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The Rams break open a tight game with a big second-half advantage, win MHC title.

PMG PHOTO: MILES VANCE - Central Catholic sophomore quarterback Cru Newman looks for room to operate during his team's 38-20 win over Clackamas at Hillsboro Stadium on Friday, Oct. 29.Two teams.

Two unbeaten records.

Sixteen wins and no losses — but just one league title.

In the end, something had to give so the No. 1 Central Catholic football team made sure the numbers added up right in its 38-20 win over No. 4 Clackamas at Hillsboro Stadium on Friday, Oct. 29.

"It's what we've been practicing for all week and what we've been practicing for all season," said Central Catholic senior running back Ellis Bynum, who finished with 16 carries for 138 yards and one touchdown, and five catches for 65 yards and another TD. "This is a great momentum builder."

"We took the time, we prepared heavily and my team just executed very well," said senior tight end/linebacker Emar'rion Winston, who helped hold the Cavaliers to a single touchdown until Clackamas scored twice in the game's final 2 minutes, 29 seconds. "My offense did what they were supposed to do, the defense did what they were supposed to do, and we all became a well-rounded team and did everything that we needed to do to get the win."

With the victory — the Rams' ninth straight — Central Catholic won the Mt. Hood Conference title at 8-0 and improved to 10-0 overall (including one forfeit). Clackamas, meanwhile, lost for the first time, saw its seven-game winning streak snapped and fell to 7-1 in MHC play and 9-1 overall (including two forfeits).

"There were ups and downs on offense, but I don't think we should have let it get to us," said Clackamas junior running back Luke Ash, who carried 15 times for 153 yards and also caught two passes for another 37 yards. "They're a good football team, we are a good football team — there's no doubt in my mind that we will see them again. I feel like we will."

"I think we took it for granted. We were just in our heads and we let the 'down' plays affect us," added senior wide receiver K.J. Johnson-Gibson, who finished with six catches for 170 yards and two touchdowns. "I think we bounced back pretty well, but not fast enough. That's why it ended this way."

Central Catholic 38, Clackamas 20

The Cavaliers looked like they held the upper hand early Friday, with their defense forcing a quick three-and-out on the Rams' first series, then getting a 68-yard Ash run to the Central Catholic 5-yard line on first down.

But it all went wrong from there for the Cavaliers. They committed three penalties in a row, and even after the Rams gave back 13 yards with a miscue of their own, Clackamas fell short on a fourth-and-goal carry from the four by junior Mateo Maehara.

After two failed possessions by each team left the game tied 0-0 at the end of the first quarter, the Rams pushed ahead on the third play of the second period. There, sophomore quarterback Cru Newman hit junior wide receiver Riley Williams on the left sideline and Williams turned his catch into a 75-yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead.

Two series later, the Cavaliers drove 72 yards in just five plays to tie the score at 7-7, with junior quarterback Blake Baker hitting Johnson-Gibson for 48 yards, and three plays later, senior running back Brody Crowley banging into the end zone from four yards out with 3:28 left in the half.

It looked for all the world like the two teams would go into the half at 7-7, but the Rams had other ideas. After getting the ball back at their own 20, they got a 20-yard completion from Newman to Williams, two passes to Bynum for 28 more, and with six seconds left in the half, a 38-yard Newman strike to Williams at the right flag for a 14-7 lead at the break.

The Rams took that momentum and built on it in the second half, holding the Cavaliers scoreless for a span of 24:59 and giving their offense all the time it needed to take control.

They added to their lead with an 85-yard march in the third quarter that took 10 plays and almost five minutes, a drive highlighted by Bynum's six carries for 65 yards, including a 29-yard TD burst that extended his team's lead to 21-7 with 5:13 to go in the period.

Then, after another stop by the Rams' "D," Central Catholic boosted its lead to 28-7 when it drove 61 yards to score in five minutes, a series capped by Newman's throw to Bynum on the right side that Bynum scooped off his shoe tops and turned into a 24-yard score with 10:07 left to play.

After another Clackamas drive failed to produce, Central Catholic added a 40-yard field goal by senior Asher Wajskol — he also hit five straight PATs in the game — for a 31-7 lead with 6:38 to play.

The Cavs punted again after just three plays and the Rams added their final score just 2:18 later when Newman ran a draw up the middle and scored from 17 yards for a 38-7 edge with just 3:43 left to play.

To their great credit, Clackamas kept playing hard and scored twice in the game's final 2:29, with Baker hitting Johnson-Gibson for a 46-yard TD, and then with just one second left, sophomore Hudson Normand connecting with Johnson-Gibson for a 31-yard score.

After their win, the Rams said that settling down and just playing was key to their success.

"We really just relaxed," Bynum said. "Coach (Steve) Pine was talking about relaxing the whole time, and that the first team that relaxes wins. We kind of just went into the locker room and said 'relax' and we came out and won."

For their part, the Cavaliers said they would use their Friday loss as motivation for the weeks to come.

"I'm telling you right now, we're coming off a loss to a team we hate, but these next weeks are going to be huge for us," Ash said. "It sucks to lose the league title, but we're a hungry football team. We're not going to quit. We're not going to quit."

For the game, Newman went 17 of 23 passing for 270 yards and three TDs, with Williams catching five passes for 146 yards. For Clackamas, Baker hit just 9 of 25 passes for 195 yards and one score.

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