HILLSBORO — Thurston didn’t feel the need to waste any time Saturday night, so the Colts dropped a 24-minute sledge hammer on Pendleton and cruised into 5A football championship game with a 51-30 victory at Hillsboro Stadium.
It wasn’t at all that close. The Colts suffocated everything the Buckaroos tried and ran up a 37-0 halftime lead, then holstered most of their hottest pistols.
They ran the lead out to 51-6 late in the third quarter, which induced the mandatory running clock — rare for a semifinal game at any level — and the Buckaroos scored their last 24 points against mostly backups with the game already decided.
Now the Colts (9-3) are in championship game next against No. 1 Wilsonville, most likely at Hillsboro Stadium again.
Thurston posted some impressive numbers against the Buckaroos, but the number that might reveal the most about the team is the number 7. That’s the seeding the Colts got entering the playoffs.
Strangely enough, Pendleton was seeded third.
And it created a giant-sized chip on a lot of Thurston shoulders.
“What are we ranked, seventh?” said junior linebacker Jake Riley, whose interception set up the Colts’ second touchdown. “We had a lot of motivation. We wanted to prove that we were supposed to be ranked higher than that, that we’re Thurston.
“We had a lot of energy tonight.”
The Colts got the jump on the Buckaroos at the outset. They went 69 yards in just six plays to score on the opening drive of the game, then stuffed the Bucks on a fourth down at the Pendleton 34 and drove for a 25-yard Gavin Levesque field goal.
Riley swiped a Trent Sorey pass — the Colts had three interceptions in the first half alone — to set up a tiny 7-yard drive for a 17-0 lead.
There wasn’t a darn thing Pendleton could do to stop them, and not a darn thing it could do to move the ball. The Buckaroos had exactly two first downs and 94 total yards in the first half.
Wesley Kommer, on his way to a 150-yard first half, scored his second touchdown midway through second quarter for a 24-0 Colt lead. If Pendleton had any comeback ambitions after that, they died with a two-touchdown Thurston sequence in the last 1:47 of the half.
The second one was a first for Thurston offensive lineman Patrick Antone, who picked up a loose ball at the three yard line as the Colts were going in and lumbered into the end zone.
“That was amazing,” the 255-pound senior said. “I had the pull the the kickout, and that didn’t work out. Then I saw the ball on the ground and saw that Calvin Royce (who fumbled the ball in the first place) was not down and the play was not over.
“I just picked it up and kept running.”
The second half was playtime for the Colts. Everybody got in, the clock kept moving and Pendleton got a little of its pride back. But not so much that the Colts were ever threatened.
The Colts amassed 401 total offense yards, mostly in the first half, and stuffed Pendleton’s running game at minus-5 yards.
“That was aggressive defense,” Colts’ coach Justin Starck said after the bloodletting was over. “They were playing at a really high level tonight.
“We had a great week of practice. We thought we could bring some pressure on them — not every down, we like to pick our spots. We felt like we could get to them a little bit.
Or a lot. The Colts dominated the half so much that Pendleton changed quarterbacks for two series — and wasn’t any more successful.
“We saw some things on film,” Starck said. “We thought we could get (Sorey) to throw off his back, maybe get a few sacks. Our linebackers, Jake and Santino (Stranieri) did an amazing job tonight. Our secondary, in the first half, did a phenomenal job.
“It was special.”