Vikings get a big road win

PSU defense forces three turnovers in 30-17 win at Weber State
Oct. 25, 2014

OGDEN, Utah - Portland State finally put together a game it has been worthy of playing all season and dominated Weber State, 30-17, Saturday at Stewart Stadium.

The Viking defense forced three turnovers and made two fourth-down stops of the Wildcats’ offense. PSU’s running game led a 475-yard offensive effort. And, Jonathan Gonzales added three more field goal to complete an all-around victory.

With the win, PSU improved to 3-5 on the season, 2-2 in the Big Sky. Weber State dropped to 0-8, 0-4.

“It was a solid win, a team win in the end,” said Viking Coach Nigel Burton.

The difference in the game for the Vikings after two close losses the last two weeks?

“Takeaways, strictly the takeaways,” said Burton. “We ended drives (by Weber State). Fourth-down stops count as takeaways as well. And we protected the football ourselves. We didn’t lay it down in crucial situations and that was a win.”

Portland State mixed up the running game, with wide receiver fly sweeps, quarterback option runs and the usual array of running back carries, gaining 303 yards on 62 totes.

The Vikings put a crooked number on the scoreboard first when wide receiver Darnell Adams caught a pass tipped by a Weber State defender in the back of the endzone. The 24-yard completion from Kieran McDonagh to Adams gave PSU a 7-0 lead at the 4:40 mark of the first quarter.

Weber State used a trick play to tie the game late in the quarter. Wide receiver Shaydon Kehano threw a 20-yard scoring pass to quarterback Jadrian Clark on a double-reverse play.

Kicker Jonathan Gonzales got the lead back for PSU with a 41-yard field goal early in the second quarter. Later in the period, cornerback Xavier Coleman picked off a Clark pass. Seven plays later Gonzales added a 45-yard field goal, and the Vikings led 13-7 at halftime.

A second Wildcat turnover to open the second half led to another Viking score. In the series, Kasey Closs carried twice on fly sweeps for 14 yards, then caught a 22-yard touchdown pass from McDonagh. Suddenly Portland State led 20-7 early in the third quarter.

Jonathan Gonzales extended the Viking lead to 23-10 with a short 18-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter. But Wildcat Billy Green, who came in in relief at quarterback, quickly engineered a seven-play, 75-yard drive, all through the air. His 36-yard touchdown pass to Darryl Denby closed the margin to 23-17.

Portland State had the clincher though, with an eight-play, 66-yard drive late in the contest. McDonagh’s eight-yard touchdown run with 2:25 to play iced the contest.

Steven Long led the ground game again, carrying 21 times for 118 yards. McDonagh added 62 yards and a score on 17 carries. He completed 14-23 passes for 172 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.

Jeremy Lutali led the defense with eight tackles, including one for loss. Aaron Sibley had seven stops. Darien Washingtonmade a fumble recovery and Chevy Walker added a key fourth-quarter interception.

Raiders, Colts head for title game

Portland, South King County will both play for their first title Saturday
July 21, 2014 / By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports Journal

The Pacific Football League will crown a new champion when the South King County Colts meet the Portland Raiders Saturday at Oregon City's Pioneer Stadium, although one of the teams features a roster of players from the 2012 champions.

The Raiders will head into the game with quarterback Russell Schnieder at the helm and coach Aaron Fentress on the sideline - both key figures in the Portland Monarchs' title run two seasons ago. They've guided the Raiders to the Souther Division title and a pair of playoff wins, including Saturday's 41-20 victory over the Monarchs. Schneider threw five touchdown passes as the Raiders built a 41-6 lead through three quarters.

South King County reached its first title game with a 22-16 win over the Seattle Stallions Saturday. Teams from the Northern Division have won two of the three previous league title games.

Saturday's game will be webcast live through Ustream and, with coverage beginning at 6:50 p.m. has covered the championship game the previous three seasons.

