The Tigers take narrow 21-19 loss to ranked 10 Lakeridge
When it rains, it pours – and quite literally when Tigard football battled the weather along with ranked 10 Lakeridge under the Thursday (yes Thursday) Night Lights.
To say the least, Tigard doesn’t have it easy in the Three Rivers League (TRL) this year. Facing off against top 10 contenders: Lake Oswego, West Linn and Tualatin. To add to the list, Lakeridge High School entered the ring and took away a narrow 21-19 win in an Oct. 22 matchup. The loss brought Tigard to 3-5 on the season and 1-3 in the TRL.
Lakeridge, also known as this year’s underdog state contender, is expected to go deep into the playoffs after advancing to a 6-2 season record after the Tigard quarrel. Last year, the Pacers saw a 2-3 overall season record and went 5-7 in 2019 to rank 22nd.
The last these two met, Lakeridge took a swift 34-17 win. But in this Thursday matchup – stemmed by a lack in referee ability – Tigard would display their potential but had to withstand a monsoon-like rainstorm.
Ball boys shifted in after every play to deliver dry footballs, fumbles and missteps were in excess and everyone was drenched.
“We knew it was going to be wet out so we focused on ball security,” Tigard running back Konner Grant told Tigard Life. “But I muffed a kick on a kick-return and there were multiple fumbles, botched snaps. It affected the game greatly.”
Lakeridge held a score by the end of the first quarter (and after a fumble per team), but Tigard started to turn things around in the second.
Tigard kicker Henry Masters knocked the ball from their 47-yard line for 40 yards, but with a bit of controversy. The referees debated and ruled that a Lakeridge punt returner just brushed the ball before being recovered by Tigard on the 23-yard line, thus returning possession to the Tigers. After four consecutive runs by running back Luke Davis, Masters broke through with a 9-yard touchdown catch to tie 7-7.
Lakeridge answered back to end the half 14-7 after the Pacers’ Jake Reichle ran for a 27-yard touchdown. Reichle added another score third quarter as well with a 64-yard run. But this would be the last for LHS.
To open Tigard’s possession, Masters-Doble fired a 29-yard pass to junior wide receiver AJ Perez. However, the Tigers shortly found themselves with 4th and 7 on the Pacers’ 41-yard line. They opted to run and Masters-Doble couldn’t close the gap. But a personal foul on Lakeridge moved the Tigers to the Pacers’ 26.
After short gains, Grant was in touchdown position, took the handoff, struggled at the goal line and by the skin of his teeth fell through with two Lakeridge linebackers clinging on to cut the Lakeridge lead to 21-13.
“You know, we’ve been looking to take down one of these top teams all year and we’ve had some great first halves going into football games, but it’s been closing out for us,” Grant said. “Our word of the year has been ‘finish’ for the last few weeks.”
Just a few minutes later, the rain gave Tigard a helping hand. Lakeridge, in possession, snapped the ball much too high and it slid through quarterback Ryan Oliver’s fingertips. The recovery by Tigard linebacker Thomas Martin gave the Tigers a first down on the Lakeridge 27-yard line. Four plays later, Grant for his second score of the night. But, as Tigard’s two two-point conversion attempts had failed that night, the game finished in Lakeridge’s favor 21-19, the Tigers just short of an upset.
“Right there, that’s a good football team that we had our chances with, and you guys know it,” Tigard Head Coach John Kemper said in his post-game speech. “Be proud at how you played, we’re a good football team. We just proved it by playing the number 10 team in the state.”
What comes next for the Tigers is a first-round playoff chance. After securing a top-32 position in the OSAA power rankings, they can safely say they’ll be competing.
“Let this one sink in on those little mistakes we made – players and coaches both,” Kemper said. “We are a handful of plays away collectively, season-wide to being in a lot different spot right now.”