West Linn football falls short in 42-21 loss to Tigard
The West Linn football team is running the gauntlet.
And while it's not always pleasant, there's no better way to get ready for the upcoming Class 6A state playoffs.
The Lions ran another leg in their torturous regular season on Friday, Oct. 25, and while this stretch wasn't the team's favorite — West Linn dropped a 42-21 decision to top-ranked Tigard at Tigard High School — it marked another contest against a top-notch opponent and another chance to improve.
"When we do our jobs and assignments correctly, we are a very good football team — on both sides of the ball," said West Linn football coach Chris Miller. "(But) we made too many mistakes at key points of the game that good teams don't make and it cost us."
The Lions held their own in Friday's first and fourth quarters, but got outscored 28-7 in the night's middle two quarters and couldn't recover.
With the loss — it came a week after the Lions beat second-ranked Tualatin and two weeks after they lost to top-ranked Lake Oswego on the last play of the game — the No. 5 Lions fell to 2-2 and fourth in Special District 5 and 5-3 overall.
No. 1 Tigard, meanwhile, won for the eighth straight time — the Tigers are the state's only unbeaten team in the Class 6A ranks — and improved to 5-0 in SD5 play and 8-0 overall.
While the Tigers eventually held the upper hand, West Linn struck first on Friday, getting a 36-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Ethan Coleman to senior wide receiver Casey Tawa to give the Lions a 7-0 lead with 9 minutes, 2 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
Tigard, which racked up 333 rushing yards in the game, responded with its first score three minutes later when 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 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 Hewitt Sullivan and a conversion pass from quarterback Drew Carter to 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.
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," Miller said. "They had two good (running backs) that both ran for 140+ yards."
Burns finished with a game-high 18 carries for 171 yards 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 teammates Cole Scott and Tyler Pennadded one each.
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.
Next up, the Lions host Oregon City in the 99th annual Battle for the Bridge at 7 p.m. Friday at West Linn High School.
"Our focus moving forward will be to do what we are coached to do," Miller added. "Focus on assignment details and work to eliminate self-inflicted wounds."
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