BATTLE GROUND — A year ago, Battle Ground kicked off its first winning season in nine years by traveling to Longview and knocking off 2A power R.A. Long.
On Friday night, the Lumberjacks returned the favor.
R.A. Long rode some big special teams plays and a 242-yard rushing night from senior Jacob Yordy to a 49-28 victory over the Tigers in the season opener for both teams at District Stadium.
“We’re young and we’re starting over a bit,” said Battle Ground coach Larry Peck, whose team went 5-4 a year ago. “But all in all, I thought the kids battled pretty well. Other than a few big plays, we were able to stop them. But those plays are going to keep me up all week.”
Peck also will have a few nightmares of how Yordy, a 5-foot-9, 180-pound speedster who ran for four touchdowns — including a 74-yarder on the third play of the game and a 50-yarder to open the second half — and also returned a kickoff 88 yards for another score.
“It feels good to come down to their place and take it back at them,” said Yordy, who finished with 356 all-purpose yards. “I’m happy to say my line did great tonight. I felt like our line totally annihilated them. That’s why I had a good game.”
Still, the Tigers matched the Lumberjacks blow for blow for most of three quarters, shrugging off a slow start as quarterback Colston Vukanovich got into a rhythm with a mostly new receiving corps.
After ending the first quarter with an interception, Vukanovich completed his next six passes, including a pair of TD passes to senior Josh Lemar. The second, in which Lemar outbattled Jose Hinojosa for a 17-yard score, drew the Tigers within 21-14 at halftime.
“I thought it was good for us to face adversity like that tonight,” said Vukanovich, who finished 23-for-39 passing for 315 yards, three TDs and three interceptions. “I think it will make us better over the course of the season.”
The Tigers answered Yordy’s opening TD of the third quarter with a quick drive of their own, capped by Vukanovich dancing through traffic for a 26-yard TD run that cut the deficit to 28-21 with 8:12 left in the third.
But then Brandon Ziegler returned the ensuing kickoff 69 yards to the Tigers 4, and Yordy plunged over the goal line on the next play.
RAL put the game away with another pair of big special teams plays — a 56-yard punt that pinned the Tigers deep, and following a three-and-out, a 19-yard Yordy punt return that gave the Jacks the ball at the BG 15.
Three plays later, Ryan Geier caught his first career TD pass with 1:32 left in the third, giving RAL a 42-21 lead.
“We have no reason to hang our heads,” said Peck, whose team plays intracity rival Prairie next week. “The great thing about football is that every week, you get a chance at redemption.”
R.A. LONG 49, BATTLE GROUND 28
R.A. Long 14 7 21 7–49
Battle Ground 0 14 7 7–28
RAL — Jacob Yordy 74 run (Raul Balbuena kick)
RAL — Brady Hulings 13 pass from Ryan Peerboom (Balbuena kick)
BG — Josh Lemar 40 pass from Colston Vukanovich (Riley Betcher kick)
RAL — Yordy 88 kickoff return (Balbuena kick)
BG — Lemar 17 pass from Vukanovich (Betcher kick)
RAL — Yordy 50 run (Balbuena kick)
BG — Vukanovich 26 run (Betcher kick)
RAL — Yordy 4 run (Balbuena kick)
RAL — Ryan Geier 10 pass from Peerboom (Balbuena kick)
BG — Hayden Humphrey 33 pass from Vukanovich (Betcher kick)
RAL — Yordy 2 run (Balbuena kick)
RUSHING — RAL: Yordy 30-242, Peerboom 6-20, Austin Darnell 4-8, team 1-(minus 1). BG: Vukanovich 16-65, Justin Smalley 1-16, Kaden Grody 1-(-9), team 1-(-16).
PASSING — RAL: Peerboom 9-16-0-82. BG: Vukanovich 23-39-3-315.
RECEIVING — RAL: Hulings 3-51, Yordy 2-7, Lamar Swagerty 2-6, Geier 1-10, Jose Hinojosa 1-8. BG: Humphrey 7-98, Parker Randle 5-70, Lemar 4-75, Chris Waters 3-20, Smalley 2-24, Colby Cahoon 1-23, Grody 1-5.