Members of the broadcast crew have yet to be named.

Fentress and Schneider were key figures in the Oregon Football League championship game of 2010, when the Monarchs defeated the Umpqua Valley Knights. In 2011, though, the Monarchs fell to the Southern Oregon Renegades in the playoffs. The Kitsap County Bears beat the Renegades in the inaugural title game.

The Monarchs claimed the title with a victory over the Bellingham Bulldogs, who won the title last year when the Monarchs were upset by the South Lane County Buzzards in the Southern Division final. Fentress and Schneider moved to the Raiders prior to this season.

The Raiders finished the regular season at 7-1, and beat the Yakima Mavericks and Monarchs in th playoffs. Their lone loss of the season was at South Lane County, 10-7.

The Colts went 6-2 during the regular season in the highly competitive Northern Division, then beat the Renegades and Stallions for their spot in the title game.





Live streaming video by Ustream

Thunder continues franchise prep

The AFL heads to its 27th season this weekend, with Portland included
March 11, 2014

Indoor football returns after more than a decade off, beginning  Monday night.

The Portland Thunder kickoff their inaugural season against the San Jose Sabercats at 7 p.m. in the Moda Center, with grand expectations of fan excitement.

Of course, fan excitement is what indoor football is all about.

The Arena Football League enters its 27th season Friday with 14 teams, including the expansion LA KISS. The Thunder are a franchise that moved from Milwaukee, Wisc., by owner Terry Emmert.

Portland will play an 18-game schedule that ends July 26 with a home game against the Spokane Shock.

The Thunder's roster includes six players from Oregon colleges, including Darron Thomas, who led the Ducks to the 2011 NCAA Championship game.

Tampa Bay plays host to New Orleans in the league's season opener Friday night. The Arizona Rattlers begin play Saturday as the two-time defending league champions. They play host to Philadelphia, the league runner-up the past two seasons.



FSU represents for the football world

Seminoles win an exciting title game, Oregon dreams of Ducks, Blazers
Jan. 6, 2014 / Staff

Auburn might not have been able to pull off another miracle finish, but the Tigers helped Florida State into a worthy national champion following a 34-31 win by the Seminoles Monday.

The game was exciting, and didn't involve any crowd shots of any player's partners, which made it a really great game.

And, of course, it's not the end of football season as there's still plenty of NFL action left.

That's the storyline for the first episode of Sportsland, Oregon, recorded at Blitz Pearl in Northwest Portland Monday night.

Cast members Cliff Pfenning and Marlon Thomas talk up the thriling nature of the college title game and where Oregon might be as the 2014 season unofficially began with FSU breaking the seven-year run of titles by the SEC.

The Blazers keep earning solid wins, but their recent lack of domination has the cast poking around for what they might be needing as trade/free agency talk begins to affect the league as the year progresses. Now that Portland is a quality team, what's the affect of proposed player movement going to be on the team?

It's all recorded at Blitz Pearl in Northwest Portland, with the first episode joined by guests Mike Stasiak and Ben Hamblen, who provide an Eastern View of the Oregon drama.

How about those Viks?

Tue, 12/03/2013 - 3:11pm
Cliff Pfenning
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Last seen: 11 hours 53 min ago
Joined: 2010-07-01

With the college football regular season winding down, and all the NCAA Div. 1 schools having the week off, a brief look at the seasons for Oregon, Oregon State and Portland State (yes, they're Div. 1) shows that a review of the three head coaches might show that ... Portland State's Nigel Burton should be the Coach of the Year.

Portland State finished only 6-6 in the Big Sky Conference, and didn't reach the FCS playoffs, but Burton's work of getting his team to that record puts his job performance slightly ahead of Oregon coach Mark Helfrich, and OSU's Mike Riley.

In Helfrich's first year, Oregon finished 10-2, a record that's a major disappointment for fans.

