OREGON CITY - Usually, it's the arm of Russell Schneider that powers the Portland Raiders to victory. Saturday, he used his legs.
Solid defense, opportunistic offense, and a key late-game run by Schneider helped the Raiders beat the South King County Colts 30-27 in the Pacific Football League championship game at Pioneer Stadium.
Schneider threw two touchdown passes in the first half, and saved the game-winning drive with a 34-yard run on third and 8 with under a minute left. The run put the Raiders at the South King 4-yard line and set up kicker Matt Evensen for a 17-yard field goal that broke a 27-all tie with 14.7 seconds remaining.
Schneider scrambled for 17 yards on the previous play to set up the key run.
"They were playing back in pass coverage, and I just found an open space," Schneider said afterward. "I made one guy miss and then I just ran as far as I could."
The title was the first for the Raiders, but second for Schneider, who guided the Portland Monarchs to the league title in 2012.
South King made the game dramatic with a second-half rally from a 24-7 halftime deficit. The Colts tied the game at 24-all, then had a chance to take their first lead with a first down at the Raiders' 11 with under four minutes left, but tossed three incomplete passes and settle for a game-tying field goal.
The Daily World
After running the gauntlet previously in the playoffs, the Bellingham Bulldogs enjoyed smooth sailing in the Pacific Football League championship game.
Eric Taylor passed for 213 yards and four touchdowns as Bellingham captured the PFL title with a 40-7 rout of the South Lane County Buzzards of Springfield, Ore., before a sparse crowd Saturday night at Aberdeen’s Stewart Field.
The PFL North’s third seed entering the playoffs, the Bulldogs had registered road victories over second-seeded Yakima and the top-seeded Seattle Stallions to make it to the title contest. They had lost to the Portland Monarchs in last year’s championship game.
Considering the dominance of the PFL Northern Division this season (North teams had the league’s top four overall records), the lopsided nature of the game was no surprise.
Owning a 297-10 total offense advantage at the half, the Bulldogs could have won even more decisively except for their own mistakes. They committed four turnovers, incurred 144 yards in penalties, took the points from a field goal off the board when a defensive penalty gave them another crack at a touchdown they failed to convert and had a bad snap on another field goal result in a 31-yard loss.
Bellingham’s defense prevented those miscues from being more critical. Controlling the line of scrimmage, the Bulldogs limited the Buzzards to three first downs (one by penalty) in the first three quarters.
Operating from the wildcat formation, Taylor completed 9 of his first 10 passes and also eluded tackles on several Russell Wilson-type scrambles.
He hooked up with Toby Seim on scoring passes of 23 and 4 yards in the first quarter, a 12-yard TD toss to Nicholas Gavigan in the second period and an 11-yard touchdown aerial to Douglas Miller in the fourth quarter.
Gavigan also caught a 39-yard TD pass from reserve quarterback Noah Cline in the fourth quarter.
A pivotal sequence late in the first half ended what passed for suspense.
After linebacker Gary Doughty recovered a Bulldog fumble and quarterback Eric Rich hit Cameron Koeler for a 20-yard gain, the Buzzards — trailing 21-0 — were on the Bellingham 6-yard line in the final 2 1/2 minutes of the half. They fumbled, however, and Bellingham linebacker Stephen Faoro recovered.
Two plays later, running back Brett Hall burst up the middle for a 92-yard touchdown run that gave the Bulldogs a 28-0 lead with 1:49 remaining in the half.
South Lane finally got on the scoreboard on Rich’s 2-yard TD pass to Zach Binx at the 10:06 mark of the fourth quarter.
The often-rancorous contest included 229 yards in penalties and ended with players on each side being ejected for flagrant fouls on the final two plays of the contest.
SL 0 0 0 7 — 7
Bell 14 14 0 12 — 40
First Downs: South Lane 7, Bellingham 16.
Net Rushing: South Lane minus 1, Bellingham 191.
Net Passing: South Lane 101, Bellingham 265
Passing: South Lane 12-25, Bellingham 16-29
Had Intercepted: South Lane 4, Bellingham 2
Fumbles Lost: South Lane 3, Bellingham 2.
Yards Penalized: South Lane 85, Bellingham 144.