Tigard leaves Timberwolves in the dark
TUALATIN — At around 8 p.m., Jake Leavitt stood in the dark on the football field at Tigard High School.
"This is the weirdest Tualatin game ever," Leavitt, a senior running back/linebacker on the Tiger football team said at that time.
Well, about three hours later, Leavitt was under the bright lights, standing on the football field at Tualatin High School. And he had a big smile on his face.
"This was one of the most fun games I've every had playing football," Leavitt said at that time.
And, likely one of the craziest, and most unlikely.
In a game that started at Tigard High School, and following a power outage, finished up at Tualatin High School, the Tigers scored a 28-6 win over the rival Timberwolves on Friday in a Three Rivers League football finale.
"That was such a weird game. It was definitely something different," Tigard senior lineman Burke Albaugh said. "We had to move the game here."
"If anything, it motivated us," Leavitt said. "We wanted to beat them on their home turf."
With the win, Tigard finished the regular season with a 6-1 record in TRL games (7-2 overall), putting the Tigers in a tie with Lake Oswego (who Tigard defeated 31-28 earlier in the season) for first place in the final league standings.
"This was a really big win for us," Albaugh said. "With the title, and the rankings and everything. And we knew that Tualatin was a good team. We took them seriously."
"We really wanted to win this game and play good football," said Tigard senior defensive back Micah O'Donnell, who had a fourth-quarter interception to help seal the win. "We played hard."
With the setback, Tualatin moved to 4-3 in TRL games (6-3 overall), putting the Timberwolves in fourth place in the final league standings.
"It was tough to go from Tigard over here to Tualatin," said Tualatin senior Chris Freese, who had an interception to help set up the Wolves' only touchdown of the contest. "I don't know if something like that has ever happened before."
The game started off simply enough, over at Tigard High School, with both defenses playing strong.
The Tigers hit the first big play of the game, with freshman quarterback Drew Carter connecting with senior receiver Jakob Harrold on a 45-yard pass play that moved the ball inside the Tualatin 1-yard line.
But, just went the officials were ready to spot the ball for play, it happened. More specifically, it went dark.
All the lights at Tigard High School went out. And, it certainly appeared that the unexpected power outage hit the entire local Tigard area.
After a little less than an hour of waiting in the dark at Tigard High School, the decision was made to move the contest over to neighboring Tualatin High School.
"On the bus ride over here (to Tualatin), we were singing songs," Albaugh said with a smile. "That kept our morale up. And we really focused on the game. We really wanted to beat them. They've been our rivals since third grade."
"Our coaches and teammates emphasized on staying focused," O'Donnell said.
"Once we found out we were going to Tualatin, we refocused," Leavitt said. "We showed up ready to play."
They certainly did.
And, when the game resumed at 9:10 p.m., about 1:55 after the power outage at Tigard, the Tiger running game and defense took over.
On the very first play after play resumed, Leavitt powered his way into the end zone from a yard out, giving Tigard a 7-0 lead with 4 minutes and 57 seconds left to play in the first quarter.
The next time Tigard had the ball, the Tigers, behind the running of Leavitt, senior Spencer Smith and junior Malcolm Stockdale, moved the ball 91 yards in 18 plays.
Leavitt capped off the drive with a two-yard touchdown run, leaping over the pile and into the end zone, upping the Tigard lead to 14-0 with 4:32 left to play in the second quarter. The Tigers would go on to take that 14-point lead into the second half.
Tualatin tried to get things going after halftime. On the Wolves' first possession of the third quarter, Tualatin junior quarterback Kyle Dernedde threw a 30-yard pass to senior receiver Nick Savage, moving the ball to the Tigard 35-yard line. But, two plays later, Tigard sophomore defensive back Max Lenzy made a leaping interception, ending that drive.
But, later in the period, Freese made an interception of a ball deflected by senior teammate Risean Williams, and he returned the ball 39 yards to the Tigard 46-yard line.
"Risean hit it down, and I grabbed it," Freese said. "I was hoping that would get things going for us."
It did — for the moment.
On the very next play following the turnover, Tualatin senior Lucas Noland threw a 33-yard halfback pass to Dernedde, moving the ball to the Tigard 13-yard line. Three plays later, Tualatin senior Nathan Marx scored on a one-yard run, cutting the Tiger lead to 14-6 with 3:15 remaining in the third quarter.
But Tigard answered back right away, with another time-consuming scoring drive. This time, the Tigers moved the ball 88 yards in 20 plays.
Leavitt again capped off the drive, which ate 11:13 off the clock, with another two-yard touchdown run, pushing the margin to 21-6 with 4:02 left in the game.
On the ensuing Tualatin drive, O'Donnell came up with his interception, and he returned the ball 15 yards to the Tualatin 23-yard line.
"It was a broken play. I saw the quarterback scramble and I read his eyes. I was able to jump the route," O'Donnell said. "I wanted to score, but I ran out of room to run."
Four plays later, Stockdale was able to score, on a seven-yard run with 1:40 left in the game, capping off all the scoring in the Tigers' 28-6 victory.
"This win was really important to us," Leavitt said. "And we came to play."
"We needed this,"Albaugh said.
"This was really important," O'Donnell aid. "This gives us some momentum going into the playoffs. Confidence is an important thing to us."
Tigard, as a team, rushed for 259 yards on 56 carries, controlling the clock in the process.
Leavitt had 77 yards on 21 carries to go with his three touchdowns.
"I have the best line in the state," Leavitt said, referring to the group that includes Albaugh, senior Sean Ryan, senior Laytan Tanuvasa, junior Isaia Tavita Porter and senior Jaran White, as well as tight ends Kyle Bay, Mitchell Cross and Noah Jackman, among others.
Running behind that line, Smith ran for 79 yards on 17 carries, Stockdale ran for 72 yards on 12 carries and Carter had 28 yards on five carries.
"We did well," Albaugh said of the Tigard linemen. "Our running backs make us look good. We trust each other, and we trust the running backs. We have the best running backs in the state. Jake Leavitt ran so hard tonight."
Carter completed three of 11 pass attempts for 76 yards. Harrold, Jackman and Cross had one reception apiece.
The Tigard defense held Tualatin to 122 total yards, on 34 offensive plays, in the victory.
"I feel like we do better against spread offenses," O'Donnell said. "We made the tackles and kept pressure on the quarterback."
Dernedde completed five of 15 passes for 46 yards. Savage had four receptions for 47 yards Marx was the Wolves' top rusher with 12 yards on four carries.
"It was really physical," Freese said. "They have a good offensive line, but our defense battled. I'm proud of the way we battled. We'll deal with this loss, and bounce back strong. We'll come back hungry and be ready for the playoffs."
Tualatin will open the Class 6A state playoffs next Friday at home against Madison. Tigard will also be home to open the state playoffs at home, as the Tigers will host Barlow.
If Tigard and Tualatin both win their first-round match-ups, they'll have their rematch in Round 2 of the state playoffs, at Tigard High School.