The Oregon City Pioneers got the early jump on Tigard when they won the coin toss and elected to receive Friday night's opening kickoff.
After that, It was pretty much all Tigers.
Tigard quarterback Drew Carter passed for 179 yards and three first-half touchdowns, and then scored on a 1-yard run in the third quarter, leading the top-ranked Tigers to a 50-13 Three Rivers League romp over the Pioneers at Oregon City's Pioneer Memorial Stadium.
Hunter Gilbert lead Tigard's ground game with 17 carries for 118 yards and two touchdowns to help the Tigers (6-0, 4-0 Three Rivers) all but put the game away before the end of the second quarter as they opened a 43-0 halftime lead.
"It was a great team win, all around," Gilbert said. "We came out and started flying around from the very beginning. I loved how we played tonight.
"We were focused on ourselves, focused on what we had going, and we prepared for Oregon City just like we'd prepare for anyone else. We're playing pretty well, but we have a lot of stuff to work on."
Midway through the third quarter, the game was being played with a running clock when Oregon City's Logan Peyton capped a four-play, 80-yard scoring drive with a 17-yard touchdown run to cut Tigard's lead to 50-7 with just under four minutes to play in the third quarter.
Oregon City's Indy Daniels then scored on an 80-yard punt return in the first minute of the fourth quarter for the Pioneers (1-5, 0-4).
"We just haven't learned how to win against good teams yet," Pioneers coach Dustin Janz said. "We're still allowing little, small things to slip through the cracks.
"We keep fighting and keep working every day at practice and I think it gets marginally better at times. This week, I think we lined up more consistently, the receivers ran their routes more consistently, the balls were there on time more consistently, and we just didn't convert."
Oregon City's game-opening drive set the tone for the Pioneers' offense. Running back Logan Peyton ran for a yard on first down, quarterback Trey Martin missed on a pass intended for wide receiver Brayden Thomas on second down, another Martin pass went in and out of Daniels' hands on third down, and then the Pioneers punted.
The next Oregon City seven drives ended with a punt, an interception, a snap over the punter's head and out of the end zone for a safety, two more punts, an interception return for a touchdown, and another punt, in that order.
"Just poor execution on our part," Janz said. "Our two or three drives, we had wide-open receivers in the middle of the field or down the sideline and maybe could have scored, I don't know, but definitely could have given us better field position and we just dropped the football."
Tigard's defense deserves some credit, too. Oregon City crossed midfield only once in the first half, and that drive ended in disaster when Tigard defensive back Tyler Penn stepped in front of a pass intended for Austin Canchola and scored on a 65-yard interception return, pushing the Tigers lead to 36-0 with 5:41 to play in the second quarter.
"I saw Oregon City was going with short routes," said Penn, who the Tigers typically use on defense in obvious passing situations. "The defensive line had great penetration and I don't think the quarterback even saw me. I just jumped in front of it and was off and running. It was awesome."
The Tigers opened the second half with a nine-play, 68-yard scoring drive that Carter capped with a 1-yard touchdown run to make it 50-0 with 7:39 to play in the third quarter.
At that point, the Tigers turned to their reserves to play out the final 16:21 with a running clock.
Tigard finished with 416 yards total offense, striking a nice balance with 204 yards passing and 212 yards rushing. The Tigers also dominated time of possession by a 32:52 to 15:08 margin and they had 21 first downs to Oregon City's seven.
The only glaring statistics on Tigard's side of the ledger showed nine penalties for 102 yards.
"We came out and we were ready to go, but we were a little sloppy," Tigers coach John Kemper said. "We had way too many penalties. We've got to clean that kind of stuff up. That's going to come back and bit us if we don't get better in that category.
"We want to come out and we want to play our best football for four-plus quarters, each and every week. We're where we need to be right now. We take each week one at a time, keep getting better each and every week, and we've put ourselves in a good position, but we can't be satisfied with that."
Oregon City was limited to 145 yards total offense, with 130 yards coming through the air and only 15 yards on the ground.
"We've been fighting like crazy to find a run game," Janz said. "We still don't have the ability to run the ball as we have in the past, and that really limits what we're trying to accomplish with this offense.
"We have a heckuva quarterback and some good receivers and some good linemen, and the protection was good tonight against a good defense. But, overall, we just didn't make enough plays."
The No. 1-ranked Tigers also deserve some credit for playing the way a No. 1-ranked team is expected to play in all three phases of the game — offense, defense, and special teams.
"Tigard is the best team we've played, no doubt," Janz said. "They're the most complete team we've played all across the board. They've got a great running back, a good quarterback, a helluva group of receivers, they play really hard, they're good up front, and you can't run the ball against them easily. That's a good football team."
TIGARD 16 27 7 0 — 50
OREGON CITY 0 0 7 6 — 13
T — Hunter Gilbert 2 run (Jackson Cleaver kick)
T — Safety, ball snapped out of end zone
T — Gilbert 2 run (Cleaver kick)
T — Keenan Speer-Johnson 33 pass from Drew Carter (Cleaver kick)
T — Max Lenzy 11 pass from Carter (Cleaver kick)
T — Tyler Penn 65 interception return (kick failed)
T — Lenzy 27 pass from Carter (Cleaver kick)
T — Carter 1 run (Cleaver kick)
OC — Logan Peyton 17 run (Indy Daniel kick)
OC — Daniel 80 punt return (kick blocked)
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