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The North Bend Bulldogs and Tigard Tigers.

The Bulldogs via


The 4A Bulldogs climbed into the Oregon state finals for 2014 after their 41-40 squeaker in the semi-finals.

A win is a win, we can all agree, but a one point win isn’t defining any football program as much as it tells who’s in favor with the football gods.

You know the football gods? They’re the entity that snatches victory from defeat one day, and defeat from victory the next.

Players and fans leave those games wondering what happened; what went wrong, and what went right.

Winners always take the win. You can’t give it back, and if you could, the other team wouldn’t want it.

Losers leave the field knowing they were as good as the other guys, just not good enough, and it’ll rub them wrong the rest of their lives.

If that sounds too dramatic, then you haven’t played enough football.

A 41-40 game sounds lucky, but the way it ended sounds more smart than lucky, a testament to good coaching and sharp players.

Take any over-revved baller, give them the rock, and aim them toward the end zone. If they have a chance to score, they will.

Not Luke Lucero. From

“Skittering alongside the goal line for as long as possible, Lucero waited until Mazama defenders closed in on him, and then he fell to the ground. Mazama did not have any timeouts left, and a score in that situation wouldn’t have guaranteed a win. So, Lucero did.

“That was a call from the quarterback, my cousin,” Lucero said about downing the ball at the 1. “That play, he’s like ‘don’t score if they let you score.’ So I break through the line and I’m like ‘oh wait, they’re letting me score.’ So I just kind of stood there and burned out as much clock as I can and then I flopped on the ground.”

Said his cousin, quarterback Cam Lucero: “He wasn’t really sure (what to do). We knew we had to run the clock out and we were up by one. He wasn’t even sure. I ran up and screamed ‘just go down, go down.’”

It had to be a spectacle of opinions from the stands. Why doesn’t he score? What’s he doing? Go in, go in.

But the Bulldogs showed how to close out a close game: Don’t give the other team a chance for the ever dreaded Hail Mary. They don’t always work, but losing that way leaves a stain.

One team allows the other to score in order to get the ball back and win, except the other team doesn’t fall for it. The thrill of victory and agony of defeat doesn’t get much better.

A day earlier the 6A Tigard Tigers faced the Jesuit Crusaders in the state quarterfinals.



It was my first game of the season and the last high school game played played in Tigard.

The rain started early and strong so I layered up thinking if the players can take it so can the fans.

I got to the stadium in time to see the players charge out of the locker room…at halftime. With no rain.

Maybe it was the weather, or the opponents, but the temporary stands were empty, the Jesuit side was sparsely populated, and the mood too subdued for such a big game on the home turf.

Instead of the overflow crowd of former Big Games, this group seemed withdrawn as if the results were already in the mail.

Jesuit wins a lot of games and they were ahead in this one. They’d probably play it out and move on to the semi-finals.

Then a funny thing happened. Tigard forgot to roll over and the crowd pumped to life.

Regulation time ended in a tie. The first overtime ended in a tie. So did the second.

All overtimes played out on the opposite end of the field from the scoreboard, which was my spot.

The double reverse that scored the Jesuit touchdown in the third overtime? Didn’t see the details but heard the crowd response.

I did see the extra point go wide.

The Tigers scored their final overtime touchdown and got set to ice the game with an extra point.

It was up and good, but wait, a whistle. Someone on the Jesuit side had lined up in the neutral zone. The kick didn’t count and had to be played again.

So I’m clear across the field, a hundred yards away, hearing the only thing Jesuit had left in their season. The score tied with no timeouts. What do you do?

It’s a small detail, like Luke Lucero from North Bend avoiding the score that would have given his opponents another chance.

If football is a game of inches, then it’s also a game of degrees. Smart coaches know how to wring the very last bit of football out of each game. Sometimes it happens early, sometimes late.

This one was three overtimes late.

Think of how teams ice the kickers on last second field goals with a well placed timeout. Give a pressure packed moment a little more time. Time for doubt, time for the haunt to creep up, time to remember the last choke.

Tigard’s Garrick Gargurevich remembered what he’d just done instead and kicked another extra point. The crowd rushed the field on the hop and kept hopping.

In two days my two high school teams, one I played on, the other my kids played on, each scored one point wins with unusual last minute plays.

Who could ask for more? We watch games, listen to them on the radio, always waiting for the defining moment when the football gods anoint their favorites.

Last weekend North Bend and Tigard earned victories in spite of their opponents’ crafty plans.

The gods were smiling.




About David Gillaspie
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