No. 3 Tualatin football leaves no doubt in win at No. 1 West Linn
The two Ts in Tualatin High School's logo normally stands for Tualatin Timberwolves. On Saturday afternoon "Total Tyranny" would have been a better fit.
The No. 3-ranked Timberwolves, according to the latest OSAA coaches poll, crushed No. 1-ranked West Linn to the tune of 49-14, and the score wasn't even that close at Wilsonville High School.
The Lions two touchdowns came in the first quarter, both on fumble-return touchdowns. Besides that, Tualatin's offense couldn't be stopped. West Linn's offense had nowhere to go.
Tualatin rattled off 529 yards of offense while West Linn, normally a powerhouse offensively, only posted 271 and turned the ball over five times.
"Our defense played unbelievable, and I credit (assistant coach) Eric Moen for that," Timberwolves head coach Dan Lever said. "He schemed it up and did an unbelievable job tonight of getting our kids ready and our team ready to play like this."
Things were a little shaky in the first quarter as QB Jackson Jones fumbled the ball twice that led to Lions' touchdowns, but those were the only times Tualatin was truly stopped.
Of the Timberwolves' 12 possessions, seven ended with a touchdown, two via the fumbles, two punts late in the game and one ended because of halftime.
Leading the way was Jones, who went 20 for 29 for 342 passing yards and 4 TDs. Most of those yards went to Princeton-commit Cole Prusia, who hauled in 7 catches for 188 yards and 3 TDs.
"Jackson Jones is my best friend, he's always been my best friend," Prusia said. "We're throwing every weekend, I'm always at his house, he's at my house. Like we know each other's cousins, it's that kind of relationship."
West Linn had no answer for Prusia in the defensive backfield and didn't do much to slow the ground game either.
Malik Ross rushed the ball 12 times for 73 yards and had one TD, meanwhile backup QB Jack Wagner got a fair share of touches and even took a 49-yard rush to the house. He opened the scoring for Tualatin with a 24-yard TD pass to Prusia in the first quarter.
"It's a brotherhood, man," Lever said. "That's what you have to have to win these games. You've got to have a tight connection and this team is really coming together."
Lever said so in the post-game huddle that he thinks his squad is building something special now at 5-0 overall and 1-0 in Special District 5 play, better known as the Three-Rivers League.
Meanwhile on the West Linn (4-1, 0-1 SD5) side, head coach, Chris Miller, said he's no stranger to being on the wrong end of a blowout after his college and pro career as a player.
Miller said he'd take 4-1 at the beginning of the season, and now it's about cutting out the mental mistakes, such as his Lions squad on Saturday with plenty of false start penalties killing momentum and creating long distance downs.
"We had to play very clean, we had a good first drive going but we tend to be our own worst enemy and make a tremendous amount of mistakes so thank goodness our defense scored twice," Miller said. "Sometimes in life not everything is warm and fuzzy."
The biggest blow for the Lions was the start of the second half when the Lions quickly drove down to the Timberwolves' 3-yard line.
Two false starts eventually pushed West Linn back to the 13, but on fourth down his team couldn't find paydirt.
"We kind of play like we practice, we practice like that a lot, false starts, mental errors, assignment errors," Miller said. "The main focus is a little character deal with us. If we can go 8-1 in our regular season, 7-2 (we will be OK.)"
The matchups don't get any easier for either side as West Linn takes on 5-0 Lakeridge next week and Tualatin plays 5-0 Lake Oswego.
No matter the matchup, Tualatin feels like the statement made on Saturday is a big one and huge confidence boost the rest of the way.
"It means the world coming from last year's game, because last year's game was so much different than this game," Prusia said. "It was a great game all around. Offense was flying around, defense was flying around, everything. Everything was firing on all cylinders and the score showed it."
Statements can be made in the regular season, but state titles are won by improvement each week, something Lever echoed to his team after the big win.
So, while the upset feels nice, the Timberwolves know they have plenty of work to do still.
However, it feels nice knowing that no one will be overlooking Tualatin.
"Watching that team on film, they're a good football team. That's what a state championship group looks like," Miller said.
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