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The Tigers' running game and defense key the 42-21 Three Rivers League victory

COURTESY PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER GERMANO - Tigard High School senior Josh Burns (8) sprints down the sideline on his way to scoring one of his four touchdowns for the Tigers in their 42-21 victory over West Linn.The Tigard High School football team had a big game running the ball.

Tigard also came up big on defense.

And it all added up to a huge win for the Tigers.

Tigard, rushing for 333 yards on offense, and coming up with five turnovers on defense, powered its way to a 42-21 win over West Linn in a Three Rivers League showdown played Friday at Tigard High School.

"The kids were ready to go, and they knew that it was going to be a tough test," Tigard coach John Kemper said. "They executed the game plan. We had some success running the ball, and we stuck with it, and we still were efficient in the passing game."

With the loss, West Linn moved to 2-2 in TRL games (5-3 overall), putting the Lions in fourth place in the league standings. Tigard improved to 5-0 in TRL play (8-0 overall), leaving the Tigers alone atop the league standings, as well as the only undefeated team in the Class 6A ranks.

West Linn actually struck first in Friday's game, getting a 36-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Ethan Coleman to senior wide receiver Casey Tawa, giving the Lions a 7-0 lead with 9 minutes, 2 seconds remaining in the first quarter.

COURTESY PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER GERMANO - Tigard High School senior defensive back Tyler Penn (2) goes up high to intercept a pass intended for West Linn freshman Jackson Shelstad during Friday's game.Tigard responded with its first score three minutes later when senior running back Josh Burns cashed in from 4 yards out to tie the game at 7-7.

But West Linn, which was plagued by four interceptions, wouldn't score again until the end of the third quarter and the Tigers used their opportunistic defense and powerful ground game to take over.

Tigard senior running back Hunter Gilbert scored on a 4-yard run four minutes into the second quarter to give his team a 13-0 edge. Next, the Tigers' defense stepped up, getting a 38-yard interception return for a touchdown by junior Hewitt Sullivan, and a 2-point conversion pass from junior quarterback Drew Carter to senior tight end Andrew Carter to extend their edge to 21-7 at the half.

The Tigers then boosted their lead to 28-7 five minutes into the third quarter on a 40-yard Drew Carter TD pass to Burns.

COURTESY PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER GERMANO - Tigard High School senior running back Hunter Gilbert breaks into the clear during the Tigers' 42-21 league win over West Linn on Friday.West Linn answered with a 7-yard touchdown pass from Coleman to senior tight end Damiko Tidmore, but Tigard pushed its lead back to three scores at 35-14 on an 8-yard Burns run in the final minute of the third period.

The two teams then traded scores in the fourth quarter, with the Lions getting a 4-yard TD pass from Coleman to Tidmore and the Tigers closing out the scoring with a 67-yard Burns scoring run.

"Tigard is a very good team — their No. 1 ranking speaks to that," West Linn coach Chris Miller said. "They had two good (running backs) that both ran for 140-plus yards."

Burns finished with a game-high 171 yards on 18 carries, and Gilbert added 23 rushes for 134 yards. Drew Carter completed 8 of 13 passes for 119 yards with one TD and no interceptions, with Burns making three catches for 67 yards and Gilbert two for 33 yards.

Sullivan had two interceptions in the game, while senior Cole Scott and senior Tyler Penn added one each for the Tigers. Senior Max Lenzy had a fumble recovery for Tigard, while also leading the team with nine total tackles. Gilbert was in on eight tackles, Sullivan seven, and senior lineman Bryce Goetz was in on six.

"We did a good job disguising things on defense, and made some good plays," Kemper said.

COURTESY PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER GERMANO - Tigard High School senior Josh Burns (8) celebrates with teammates (from left) Bryce Goetz, Mathew Otness and Edward Beglaryan after scoring one of his four touchdowns in the Tigers' 42-21 win over West Linn.For West Linn, junior Gavin Haines ran 22 times for 146 yards, Coleman completed 16 of 29 passes for 214 yards with three TDs and four interceptions, with Tawa making nine catches for 158 yards and one score.

Both teams will be back in action on Friday. Tigard, trying to wrap up sole possession of the Three Rivers League championship, will host rival Tualatin at 7 p.m. Oregon City will be home to face Oregon City at 7 p.m.

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