Returning Sayre powers Tualatin past Lakeridge
TUALATIN — Welcome back, Kainoa Sayre.
Sayre, a Tualatin High School senior, after missing his entire junior football season due to injury, took the field for the first time since his sophomore football season.
And what a return it was.
Sayre rushed for 137 yards and four touchdowns, helping the Timberwolves run to a 53-7 win over Lakeridge in a season-opening Three Rivers League contest played Friday at Tualatin High School.
"Man, it felt great," Sayre said with a big smile on his face following the game. "I've been counting — it's been 440 days since I broke my ankle. I've been hungrier than ever, and it felt great."
"It's awesome," said Tualatin senior quarterback/defensive back Blake Jackson, who had 114 yards of total offense and an interception on defense. "The feeling of him not being their last year just felt like there was a hole. I told him before the game that it's so great to have him back here. Good for him. I'm so happy for him. He worked so hard with rehab."
"He's everything," said Tualatin senior Luke Marion, who had a rushing touchdown on offense and a blocked punt on defense. "He's a part of the heart and soul of this team. He missed last year, and that broke our hearts. To have him come back is great. I love him to death."
With the win, Tualatin not only got off to a 1-0 start to the season, but also a 1-0 start to Three Rivers League play.
"Well, heck yeah, I think everyone was feeling good," Jackson said. "We came in with a little jitters, but we had a little talk in the locker room. For a bunch of us, this is our senior season, and we're ready to get it done. We came out ready to play."
"I think it went great," Marion said. "Obviously, the scoreboard tells a tale. I think it was a good game, but I think there were some errors that we need to work on."
Lakeridge, which got off to a 0-1 start to the season, will be looking to build upon Friday's opener.
"We have a lot to learn," said Lakeridge senior Cooper Justice, who was making his first start at quarterback for the Pacers. "I know that I, personally, have a lot to learn. A lot of it came down to me, making rookie mistakes. It's a positive-attitude kind of thing. I'm a leader on this team, and I have to keep my guys in it. I have to keep myself back in it. We'll be back strong next week."
"We'll come back next week and practice a lot harder and prepare for Clackamas," said Lakeridge senior Caiden Biege-Wetherbee, who scored the Pacers' touchdown. "Another thing is battling. We have to battle a lot more. At times tonight, we'd get to a third-and-long and relax a little bit."
The Timberwolves, and Sayre, got off to a fast start to the contest. On just the third place from scrimmage in the game, Sayre broke through a huge hole opened by the Tualatin offensive line and sprinted 71 yards for a touchdown.
"It felt great. It felt like a 'welcome home,' kind of," Sayre said. "I saw the crease, and I saw the guy I had to make miss, then I took off, and it felt great."
Marion threw a 2-point conversion pass, giving Tualatin an 8-0 lead with 10 minutes and 38 seconds left to play in the first quarter.
Jackson set up the next Timberwolf touchdown, intercepting a Lakeridge pass and returning the ball 17 yards to the Pacer 8-yard line.
"The interception was my highlight," Jackson said. "I wasn't sure if I'd be a two-way starter, because of the quarterback deal, but (Tualatin coach Dan) Lever talked to me, and said, 'I want you on both sides,' and I said 'alright.'"
Two plays later, Sayre powered his way into the end zone from a yard out, upping the Tualatin lead to 15-0 with 7:03 left to play in the first quarter.
Marion set up the next Tualatin touchdown, blocking a Lakeridge punt.
"It was in my head about fumbling, so I knew we had to get the ball back somehow," Marion said, referring to his first carry of the game. "So, I went and blocked it, and we got it back. We just kept rolling from there."
They sure did.
Three plays after the blocked punt, the Wolves got another big-play touchdown, when sophomore receiver Cole Prusia threw a 31-yard touchdown pass to senior receiver Cade McCarty, upping the margin to 22-0 with 5:08 left in the first quarter.
In the second quarter, the Wolves got a 28-yard touchdown run by Sayre and a 13-yard TD run by Marion, coming on a reverse, as Tualatin went on to take a 36-0 halftime lead.
Lakeridge, looking to come back strong in the second half, put together its only scoring drive of the game to open the third quarter.
A 13-yard run by Justice and a 52-yard pass-and-run play from Justice to senior Jalen John set up a 2-yard touchdown run by Biege-Wetherbee, which cut the Tualatin lead to 36-7 with 8:10 left to play in the period.
"That was huge for our team," Justice said of the scoring drive. "Getting shut out is painful. To get that touchdown on the board was really key for our team. It showed that we can do this. We have play-makers. We're not a bad team. We have good athletes."
"That was everything," Biege-Wetherbee said. "We were in the locker room at halftime, and we were discussing everything. We thought we needed to come out and score, and then we could change momentum in this game. While it didn't go as planned, score a million points and take the lead, it got the sideline riled up. Before that, it seemed kind of dead. Everyone got reinvested in the game. After I scored, I turned around, and everyone was celebrating. That was awesome."
But the Pacers couldn't get any closer.
Tualatin, with sophomore Jackson Jones at quarterback, answered back with a scoring drive of its own. Sayre capped off the 81-yard scoring drive with a 1-yard touchdown run, his fourth TD of the game, coming on his only carry of the second half, making the score 43-7 with 4:07 left in the third quarter.
In the fourth quarter, the Wolves got a 34-yard field goal by Prusia and a 3-yard touchdown run by sophomore Scott Wright, wrapping up the 53-7 victory.
"We came out, we prepared well all week, and we came out ready to play," Sayre said. "We have a lot of stuff to work on, but I feel like we got our first-week jitters out. We're ready to get back to work."
"We were ready. We came into this game hungry," Marion said. "We have a lot of hungry young guys. We came in here and we executed."
Sayre picked up his 137 rushing yards on 13 carries. Jackson added 54 rushing yards on 10 carries. Wright ran for 45 yards on four carries and Marion rushed for 44 yards on four carries.
Tualatin, behind the blocking of linemen Jama Guled, Nico Webb, Cody Van Meter, Brett Gydesen and Sonny Edward, among others, rushed for 354 yards on 46 carries as a team.
"I couldn't have done anything I did tonight without them," Sayre said. "I have to give all praises to them. They make everything happen."
"I was really impressed with our line," Jackson said. "Those are my guys, and they performed really well today."
Jackson competed seven of nine pass attempts for 60 yards. Jones completed six of nine passes for 65 yards. Sophomore Malik Ross had four catches for 30 yards. McCarty had three catches for 40 yards.
For the Tualatin defense, senior Jake Reser had two quarterback sacks and a forced fumble. Van Meter, senior Nolan Fragiao, Gydesen and junior Dylan Nguyen each had a quarterback sack. Senior John Miller and Jackson each had a tackle for a loss. Senior Josh Boespflug had a fumble recovery.
"This was awesome," Jackson said. "Everyone had energy, and everyone wanted to play. We feel like a team already, like a family."
For Lakeridge, John rushed for 103 yards on 17 carries. He also had three catches for 61 yards. Justice completed five of 18 pass attempts for 60 yards.
For the Pacer defense, Biege-Wetherbee had a fumble recovery and junior Alexander Ethel-King had a tackle for a loss.
"We have a long season ahead of us," Justice said. "I'd rather have this happen now than in the first round of the playoffs. I've got some growing to do, the team has some growing to do, but we'll be ready next week."
Both teams will be back in action on Friday. Tualatin will host Oregon City in a Three Rivers League game, and Lakeridge will travel to Clackamas for a non-league contest. Both of those games are scheduled to start at 7 p.m.
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