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The Lions pull away from the Celtics late behind quarterback Ethan Long's big day

TIDINGS FILE PHOTO - West Linn senior quarterback Ethan Long (shown here against Central Catholic) threw for 411 yards and six touchdowns in his team's 55-27 win over McNary on Friday.Each week poses a new test in Oregon high school football, but so far, the West Linn football team is passing with flying colors.

The Lions, who hosted McNary on Friday at West Linn High School, scored early, scored often and just kept scoring until they put the Celtics away 55-27.

"I thought the refs were a little flag happy, but overall, it was good," said West Linn coach Chris Miller. "We gave up a couple easy touchdowns early, but for the most part, our defense was effective."

In the process, West Linn won for the second straight week and improved to 2-0 in non-league play, while McNary lost its second straight contest and dropped to 0-2.

The Lions — led by Ethan Long's huge passing day (he went 31 of 45 for 411 yards and six touchdowns with two interceptions) — started fast with two first-quarter touchdowns to grab a 13-7 lead. Long hit junior tight end Damiko Tidmore with the first of those, a 20-yard scoring strike, then found senior wide receiver Cade Knutson later in the period for a 23-yard score.

McNary responded with a 4-yard TD pass from Erik Barker to Noah Bach in the first, but West Linn just kept on scoring in the second.

There, the Lions saw senior running back Dawson Jolley cash in on a 4-yard run and junior wide receiver Casey Tawa haul in a 30-yard Long pass to extend the West Linn lead to 27-7.

"(Long) played very well," Miller said. "He made a lot of good throws, he made quick decisions on pass options — he just commanded the offense very well."

The Celtics then answered with back-to-back scores — one in the second quarter and one in the third — to move within 27-21, but the Lions made sure they got no closer.

McNary's scores came on a 13-yard Barker pass to Jacob Jackson and a 12-yard Barker strike to Devyn Schurr, the last of those with 2 minutes, 57 seconds remaining in the third quarter.

Undeterred, West Linn outscored the Celtics 28-7 in the game's final 12:50, starting with a 29-yard Long-to-Tawa TD throw in the final minute of the third.

McNary got its last TD — an 18-yard pass from Barker to J.R. Walling — three minutes into the fourth, but West Linn did the rest, scoring three times in a span of just 4:36 in the latter half of the quarter.

Junior wide receiver Ethan Loun got the first of those, pulling in a 1-yard pass from Long, and after that, the Lion defense stepped up big-time, forcing two late turnovers to set up their team's final two scores.

First, the Lions forced a fumble after a Barker completion and took possession at midfield. On the seventh play afterward, Tawa grabbed his third TD catch of the day (an 11-yarder from Long) to extend West Linn's lead to 48-27.

Less than two minutes later, Max Jacobs picked off another Barker pass and gave his team possession at the Celtics' 20-yard line. Three plays later, Jolley capped things with a 5-yard run for the final 55-27 margin.

"We always try to get three turnovers per game," Miller said. "It's a high goal, but even if we only get two, we often win the turnover battle."

For the game, Jolley carried 13 times for 75 yards and two scores, Tawa made 13 catches for 266 yards and three TDs, and Knutson pulled in eight catches for 140 yards and one score.

For McNary, Walling rushed 16 times for 93 yards, Barker completed 22 of 33 throws for 236 yards with four TDs and one interception, with Schurr making eight catches for 70 yards.

On Friday: West Linn will get a stiffer test when it faces Sheldon (1-1 overall) at Sheldon High School at 7 p.m.

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