- Written by Don Francis
- Last Updated on September 11, 2012
- Published on September 9, 2012
- Hits: 3006
It came down to a Tigard field goal that went just inches wide left with five second left in the game that settled a thrilling match-up between two of the top team in the state as Aloha fought off a fourth quarter comeback by the Tigers to escape with a thrilling 36-34 win before a standing room only crowd at Tigard on Friday night.
On a beautiful late summer evening both Tigers and Warriors brought their playoff intensity. Early on it was Coach Craig Ruecker's squad who seized the early momentum, as Tigard quarterback Jett Even kept the Warrior's off balance with delayed handoffs and a short passing game. In their home all dark green jerseys and pants and black numbering, it was almost impossilble to read the numbering and between the running back trio of Benny Wick, Zach Floyd and Kaz Greene, they kept moving the chains. In the first quarter, Tigard managed one solid drive from their own twenty after an Aloha punt,marching deep into Aloha territory. Their nemesis was repeatedly getting stung with 'big plays gone bad by yellow hankie.' A 23 yard pass from Even to Floyd was negated and killed the onlly solid drive between the two team as they ended the first quarter in a scoreless tie.
The first break of the evening went to the Tigers who recovered a bad Aloha snap at midfield early in the second quarter. Floyd reeled off a 15 yard run and the Even hit wide receiver Chance Taylor for 18 yards. Several plays later Floyd would dive in from a yard out to cap a 53 yard drive and put Tigard up 7-0 with 8:05 left in the first quarter. Both defenses held and then Aloha's stellar defensive back Maurice McSwain picked off an Even pass returning it 64 yard deep into Tigard territory.to the eleven yard line. Thomas Tyner's ten yard burst set up a one yard plunge from senior Dominic Johnson and with 3:19 left before half to tie it up 7-7.
Tigard answered with a eight play drive, scoring with 25 second before the half to a 14-7 lead into halftime. Then the powder keg known as Thomas Tyner would explode in the third quarter to change the game from a defensive struggle to track meet that went up and down the field like two high scoring eight man football teams. Tyner, who carried the ball for 384 yards on 24 carries, was somewhat kept under wraps by a keying Tigard defense. The second half looked much the same as Aloha received the kick-off and was staring at a 3rd and 27 when Tyner hit the ignition switch and tore off a 74 yard touchdown run. The Aloha defense seemed to make some key adjustments and got the Tigers to "three and out' and on the Warriors next series, the first time Tyner touched the ball he went 73 yards for the score as Aloha bolted into a 21-14 lead.
It looked like the momentum was squarely on Aloha's side as they held Tigard without a first down again and with Tigard's defense keying on stopping Tyner, Aloha's quarterback CJ Eytel hiit McSwain for a quick out that turned into an 80 yard touchdown. In less than half the third quarter Aloha had three unanswered touchdowns and with 6;43 left in the third quarter the Warriors had jumped out to a 28-14 lead.
Long touchdown gallops were not a Tyner exclusive. On Tigards next possession, mercurial Kaz Greene would outrun the Warrior defenders 70 yards for their next score to pull to within 28-21 with 5:51. As Tigard was unveiling their new Nike Pro-Combat home uni's and showed exceptional team speed, they drew comparisons to the Oregon Duck, so it was only fitting they go 82 yard on their scoring march in a Duckesque 52 second drive.
"Thomas energized our entire team in the second half, said Aloha Coach Chris Casey," and our offensive line started opening some nice holes." In particular, senior tackle Brayden Kearsley, who continues to get admiring looks from bigger and bigger schools should have gotten an "Iron Man Award" after playing both ways. On a warm and muggy evening when you're 6'5 and 300 pounds and don't come out off the game while going both ways, that says something more than 'physcial speciman.'
With the third quarter winding down, Tyner wanted an exclamation mark and reeled off three straight carries for 35 yards then dashed 45 yards as time expired. Aloha took advantage of a Tigard penalty and Tyner added a two point conversion to rack up three touchdowns, 250 yards rushing and a two point conversion as the cherry on top. In just the third quarter. Aloha took what looked to be a commanding 36-21 lead into the fourth quarter. What is it Lee Corso likes to say? Something about not so fast?
Green and Floyd got the Tigers back in the game in a hurry. Floyd got a couple of long runs in then Greene went 41 yards in for the score. A missed PAT put the score at 36-27 and momentum seemed to swing back toward Tigard as the home teams fans got the enthusiastic noise cranking while Aloha fans moved their needle from enthusiastic cheers to nervous encouragement. Meanwhile Aloha's offense started sputtering and shanked a punt giving the Tigers the ball at the Warrior 45 with 8:02 left. On the third play of the drive, Zach Floyd showed his speed by motoring 33 yards and after his PAT, the score stood at 36-34 with 6:41 left in the game.
Inspired by the noisy crowd, the Tiger D again snuffed any aspirations of Aloha getting a clock eating drive and Tyner couldn't get the first down on third and short and the Warriors punted to the Tigard 18 with 4:46 left and intensity and crowd support of a state playoff game in the air. Albeit about 40 extra degrees warmer. Tigard started methodically moving down mixing up the calls between run and pass to keep Aloha off balance. A 32 yard pass play to Greene, who darted out at the Aloha eight yard line put the Tigers in a position to win. The kick looked good. Tiger fans celebrated. Aloha fans hid their face in anguish. Then the refs signalled "No Good." Just wide left.
Between the Tiger trio, with Greene and Floyd getting most the carries, they had 415 yards rushing on 42 carries. "These guys (Tigard) are one heck of a team, said Casey after the game. "there was a real ebb and flow in the game tonight. Both teams scored five touchdowns. We went in to the half and made some adjustments. Did some things to open the downfield blocking and the offensive line really started to feed off Thomas."
Both teams were impressive. Tigards team speed stood as while Aloha, Tyner aside, showed off an offensive line that could be one of the best in the state and a linebacker in Dominique Johnson who repeatedly came up with big plays.