Riley, in his 13th season, guided the Beavers to a 6-6 record, which got them bowl eligible - a worthy season for fans in Corvallis every year. But, the Beavs lost their last five games after giving their nation time to whisper those magic words: "Rose Bowl." Not this season.

What puts Burton's Viks ahead of the Ducks and Beavers is their play at the end of the season, especially in their final game. Playing at No. 3 Eastern Washington, the Vikings nearly pulled off what might have been the program's greatest upset in Big Sky Conference play before losing by a missed extra point in the closing minutes, 42-41. That loss came a week after a 43-42 loss to Sacramento State at Jeld-Wen Field in which they gave up two scores in the final nine minutes.

The Viks finished their Big Sky season at 3-5, having beaten the three teams that finished under them in the standings. Four of the team's conference losses were by a combined 16 points. Only Montana, which headed to the FCS playoffs ranked No. 10, blew out the Vikings - on the road - 55-27.

Oregon finished 10-2 and is likely headed for a bowl game that will attract a smile or two from those fans unhappy with the team not getting to the national championship game. If Oregon won't play for the title, or even for the Rose Bowl, it better face a quality opponent in a bowl game. If they take on Oklahoma in the Alamo Bowl, that'll be the case.

Although Oregon's Mark Helfrich guided his team to a better record than PSU, the Ducks took a heavy beating with video from the sidelines showing simple desperation during the Stanford loss, and crazy quotes such as not caring about playing in the Rose Bowl as they had "already been there." The Rose Bowl comments came up time and again during a all-out spanking from Arizona in Week 11.

Riley got his team recovered from a season-opening loss at home to Eastern Washington to a 6-1 record heading into a home game with Stanford. Even though the Beavers seemed to outplay the Cardinal for significant parts of the game, they still managed to lose, starting a slide that included trailing Washington 48-0 ... at home ... in Week 11.

Burton hasn't gotten the Vikings over the hump of reaching the FCS playoffs, but there at least was plenty of fight in the team that can be spun in many positive ways - and Denver tight end Julius Thomas' development in the pro ranks can only help.





West Albany scores big in 5A finale

The Bulldogs stiffle Sherwood's explosive offense and win 21-20 in overtime
Nov. 30, 2013 / By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports Journal

HILLSBORO - After diving across the goal line for the tying score in the Class 5A final Saturday night, West Albany senior Jake LaCoste decided not to watch the extra point attempt - the kick that would propel him and fellow seniors into school lore.

"I didn't want to look," he said afterward, "so I just listened."

Senior Matt Wiest sent the kick through the uprights and the second-seeded Bulldogs beat top seed and defending champion Sherwood, 21-20, on a glorious fall evening.

LaCoste ran for 105 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries, and the team defense held Sherwood to its season-low in points on the way to the school's third title in seven years. For the seniors, though, it brought the program back to where it was prior to 2010, when the Bulldogs missed the state playoffs entirely.

Sherwood, which beat West Albany 48-0 in Week 2, lost in the final for the second time in three seasons - having lost to Mountain View of Bend 14-13 in 2011. The previous year, the Bowmen beat Marist 26-23 in overtime in the final. Sherwood beat Marist 46-20 in the final last season.

Both West Albany and Sherood finished 12-1, with the loss to the other school. Both programs will move to Class 6A next year.

Sherwood senior Keegan Lawrence ran for 162 yards and two touchdowns, and also caught a touchdown pass. But he lost a fumble inside the Bulldogs' 10 in the closing moments of the game, which then went to overtime tied at 14-all.

Sherwood scored first in overtime on a 15-yard run by Lawrence, but the extra-point attempt didn't get across the offensive line, which allowed West Albany to jump at the opportunity to end the game with a touchdown and extra point.




Bellingham flies to PFL title

First-half passing explosion leads to 40-7 win over South Lane
July 27, 2013 / By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports Journal

ABERDEEN, Wash. - Bellingham got it right this time.

