TIGARD — Big plays.
The Tigard High School football team had a bunch of them.
The Tigers had big plays on offense. They had big plays on defense. They had them on the ground. They had them threw the air.
Heck, Tigard senior Max Lenzy had three big scoring plays himself — getting a rushing touchdown, a receiving touchdown and reaching the end zone on an interception return.
The Tigers, amassing 604 yards of total offense, turned all of those big plays into a big win, and they posted a 51-27 victory over Canby in a wild Three Rivers League game played Friday at Tigard High School.
"We're really explosive this year," said Tigard senior running back Hunter Gilbert, who rushed for 193 yards and a pair of touchdowns. "It went pretty good. I feel that we played hard. We took some plays off, but we played hard."
"It was good. We started off slow, but we picked it up," Lenzy said. "We knew we just had to turn it around. If we want to be the best of the best, we have to compete throughout the whole game. So, I'm just happy we turned it around."
"Yeah, of course, we're a big-play team," said Tigard junior quarterback Drew Carter, who passed for 209 yards and three touchdowns. "We're trying to throw the ball more and take the opportunities when we get them."
With the victory, coming in Tigard's first home game of the season, the Tigers upped their overall record to 3-0, while getting off to a 1-0 start to Three Rivers League play.
"It was great. I was very satisfied with the win. I thought we all played great. The coaches were very happy. We still have things to work on, but it's the first league game, and I tip my hat to Canby. They're a great team."
Canby, which also had its share of big plays in Friday's game, moved to 0-3 on the season and to 0-1 in Three Rivers League contests.
"I feel like we fought pretty well," said Canby junior receiver Chance Miller, who had a pair of touchdown catches. "Even though the score doesn't show it, I feel like we grew as a team."
"It went pretty good. In the first half, we definitely had them beat." said Cougar senior quarterback Andrew Peters, who had a pair of TD passes. "I think we just got tired. Things happen. Injuries happen."
Canby actually had the first big play of the game, as, in the Cougars' opening possession, senior running back Wyatt Ramos ran 68 yards to the Tigard 4-yard line, where Canby had first and goal. But that's where the Tiger defense stepped up.
Stuffing a pair of runs, and helping force an incomplete pass, Tigard pushed Canby into a fourth-and-goal situation from the 2-yard line. On the fourth-down run, Gilbert forced a fumble, with the ball rolling out of bounds at the 1-yard line.
"Opening drive, they had a long run, and we're kind of nervous, trying to get in the groove," Gilbert said. "It was the goal line, and we just try to stay tough."
Following the turnover, Tigard put together a 99-yard scoring drive, featuring the running of Gilbert and senior Josh Burns. Lenzy capped off the drive, taking an inside handoff and scoring on a 21-yard sweep to the left side, giving the Tigers a 7-0 lead with 7 minutes and 13 seconds left to play in the first quarter.
Now, it was Canby's turn for a big play. And the Cougars got it, with Peters connecting with Miller for a 76-yard touchdown pass play, with tied the game at 7-7 with 6:26 left to play in the first quarter.
"I didn't even see it coming," Miller said with a smile. "It was just good."
Tigard quickly answered, with Gilbert scoring on a 42-yard run, giving the Tigers a 14-7 advantage with 5:15 left in the opening period. The next time the Tigers had the ball, Gilbert turned in an even bigger scoring run. This time, he reached the end zone from 73 yards out, bursting through a big hole in the middle of the line, cutting to his left and then sprinting down the sideline, upping the Tigard lead to 20-7 with 45 seconds left to play in the first quarter.
"It was fun," Gilbert said. "I got loose, and it was very-well blocked."
Now, it was Canby's turn to answer back, and the Cougars did it on a fourth-and-10 play from the Tigard 28-yard line. On the fourth-down play, Peters threw to senior receiver Jackson Linman down the left sideline, with Linman making a leaping catch in the front corner of the end zone for a touchdown, which cut the Tigard lead to 20-14 with 2:17 left in the second quarter.
But that turned out to be enough time for Tigard to respond with another big play. This time, it was Carter throwing a 33-yard touchdown pass to junior receiver Matthew Otness, coming with 1:37 left in the period, helping the Tigers take a 27-14 halftime lead.
Early in the third quarter the Tigard defense came up with another big play, as senior linebacker Kamryn Hosley intercepted a Canby pass at the Tiger 12-yard line. Two plays later, Carter, on a play-action pass, connected with a sprinting Lenzy for an 89-yard touchdown connection, pushing the Tigard lead to 34-14 with 9:40 left in the third quarter.
"We knew the safety was coming down, and the corner was playing (man-to-man defense)," Carter said. "I like those odds, Max against any corner."
"It was just a good play," Lenzy said. "The coaches set it up well, the line blocked well, it was just a great all-around play."
Just two plays later, Lenzy was at it again. This time, he intercepted a tipped Canby pass and returned the ball 33 yards down the right sideline for a touchdown that gave Tigard a 41-14 advantage with 8:50 remaining in the third quarter.
"Kameron Hosley deflected that, and I was right there," Lenzy said. "That was all him."
From there, Tigard got a 14-yard touchdown pass from Drew Carter to senior tight end Andrew Carter, and a 40-yard field goal by senior Jackson Cleaver.
Canby, fighting to the end, got a 2-yard touchdown run by Ramos and a 31-yard touchdown pass from sophomore Michael Gibson to Miller, making the final score 51-27.
"I loved it. I was very satisfied," Drew Carter said. "It was our first home game, and I love playing at home."
"So far, we're all learning, but, each week, we're just getting better and better," Lenzy said. "First league game, first home game of the season. It was great to get it all."
Lenzy had a big overall game. He had five receptions for 133 yards and a touchdown. He had two carries for 73 yards and a score (he almost had two rushing TDs, as he fumbled out of the end zone at the end of a 52-yard run), and the 33-yard interception return for a touchdown.
"It was fun," he said. "It would have been more fun if I didn't fumble on that one, but it was good."
Gilbert picked up his 193 rushing yards on 16 carries. Junior Hewitt Sullivan added 51 yards on five carries, and Burns had 38 yards on seven carries.
Tigard, behind the offensive line of senior Johnny Nomani, senior Erik Schulz, junior Aden Murphy, senior Bryce Goetz and junior Edward Beglaryan, among others, rushed for 393 yards on 36 carries as a team.
"Every running back did great, and the line blocked very well, both for the running backs and for me," said Drew Carter, who completed nine of 11 pass attempts for 209 yards.
For Canby, Miller had five receptions for 131 yards and two touchdowns.
"Those are my first two touchdowns of the season, so that was really good," he said.
Peters completed 13 of 29 pass attempts for 204 yards. He also ran for 33 yards on seven carries.
"The passing game was there," Peters said. "They had a heavy rush, and that made the passing game a little harder, but when we got the passes off, they were there."
Ramos ran for 115 yards on 17 carries.
Canby, as a team, hd 405 yards of total offense in the contest.
"Our offense is so much better," Miller said. "It's like, pass-run — everyone loves it."
For the Canby defense, junior Rylan Wymer had a fumble recovery. Junior Kaden Smith and senior Brent Patterson each had a tackle for a loss.
"This game will definitely make us better," Peters said. "We worked hard, and did better in practice this week, which made us better in the game. The harder you work in practice, the better you do in the game."
"We learned that we just have to keep on fighting," Miller said.
Both teams will be back in action next Friday. Canby will be home to face Newberg in a non-league game. Tigard will host defending Class 6A state champion Lake Oswego in a Three Rivers League showdown. Both of those games are set to start at 7 p.m.
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