Newberg playoff bound for first time since 2009
6A football The Tigers grind out 355 yards rushing to steamroll Hillsboro 37-8 and finish in tie for third in Pacific Conference
HILLSBORO Leading Hillsboro 30-8 with just over six minutes to play Friday night at Hare Field, Newberg certainly didnt need a second touchdown run from Andy Tautfest.
But when the senior running back broke free for a 47-yard score, the sidelines exploded, smiles and high fives abound.
The Tigers were not only celebrating a big night for their go-to player in his final regular season game, but were releasing the pent up frustration and disappointment of missing the playoffs for three consecutive seasons.
The touchdown scamper was the exclamation point on a 37-8 victory over the Spartans, but the joy was mostly born of clinching a postseason berth for the first time since 2009. It is T.J. Tomlins first playoff team in four seasons as head coach.
Its great for the whole team to work together and have team chemistry great enough to get there, senior lineman Dakota Church said. Its the first time in a long time.
The Tigers opened the scoring with what has become a familiar combination, as junior quarterback Grayson Oviatt hit classmate Tyler DeLashmutt for a 42-yard touchdown late in the first quarter.
Newberg doubled its lead on a 19-yard Garrison Hardin run 2:44 into the second quarter, then had a chance to completely take the wind out of Hillsboros sails after Bryce Schubert leveled Spartans quarterback Matt Jones for a sack and forced a fumble the Tigers recovered.
But like in several other second-quarter situations, Newberg failed to follow through on offense, turning the ball over on downs at the Hillsboro 22-yard line.
The Spartans (2-7 overall, 1-6 Pacific Conference) responded with a touchdown drive of their own to cut the lead to 14-8, but left the Tigers enough time, 51 seconds, to drive for a 35-yard Oviatt field goal to make it 17-8 at the break.
We felt like there were some opportunities in the first half that we just didnt take advantage of, Tomlin said. We talked to the kids about that at halftime. We were the better team, we just didnt put it away.
Newberg mounted a 15-play drive to open the second half, but were turned away again after coming up short on fourth-and-three from the Hillsboro 9-yard line.
But like it has done all season, the defense was stout and provided several more opportunities, with the Tigers finally cashing in on a 2-yard Garrison Hardin touchdown plunge to make it 24-8 at the end of the third quarter.
Newberg rolled from that point forward, as Tautfest nabbed an interception and capped the ensuing drive with an 8-yard scoring run with 9:09 to play, then broke free for his long touchdown three minutes later.
We call on him a lot to make something happen and hes definitely performed when weve needed him, Tomlin said. Hes a guy that will do that for you, hell give you a spark.
Tautfest carried the ball 11 times for 111 yards and two scores, but it was Hardin who led the team in rushing, compiling 132 yards and two scores on 18 carries. All told, the Tigers amassed 355 yards rushing and 457 yards of total offense.
Were pretty much saying, Were going to run this play and you cant stop our play, Church said.We just go and go and go and pound it for five yards every time.
Newberg (5-4, 4-3) finished in a tie for third place with Glencoe and despite losing the head to head matchup, finished one spot higher in the OSAA power rankings at No. 20.
That means the Tigers will likely travel for a first-round playoff game next week, but in the meantime will enjoy a well-earned week off.
The players and coaches are not only proud to have made Newberg a playoff team once again, but believe they have the potential to advance as well.
Our defense is hopefully going to play lights out, our offense is going to get squared away and we run a scary offense at times, Tomlin said. We can be pretty daunting to try to defend. Were going to take that momentum and try to go as deep as we can.