West Linn pounds West Albany 63-13 in first playoff round
The West Linn football team shifted into top gear on Friday.
Hosting West Albany in the first round of the Class 6A state playoffs, the Lions showed they were ready for the second season, blasting out to a huge first-half lead and keeping the hammer down in the second half to beat the Bulldogs 63-13 at West Linn High School.
"I think we had an amazing night on both sides of the ball," said senior wide receiver Qawi Ntsasa, who finished with seven catches for 107 yards and three touchdowns. "Everyone was making plays — that's all you can ask for."
"We just came out prepared to win, prepared to dominate," said senior running back/defensive back Tyler Good, who caught a 19-yard TD pass in the win and also helped the Lion defense hold the Bulldogs to just 125 yards in total offense. "We came out with an attitude of total domination."
Senior quarterback Ethan Long — he completed 20 of 26 passes for 321 yards and five touchdowns — said that the onset of the playoffs has the Lions focused on taking care of business.
"The playoffs is a different mindset so we just came out focused," said Long, who also rushed for two touchdowns. "It's a lot more serious, the intensity's gone up and our coaches are doing an incredible job of game planning so we can just come out and play football."
"Ethan had an amazing night tonight," Ntsasa said. "He was playing at a high level. He was sharp."
With the win, No. 3 West Linn improved to 8-2 on the season and advanced to the second round of the playoffs where the Lions will host No. 14 McNary (6-3 overall and a 22-20 winner over Grants Pass on Friday), likely at 7 p.m. Friday. No. 29 West Albany finished its season at 4-6.
The Lions opened the game at a dead sprint, with Joey Campbell recovering his team's short, game-opening kickoff at the West Albany 36-yard line. From there, Long hit on three straight passes for 26 yards, then scored on a one-yard run just 3 minutes, 25 seconds into the game.
After the West Linn defense forced a three-and-out, the offense converted another short-field opportunity, driving 36 yards in five plays and scoring on Long's seven-yard TD pass to Hayden Bromley with 5:09 to go in the first quarter.
After forcing another quick Bulldog punt, West Linn needed just seven plays to cover 51 yards and score again, with Long going 3 for 5 passing for 47 yards and Good scoring on a one-yard dive to lift his team's lead to 21-0 just 58 seconds before the end of the first quarter.
The Lions forced another West Albany punt on the first play of the second quarter, picked up 45 yards on a Long-to-Cade Knutson pass, then scored two plays later when Long went 14 yards untouched over the right side to extend his team's lead to 28-0 just 1:28 into the period.
West Albany senior Chase LaPerle got his team on the scoreboard on the ensuing kickoff when he took the kick back 90 yards to score and cut his team's deficit to 28-7 with 9:21 remaining in the first half.
Undaunted, the Lions scored for the fifth time in five possessions after the Bulldogs' kickoff, getting a six-yard Long-to-Ntsasa pass, then a 45-yarder from Long to Ntsasa for a leaping score in the middle of the field to make it 35-7 with 9:21 left in the half.
But the Lions weren't done with their first-half outburst, not by a longshot. The West Linn "D" forced another quick stop — including a sack of West Albany quarterback Nick Fleetwood by Damiko Tidmore — and the offense responded with a 74-yard scoring drive capped by Long's 21-yard completion over the middle to Ntsasa for another touchdown and a 42-7 lead.
And finally, after forcing a fifth Bulldog punt — that stop forced in part by Sam Sullwold's nine-yard sack — West Linn marched 67 yards to score again in just five plays. That drive was highlighted by four straight Long throws for 63 yards, the final 18 of those on a completion over the middle to Ntsasa to push the Lions' lead to 49-7 with 38 seconds remaining in the half.
The Lions tacked on two more scores at the start of the second half — making it nine TDs on nine possessions — to close out their victory with a running clock over the final two quarters. The first of those came on a 21-yard Long throw to Dawson Jolley for a 55-7 edge, and the second a nine-yard run by backup quarterback Colby Iverson late in the third quarter.
West Albany added its second score on a 29-yard play-action pass from Fleetwood to LaPerle with 5:40 left to play.
For the game, Jolley led West Linn rushers with five carries for 59 yards, while Casey Tawa added three catches for 44 yards. Caulin Leach carried eight times for 29 times to lead West Albany, Fleetwood went 8 of 14 passing for 78 yards with one TD, and LaPerle made four catches for 46 yards and one score.
Now, the Lions are setting their sights on McNary, what they hope will be another win, and after that, a berth in the state quarterfinals.
"I think every game is going to come down to us," Good said. "Whether or not we win or lose, it's all going to be on our shoulders."
"We can't overlook anyone. We can't take anyone lightly," Long added. "We've just got to come out and perform each week."