West Linn wins 100th 'Battle for the Bridge' over Oregon City 40-13
The first time that West Linn and Oregon City met on the high school football gridiron, Warren G. Harding was president, the U.S. was on the cusp of the Roaring Twenties and America was still recovering from World War I.
On Friday, April 2, those two teams battled once again, this time coming together for the 100th regular-season iteration of the Battle for the Bridge game at Oregon City's Pioneer Memorial Stadium. By the time the dust had settled in the longest-running high school football rivalry west of the Mississippi River, the Lions had pulled away to win 40-13.
"I thought our team played well as a whole," said West Linn senior quarterback Blake DeBisschop, who went 16 of 25 passing for 337 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions. "Our defense did a great job and our guys were flying around making plays on both sides of the ball."
"I thought our team played good in the second half, even though we started off a little slow," said West Linn senior running back Gavin Haines, who rushed nine times for 125 yards and one TD, and caught two passes for 100 yards and another two scores. "The key was keeping the energy and momentum on our side."
With the win, West Linn improved to 5-0 in Special District 5 play and 5-0 overall, with just its 7 p.m. Friday, April 9, home game against similarly unbeaten Newberg (5-0) remaining on the 2021 schedule.
Oregon City, meanwhile, fell to 0-5 in SD5 and 0-5 overall, but fought well against the talented Lions. The Pioneers end their 2021 season with a 7 p.m. Friday game at David Douglas.
"Overall, I am super proud of our team," said Oregon City senior quarterback Trey Martin, who went 16 of 25 passing for 120 yards with one interception. "We fought so hard and kept fighting no matter what."
"Our team played very well and our defense stepped up tremendously, (forcing) huge turnovers in the first half," said Oregon City senior wide receiver Jahleel Heath, who finished with two catches for 12 yards. "We had a tough time converting on those mistakes … but it was a great team effort."
While the Lions eventually pulled away to win by four scores, the Pioneers limited West Linn to just one touchdown in each of the first two quarters. The first of those came early, when DeBisschop connected with Haines for a 77-yard touchdown just 58 seconds into the game.
West Linn added its second score on a 45-yard TD burst by Haines midway through the second quarter, but led just 13-0 at the half, its efforts slowed by a pair of OC interceptions, one by Joey Shaw and the other by Christian Ferreyra.
The Lions kept the heat on in the third quarter, however, and added another two scores that boosted their edge to 26-0, the first of those a 30-yard interception return by senior Thomas McNamara and the second a 2-yard TD pass from DeBisschop to senior Clay Masters late in the period.
But Oregon City wasn't done. The Pios rallied for their first score at the end of the quarter, driving 49 yards in eight plays and capping that series with a 2-yard Logan West Peyton touchdown run to close within 26-7.
The Lions were in no mood to let things get any closer, though, and scored twice in a row in the fourth quarter to extend their lead over OC to 40-7. The first of those came on a 23-yard TD pass from DeBisschop to senior wide receiver Clay Masters, and the second on a 7-yard scoring run from senior Cole Peters.
To their credit, the Pioneers kept fighting and added their second score with just 1:48 left on the clock, an 18-yard touchdown run by sophomore Jake Lopez.
"The key to the result was staying focused throughout the week and doing what we do best which is playing hard, energetic, sound football," DeBisschop said.
"It was just a great football game, in my opinion," Martin said, giving credit to Brayden Thomas and the rest of his offensive line. "(But) West Linn is a great program and they came out on top."
Peters added five carries for 40 yards and one TD, while Masters led Lion receivers with eight catches for 94 yards and one score. For Oregon City, West Peyton carried 16 times for 47 yards, while junior receiver Cade Heitschmidt made five catches for 134 yards and sophomore Brandon Martin two catches for 58 yards.
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