Inspired by a loss in the PFL title game last year, the Bellingham Bulldogs overwhelmed South Lane County 40-7 and won the league championship Saturday at Stewart Field.

Eric Taylor threw for four touchdowns, including three on the team's opening four drives, and the Bulldogs kept the Buzzards from virtually any offensive movement in the victory.

Bellingham finished the season at 11-2, including three playoff wins away from its home field.

"It's a great feeling to win, especially after last year," Bulldogs coach Brian Young said afterward. "This is the premier league in Washington and Oregon, so it's special to win this title."

South Lane finished at 7-6, but reached the final for the first time after losing in the Southern Division final last season.

The Buzzards, who lost 14-11 at Bellingham in midseason, switched to single coverage on Bellingham's receivers in order to contain Taylor's scrambling skills, but that only kept the fleet, 5-foot-9 quarterback from gaining yards on the ground. Through the air, he picked South Lane apart, beginning with a 22-yard strike to Toby Seim on third-and-goal on the team's first drive.

Taylor capped a 60-yard drive later in the quarter with a 4-yard pass to Seim, then marched the team 60 yards again early in the second quarter, with a 12-yard pass to Nicholas Gavigan leading to a 21-0 edge.

When the Buzards finally switched back to zone coverage, they stopped Taylor and the Belingham offense almost immediately, but could not take advantage with their own offense. The team responded by reaching the Bellingham 6 late in the second quarter, but a fumble on first and goal gave Bellingham the ball back, and running back Brett Hall turned a short gain into an 82-yard scamper for a touchdown and a 28-0 halftime lead.

South Lane scored late in the game - when quarterback Eric Rich connected with Zach Binx from one-yard out. That score came between a pair of Bellingham touchdown passes - Taylor hit Douglas Miller for one, and back-up quarterback Noah Cline hit Gavigan for the other.

Bellingham celebrated the win by honoring Troy Stevenson on its final possession, walking the long-time offensive lineman off the field in his final game after 19 years in the league.


Don't blame the Zebras for a change

Mon, 12/31/2012 - 12:04am
Cliff Pfenning
Cliff Pfenning's picture
Last seen: 11 hours 53 min ago
Joined: 2010-07-01

Everyone's favorite punching bag during a team sport - officials - got plenty of action during the championship season this fall, as they do for any event.

And, they had an effect on the six championship football games, although not what you might expect.

Five of the six games were won by the team that had either more penalties or more penalty yards, including Oakland, which got pummeled for 16 penalties and 119 yards but still beat Portland Christian 50-27 in the Class 2A final.

Lake Oswego lost the 6A final, but had just one - yes one - penalty for five yards.

so, what to make of that?

Fans of the Portland Timbers are continually impressed and incredibly loyal to midfielder Diego Charra, who led the MLS in fouls last year and challenged for the title this year, too - a sign fans promote as his heart showing through to his play.

That work for high school football, too?

Coaches in every sport and at every level want their athletes to lose just a little bit of discipline for a moment of passion, as long as it doesn't affect the outcome of a game. And, this year, you could argue that's what happened.

Here's the numbers:

6A: Sheldon 13, Lake Oswego 6

Sheldon 5 penalties for 43 yards, Lake Oswego 1-5

5A: Sherwood 46, Marist 20

Sherwood 3-20, Marist 3-12

4A: Baker 52, North Bend 22

Baker 11-71, Norh Bend 8-54

3A: Dayton 34, Cascade Christian 28

Cascade Christian 9-87, Dayton 7-55

2A: Oakland 50, Portland Christian 27

Oakland 16-119, Portland Christian 9-41

1A: Camas Valley 24, St. Paul 8

Camas Valley 7-46, St. Paul 5-30


So, here's the real entertaining thing - it happened that way last year, too. In only one of the games did the team that lost have more penalties, or more penalty yardage than the team that won. The only significant difference in the teams was Class 4A, where Siuslaw had a measurable difference and lost by just five points.

