TIGERS BEAT MAC-HI FOR PLAYOFF BERTH

November 06, 2004 12:00 am

MILTON-FREEWATER – For the first time in 13 years, La Grande High School is in the football state playoffs.

The Tigers had tunnel vision the last two weeks of the regular season, needing wins in both games to qualify for the post-season. The goal has been achieved, as La Grande rolled past McLoughlin 28-6 Friday night.

If Central beats Newport in a Val-Co League game today, La Grande will travel to Toledo for a first-round 3A playoff game next Saturday. Nonetheless, the Tigers play the No. 2 team from the Val-Co League, on the road.

La Grande finished third in the Greater Oregon League with a 3-2 mark; the Tigers are 4-5 overall.

In other GOL play Friday, league champion Baker blasted Burns 42-17, and Ontario topped Riverside, 36-12.

Ontario plays at Marist, the No. 3 team from the Sky-Em League, in the playoffs. Baker has a bye and has a second-round home game the weekend of Nov. 19-20.

La Grande had a relentless rushing attack against Mac-Hi, amassing 271 yards. Sophomore Jordan Lanman led the way, carrying 16 times for 136 yards and three touchdowns.

Landon Weaver threw for 122 yards, and Tad Fox had three catches for 89 yards.

Senior Ricky Gloria continued his fine season by intercepting a trio of Wes Walker passes. The stingy Tiger defense, which shut out Burns a game earlier, limited Mac-Hi to 167 total yards – including just 50 on the ground. The defense did not allow a point; Mac-Hi's only touchdown came on a blocked punt.

"The kids played well. They came out and challenged each other during pregame," La Grande head coach Shea Little said.

La Grande had trouble sustaining a drive early in the game, but capitalized on a Mac-Hi miscue midway through the opening period. After the Tigers lost a fumble, Sean Crow recovered a loose ball inside the Pioneer 10-yard line. The ball came loose, but La Grande had it at the Mac-Hi 6. Two plays later, Lanman burst into the end zone. His conversion kick gave the Tigers a 7-0 lead.

On La Grande's next possession, Lanman doubled the La Grande lead by rambling 44 yards for a touchdown and added the extra point.

Mac-Hi got within eight when the Pioneers blocked a punt and Jesse Marshall returned it 34 yards for a touchdown with 7:44 left in the first half. It was 14-6 at halftime.

La Grande went to the air early in the second half as Landon Weaver connected with Tad Fox, who elevated for the catch and took it to the end zone to complete a 59-yard play. Lanman converted and the lead was extended to 21-6.

Weaver had a pass picked off early in the fourth period, but the La Grande defense held. The Tigers then closed the door on Mac-Hi when Lanman raced seven yards for a touchdown with 3:35 remaining in the game. Lanman booted his fourth straight extra point to finish the scoring.

Gloria came up with his second interception of the evening on Mac-Hi's next possession, and had yet another with just over a minute to go.

"It wasn't real emotional at the end of the game," explained Little. "The kids expected to win. Their expectations were there. They really came together as a team."

La Grande 14 0 7 7 – 28

Mac-Hi 0 6 0 0 – 6

LG – Jordan Lanman 6 run (Lanman kick)

LG – Lanman 44 run (Lanman kick)

M-H – Jesse Marshall 34 blocked punt return (kick failed)

LG – Tad Fox 59 pass from Landon Weaver (Lanman kick)

LG – Lanman 7 run (Lanman kick)

Individual statistics

RUSHING – La Grande, Lanman 16-136, Kelley Burgess 9-22, Sean Crow 5-39, Trent Evins 3-25, Tom McKinney 5-19, KC Harris 1-11, Weaver 5-19. Mac-Hi, Jeff Stallings 14-40, Jake Rowan 3-2, Wayne Williams 2-6, Marshall 1-4, Wes Walker 6-(-21).

PASSING – La Grande, Weaver 9-17-1-122, Evins 1-2-0-26. Mac-Hi, Walker 11-26-3-117.

RECEIVING – Harris 1-9, Fox 3-89, Zac Wilmarth 1-17, Lanman 2-15, Burgess 2-16, Crow 1-2. Mac-Hi, Jake Rowan 5-66, Andy Hetterly 4-74, Joe Payant 2-7.

– Joe Sova

Greater Oregon League

Conf All

*Baker 5-0 8-1

*Ontario 4-1 5-4

*La Grande 3-2 4-5

Mac-Hi 2-3 4-4

Burns 1-4 2-7

Riverside 0-5 3-6

* Clinched state playoff berth

Friday's Scores

La Grande 28, Mac-Hi 6

Baker 42, Burns 17

Ontario 36, Riverside 12

End regular season