West Linn’s game plan was to establish the run. When Sherwood couldn’t stop it, the Lions just kept running and running and running, all the way to a 35-14 victory at home in the second round of the OSAA 6A state championships sponsored by OnPoint Community Credit Union.
Junior Gavin Haines finished with 198 yards on the ground and four touchdowns, including a 71-yard scamper in the final two minutes that salted away the win, the second this season for West Linn over Sherwood.
“The last time we played them we didn’t have the best success running the ball,” said Haines. “We wanted to dominate the line this time and that’s what we did. It was really fun to run behind our line tonight.”
Sherwood, which won the toss and elected to receive, also wanted to establish the line of scrimmage on offense. The Bowmen did a good job of owning time of possession in the first half, but they were set back by little mistakes.
Their first drive was thwarted by a holding penalty and the failure to convert on fourth-and-short. West Linn took over near midfield and capped a quick drive when Ethan Coleman found Casey Tawa in the back of the end zone from 21 yards out.
On its second drive, Sherwood was poised to go for it again on fourth-and-one from its own territory when a false start forced coach Greg Lawrence to opt to punt. Zyion Nelson blocked it, his third punt block of the season. West Linn recovered at the Sherwood 10-yard-line and needed just two plays to score, cashing in on Haines’ first touchdown from two yards out.
Sherwood’s third drive also ended on downs. West Linn again converted, capping a long drive with Haines’ 32-yard gut buster untouched to the house. Three possessions, three touchdowns say West Linn take a 21-0 lead to the half.
The Lions got the ball to start the second half and took nearly six minutes off the clock in an 80-yard drive. Mitchell Duea had a clutch catch to move the chains but Haines did most of the heavy lifting and finished from three yards out, making it 28-0 West Linn.
Sherwood, getting strong running from Lucas Voss, Clay Peden and Brody Stevens, scored a touchdown in the third quarter and another in the fourth, both on short Voss runs; to pull within 28-14 and make things interesting. When Coleman got intercepted on West Linn’s next possession, Lion faithful started to get a little bit nervous, especially as Sherwood’s running game was wearing down West Linn front eight.
Sherwood got as close as the Lion 20-yard-line from getting a third score to make it a one-touchdown game, but the Bowmen fumbled, Ryan Seth recovered and, three plays later, Haines exploded for the clincher.
“I wasn’t expecting to score on that,” he said. “It was the smallest hole. I think Darren [Wiancko] on the left pushed the guy out and I was like, ‘That’s game.’”
The win marked the final home game in the six-year West Linn coaching career of Chris Miller, who is leaving after the season to become Offensive Coordinator for the Houston franchise of the XFL.
West Linn plays Central Catholic next Friday in a quarterfinal game at Hillsboro Stadium.