Here's the numbers:

6A: Lake Oswego 47, Sheldon 14

Lake Oswego 7-54 yards, Sheldon 4-47

5A: Mountain View 14, Sherwood 13

Mountain View 8-74, Sherwood 2-15

4A: LaSalle 45, Siuslaw 40

Siuslaw 15-113, LaSalle 7-57

3A: Santiam Christian 31, Dayton 28

Santiam Christian 4-31, Dayton 3-26

2A: Gold Beach 30, Scio 0

Scio 7-66, Gold Beach 7-58

1A: Camas Valley 66, Perrydale 22

Camas Valley 6-44, Perrydale 31


Without a lot of penalties the game went quickly, too. The Class 6A final, played Dec. 8, lasted just two hours, 19 minutes, and was held up far more for television timeouts than replaying downs due to penalties.

One penalty for five yards - that's the kind of discipline a coach wants to see at the end of a long season, although ...





Texas holds its ground against Beavers

OSU doesn't trail until the final two minutes of 31-27 loss in the Alamo Bowl
Dec. 29, 2012

SAN ANTONIO, Tex. - A 10-point lead in the fourth quarter wasn't enough to stop an inspired effort from the Texas Longhorns, who rallied to beat Oregon State 31-27 in the Alamo Bowl Saturday at the Alamodome.

The Beavers, who entered ranked No. 15 in the nation, got 118 yards and pair of touchdowns from Storm Woods and a pair of field goals from Trevor Romaine, but couldn't sustain a drive when needed and missed their chance at a 10-win season.

David Ash threw a 36-yard touchdown pass to Marquise Goodwin with 2:24 left in the game for the go-ahead points, completing the comeback from a 27-17 deficit.

OSU earned the lead on a two-yard run by Woods with nine seconds left in the third quarter.

The Beavers finished at 9-4 on the year, after winning their first six games and reaching No. 8 in the BCS Rankings. Three of the four losses were by four points or less.

OSU quarterback Cody Vaz threw for 194 yards, but was intercepted twice and lost 81 yards to the Texas defensive pressure.


Sheldon finally gets over LO hurdle

Irish edge the Lakers 13-6 in defensive showdown for 6A football title
Dec. 8, 2012 / By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports Journal

After two season of misery at the hands and feet of the Lake Oswego Lakers, the Sheldon Irish got some vengeance at the best possible time - with the state championship on the line.

With a pair of field goals by kicker Nathan Starnes providing the scoring difference, Sheldon avenged last season's loss in the title game with a 13-6 victory at Jeld-Wen Field Saturday afternoon.

Sheldon's defense stymied the Lake Oswego offense throughout the game other than a 12-yard scoring drive set-up by a fumble that gave the Lakers a 6-3 lead when the point-after was blocked. Sheldon responded with a 75-yard scoring drive of its own to take a 10-6 lead when Connor Strahm ran in from a yard out and Starnes hit the extra point.

Starnes added another kick just moments later and the Irish held on defense - ending the game with five turnovers - for the schools fourth title since 2002.

Sheldon finished 14-0, while Lake Oswego finished 13-1.

The Irish have lost just twice in the past to seasons - both to Lake Oswego in the playoffs.

"They ended our season im misery the last two seasons, so it's nice to get back at them this year," Sheldon junior Tanner Davis said. 

Both teams moved the ball offensively, but with only the one sustained drive for a touchdown. Starnes' field goals were from 27 and 26 yards, and he missed another short kick that would have made the score 16-6 late in the fourth quarter.

The Irish picked off Lake Oswego quarterback Justen Ruppe four times and held the team to 3 of 10 on third down, and only 1 of 3 on fourth downs.

Sheldon finished with 243 yards of offense on 59 plays, while Lake Oswego had 269 yards on 55 plays.

With only six penalties to slow the game, it lasted just two hours, 19 mninutes, which included stoppages for television breaks.


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