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Upstart Dragons no match for Bulldogs

ALBANY — In the first meeting, the Dallas defense didn't allow Jake LaCoste to pop a big one until carry No. 47.

Dallas senior Tim Smothers dives into the end zone for a 29-yard touchdown in the third quarter while being tackled by West Albany's J.T. Valenzuela

Photo by Mark Ylen/for the Itemizer-Observer

Dallas senior Tim Smothers dives into the end zone for a 29-yard touchdown in the third quarter while being tackled by West Albany's J.T. Valenzuela

November 19, 2013

ALBANY — In the first meeting, the Dallas defense didn't allow Jake LaCoste to pop a big one until carry No. 47.

The West Albany High School senior tailback and his offensive line needed about 47 seconds to generate their first explosive play in Friday night's Class 5A state football quarterfinal at Memorial Stadium.

On West Albany's second play from scrimmage, LaCoste broke free for a 63-yard touchdown run to give the host Bulldogs a quick 7-0 advantage. Miscue after miscue haunted the Dragons from there as West downed its Mid-Willamette Conference rival 51-6.

Dallas (8-4) entered the contest on a four-game winning streak after upsetting Hermiston 41-35 in overtime in the Round of 16.

"It's tough because we all know, the team you saw out here tonight, that is not the way we can play," Dallas senior Ryan Spencer said. "We know our level of play is so much higher than that, so that is one of the disappointing things about (this game)."

Four turnovers, a fumble on a fourth down scramble and a botched punt snap put the Dragons in a hole they couldn't climb out of.

West Albany

Photo by Mark Ylen/for the Itemizer-Observer

West Albany's defense had Dallas' potent rushing attack under control, holding the Dragons to 54 rushing yards.

Dallas collected just four first downs in the opening 24 minutes and trailed West Albany (10-1) 35-0 at halftime.

“Sometimes you get into that place where you give up a couple things early and you start forgetting everything you've done the weeks before," Dallas coach Tracy Jackson said. "And that, I think, is what we got ourselves into. It was disappointing."

The mistakes rendered any comeback attempt impossible. So did LaCoste, the MWC offensive player of the year.

Unlike the first matchup on Oct. 10, which the MWC-champion Bulldogs won 14-7, LaCoste and his offensive line were able to create big gainers from the opening whistle.

Coach Tracy Jackson

Photo by Mark Ylen/for the Itemizer-Observer

Coach Tracy Jackson

In the first quarter alone, LaCoste had runs of 63, 33 and 45 yards.

LaCoste didn't break a run of 30-plus yards in his previous matchup against the swarming Dallas defense until his 47th attempt. That carry went for an 83-yard touchdown, putting West on top 14-7 with 1:23 to play.

Dallas defenders Chase Mauk (17) and David Rebischke (23) try and corral West Albany

Photo by Mark Ylen/for the Itemizer-Observer

Dallas defenders Chase Mauk (17) and David Rebischke (23) try and corral West Albany's elusive Jake LaCoste.

LaCoste ended the regular-season meeting with 50 carries for 377 yards and two scores. He had 28 for 295 and four touchdowns Friday night.

"He is just a great player," Dallas senior Tim Smothers said of LaCoste. "He is going to make those plays in high school, college, wherever he goes."

Smothers led the Dragons in rushing (14 carries, 40 yards) and receiving (three catches, 53 yards).

The two-way senior standout got the Dragons on the board in the third quarter, hauling in a 29-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Josh Kibbey. It was the first touchdown yielded by the West defensive starters in six games.

Dallas senior Triston Ringhouse glances at the scoreboard during the final minutes of Friday

Photo by Mark Ylen/for the Itemizer-Observer

Dallas senior Triston Ringhouse glances at the scoreboard during the final minutes of Friday's game.

Kibbey completed 9 of 22 passes for 126 yards and two interceptions.

Spencer had two catches for 48 yards and intercepted West quarterback Cody Lahoda in the second quarter.

The Dragons finish the season with a winning record for the first time since 2007. It was Dallas' first state quarterfinal appearance since 2006.

Jackson, who just completed his second season as Dallas' head coach, is proud of his departing seniors.

“The thing about that group of guys is they were extremely coachable," Jackson said. "They embraced everything we tried to teach them. I can't tell you how much I am going to miss them, but I am grateful for them because they taught our young guys a lot. Those are the kind of guys that are going to make great dads and great husbands. They are just really good men."

Smothers said the team came together during offseason workouts last December.

"The coaches had us in the weight room working hard every day," he said. "I really feel great about this season and how we did. The hard work paid off."

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