The Pendleton Buckaroos' defense did a number on La Salle Prep's offense on Thursday night.
That number was zero.
The usual suspects on Pendleton's offense did their thing — quarterback Tanner Sweek with two touchdown passes, and running back Zaanan Bane with two TD runs — but it was the Buckaroos' defense that stole the spotlight in a 34-0 road win over the Falcons in Milwaukie.
Defensive ends Blake Swanson and Isaac Urbina led a spirited charge for Pendleton on a cold, windy night when both teams had a difficult time holding onto the ball (five turnovers each) with first place in the 5A Special District 1-East standings on the line.
Pendleton opened a 14-0 halftime lead and then scored on three of its first four possessions of the second half as the Buckaroos (5-1, 4-0 SD 1-East) won their fifth in a row.
"Our kids are just starting to grow up and come into their own as a varsity team," Buckaroos coach Erik Davis said. "When you can turn the ball over that many times and still win 34-0, you did something right.
"Defensively, we played outstanding. My hat's off to our defensive coordinators for putting together a really good game plan. And then we did enough offensively. I think that more than anything — we did enough."
La Salle Prep (2-3, 2-1) had lived and died on the strength of its big-play capabilities on offense and special teams, but struggled to get much of anything going against Pendleton's 4-3 defense.
The Falcons generated only 82 yards of total offense in the first half, 171 yards total offense for the game, and it marked the first time they had been shutout since a 35-0 loss to Estacada in 2003.
"Pendleton was physical and their linebackers were overly aggressive," La Salle coach Aaron Hazel said. "We just haven't see a team that brings that much pressure at you. And we're young up front, so that got into some of our guys' heads and I don't think we responded very well."
La Salle Prep had only a handful of big plays in the first half — a 20-yard run by Brody Crowley on the game's opening drive, a 41-yard pass from Ryan Rosumny to Riley Peterson on the second possession, and an 18-yard pass from Rosumny to Ryan Bjorvik with seven minutes left in the second quarter.
The Falcons crossed midfield six times and drove inside the Pendleton 40 on four different occasions, but each time they were in scoring position, they either had a turnover or turned the ball over on downs.
And although La Salle's offense had seven plays that went for 10 yards or more, Pendleton's defense had 17 tackles for loss, including six sacks.
"That's all about preparation," Davis said when asked about what got into Pendleton's defense. "We watched a ton of film. Our defensive coordination and defensive line coach made some tremendous adjustments to some of La Salle's motions, because they do move kids around and they do have some speed. But we were able to neutralize that with our linebackers.
"One of the things we harp on is that the things you can control are your reparation, your effort, and your attitude, and I think all of those things were right tonight."
One of the first turning points in the game came with less than a minute remaining in the first quarter when La Salle shanked an 11-yard punt into the wind and Pendleton took over at the Falcons' 18-yard line.
The Buckaroos then went on a six-play scoring driving, taking a 6-0 lead when Sweek floated a 3-yard touchdown pass to Kyle Liscom with 10:20 to play in the second quarter.
Later in the quarter, La Salle again went into punt formation and was facing fourth and 16 at its own 49-yard line when a poor snap turned into a 14-yard loss, giving the Buckaroos the ball at the Falcons' 35.
Five plays later, Bane scored on an 11-yard run and Nat Hunasaker caught q a pass from Sweek for the two-point conversion to make it 14-0 with 1:53 remaining in the first half.
The teams exchanged turnovers on the first two drives on the second half before Pendleton went on a five-play, 87-yard touchdown drive that ended with Liscom scoring on a 21-yard over left tackle. The Buckaroos again went for two but were stopped short of the end zone, leaving the score at 20-0 with 8:34 to play in the third quarter.
Pendleton then added touchdowns on each of its next two drives in the third quarter. Ty Patrick scored on a 40-yard pass from Sweek with 4:02 to play, and then Bane scored on a 5-yard run and Sweek ran for the two-point conversion to push the lead to 34-0 with 2:01 left.
"I thought we had a pretty good plan defensively and we were messing with Pendleton a little bit the first half," Hazel said. "But the we gave them the ball in good field position with the blocked punt and the fumbled snap on the next punt.
"Our defense played lights out the first half, and then midway through the third quarter we got in a situation where we had to become more one-dimensional and throw the ball on offense, which almost always favors to other team's defense."
La Salle finished with 137 yards passing and 22 yards rushing for 159 yards total offense. The Falcons also were without senior running back JaJuan Lane, who missed his second consecutive game while recovering from injuries sustained in a car accident.
"JaJuan would have helped us tonight with his ability to run downhill," Hazel said. "Pendleton put seven or eight guys in the box and just dared us to throw it, and we just didn't execute very well."
Rosumny completed 11 of 25 passes with three interceptions, while Crowley finished with 10 carries for 34 yards, and Menor added 13 carries for 18 yards.
"It was a tough loss," Menor said. "It was really hard for us to run the ball. We had to rely on our pass and … it was pretty tough. I wish we could have put a couple on the scoreboard, but that happens at times, even for the best of athletes."
PENDLETON 0 14 30 0 — 34
P — Kyle Liscom 3 pass from Tanner Sweek (kick failed)
P — Zaanan Bane 11 run (Nat Hunsaker pass from Cooper Roberts)
P — Liscom 20 run (run failed)
P — Ty Patrick 40 pass from Sweek (pass failed)
P — Bane 5 run (Sweek run)
By Jim Beseda
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