In the third quarter alone, Aloha had four touchdowns and 329 yards of offense. Tyner ran for 247 yards on 11 carries in the period.

But it was Tigard’s turn to step on the accelerator in the fourth quarter.

A 27-yard run by Floyd helped set up a 41-yard touchdown run by Greene, which cut the Aloha lead to 36-27 with 10:26 left in the contest.

After getting a stop on defense, Tigard quickly struck again, as Floyd scored on a 33-yard run to trim the Aloha lead to 36-34 with 6:41 remaining in the game.

Tigard, after stepping up and getting another stop on defense, took over on its own 18-yard line with 4:46 left to play.

The Tigers, with momentum now on their side, started marching the ball upfield. Junior quarterback Jett Even fired a 13-yard, third-down pass to senior tight end Conner Olsen to give Tigard a first down at its own 40-yard line.

A few plays later, facing third-and-15 from the Aloha 36-yard line, Even through a 28-yard pass to Greene, who made a leaping catch, giving Tigard the ball at the Aloha 8-yard line with 14.1 seconds left in the game.

Following an incomplete pass, Tigard lined up for a potential go-ahead, 25-yard field goal attempt. But Wick’s kick sailed just barely wide left with 5.1 seconds remaining.

“We were just a field goal away,” Floyd said. “But it’s not Benny’s fault. I’m proud of him — I’m proud of the whole team. I have mad respect for Aloha. I’ve been waiting for this game for six years. It was a great game.”

“I’m so proud of how our young men responded tonight,” Ruecker said. “(Aloha) made some big plays in the third quarter. We had the opportunity to fold, but we came storming back. That was the biggest thing of the night.”

Tyner had a spectacular night for the Warriors, rushing for 381 yards on 30 carries. But Tigard, as a team, matched him — and then some.

The Tigers, getting strong blocking from Franz, guards Cain Adams and Blake Chamberlain, tackles Ethan Lange and Janak Ward and tight ends Olsen and Jake Biglow, rushed for 440 yards on 50 carries.

“We were fighting out there,” Franz said. “We were gassed, but we kept strong and pumped.”

Floyd led the Tiger rushing attack with 251 yards on 29 carries.

“I was hurting, but I told myself ‘I will not quit,’” he said. “I asked God for strength.”

Greene added 139 rushing yards on seven carries and Wick had 56 yards on 12 carries.

Even completed eight of 20 pass attempts for 105 yards. Senior Chance Taylor was Tigard’s top receiver with three catches for 45 yards. Tigard, as a team, had 545 yards of total offense.

For the Tigard defense, Wick had a sliding, one-handed interception. Lange, Biglow, Adams and Floyd each had a tackle for a loss.

The Tigers will be back in action Friday when they travel to Hare Field in Hillsboro to meet Glencoe in a Pacific Conference opener set to start at 7 p.m.

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