Tigard beats West Linn 9-0, snaps Lions' long winning streak
Seven hundred twenty-nine days.
Nearly 24 months.
One year, 11 months and 28 days.
That's how long it had been since the West Linn football team had lost a Three Rivers League game.
But that's just what happened on Friday, with Tigard using its ground-pounding offensive attack, clock control and physical defense to beat the Lions 9-0 at West Linn High School. In the process, the Tigers snapped West Linn's 19-game winning streak (dating back to the 2015 Class 6A state championship game) and also the Lions' 13-game TRL winning streak (dating back to their 38-35 loss to Sherwood back on Oct. 9, 2015). Friday's loss also marked West Linn's first shutout since a 41-0 defeat to Lake Oswego on Sept. 28 of 2012.
"We knew it wouldn't be an easy game. We had to bring the intensity and just hit the quarterback," said Tigard senior linebacker Kyle Bay, who had two sacks and forced a fumble in the win. "That's what our coaches told us, just bring the intensity and hammer them, keep hammering."
"I think they're a little shocked," said Tigard senior wide receiver/defensive back Braden Lenzy, who had 119 yards in total offense and also picked off a West Linn pass. "I think they thought we were going to be intimidated by them and we're not scared of anyone. We'll come at anyone, smack them in the mouth and see if they're serious or not."
With the win, the Tigers improved to 4-0 in Three Rivers League play and 5-1 overall, while West Linn — the top-ranked team in the state entering the game — fell to 3-1 in league and 5-1 overall.
"We definitely didn't want to lose this one but we will bounce back," said senior tight end Keishon Dawkins, who made two catches for 24 yards. "It's tough tonight, but next week, we've just got to go with the mindset that we are going to win. We've got to fight back."
"We knew it was going to be a physical game and we just had to step it up," said West Linn senior linebacker Taran Floyd. "They had a great game plan coming in, and you know what? They were a little more physical than we were today and today was their day."
Tigard had the first scoring chance of the day after Lenzy returned an Ethan Long punt 62 yards to the West Linn 21-yard line. On the fourth play of the series, though, Tigard running back Malcolm Stockdale took a dive play, was hit hard at the one-yard line and fumbled the ball away to West Linn's Elijah Ntsasa.
The West Linn defense was tested again just three plays later when Long's pass to James Marshall was tipped away and intercepted by Max Lenzy at the Lions' nine-yard line. From there, the Tigers ran Stockdale four straight times, the Lions eventually stopping him for no gain on a fourth-and-one carry from the one-yard line.
The West Linn offense misfired again, however, and this time, it cost the Lions dearly. West Linn punted the ball away after three plays and the Tigers responded with a 62-yard scoring drive — with Braden Lenzy carrying five times from the wildcat formation for 35 yards — that ended when senior Spencer Smith barreled into the end zone from five yards out for a 6-0 lead after Jackson Cleaver's extra point went awry with 6 minutes, 3 seconds to go in the second quarter.
"It feels great. I can't even explain it. It feels amazing," Smith said of his TD. "They blitzed on our side, I cut back and it was easy."
On the next series, Long fumbled the ball away when he was sacked by Bay on first-and-10 from the Tigard 38, but the Lions' defense answered on Tigard's next possession, forcing a three-and-out that kept the score 6-0 at the half.
The Tigers expanded their lead on the first series of the second half, driving 66 yards to the Lions' four-yard line before settling for a 21-yard Cleaver field goal that made it 9-0 just over four minutes into the half. Max Lenzy made the big play on that drive, catching a Drew Carter pass, breaking a tackle and picking up 39 yards.
After a trade of punts, Braden Lenzy picked off a Long throw intended for Qawi Ntsasa and took it back to the Lions' 29-yard line early in the fourth quarter. While the Tigers didn't add to their lead there — Braden Lenzy caught a pass for 31 yards, then was hit and fumbled the ball away to West Linn's James Marshall — it interrupted yet another West Linn offensive series.
The Lions went three-and-out again after that, and even when West Linn's James Marshall picked off Carter deep in his team's end, the Lions couldn't convert. This time, West Linn drove 62 yards to the Tigers' 25-yard line before Long was picked off again with just 3:56 left in the game.
"I believe in my team. I believe in my players. I'm just happy to be part of this team," Braden Lenzy said. "I believe we can play with anyone in the state and I think we showed that tonight."
"We knew that we were a hard-hitting team and we knew we could show them some pressure they'd never seen before," Bay said. "We knew we were capable of this from game one."
For their part, the Lions vowed to come back strong.
"I'm not worried about this game," Elijah Ntsasa said. "It was a big loss for us at our home stadium, but we'll bounce back. We're a good team. It will motivate us for the rest of the year."
For the game, Braden Lenzy rushed 10 times for 88 yards and also caught four passes for 49 yards. Stockdale and Smith each carried 14 times for 46 yards, and Carter went 8 of 11 for 101 yards with one interception.
For West Linn, Ahmir McGee had five carries for 24 yards, Long went 15 of 28 passing for 129 yards and three interceptions, with Casey Tawa making three catches for 30 yards.
Next up, West Linn plays at Tigard at 7 p.m. on Friday, while Tigard hosts Sherwood at 7 p.m. Friday.