Summit had a few more playmakers than Wilsonville did Friday night in a rain-soaked OSAA Class 5A state championship football game at Hillsboro Stadium.
Ethan Carlson scored three touchdowns — two on long passes from quarterback Hogan Carmichael, one on a 48-yard punt return — and Sam Stephens rushed for 245 yards and another score on 39 carries, lifting the Storm to a state title with a 35-28 triumph over the Wildcats.
“We put it out there at the beginning of the season that there was one way to end this season, and that was with a win in Hillsboro,” said Summit coach Corben Hyatt, whose team returned to Class 5A after reaching the Class 6A quarterfinals last season. “I’m proud of the boys.”
Carlson’s third touchdown proved to be the game-winner. With Summit (12-1) leading by a touchdown in the fourth quarter, Carmichael found his fellow senior in the right side of the end zone for a 35-yard score, helping widen the Storm’s lead to 35-21 with three minutes and nine seconds remaining.
Whenever Summit needed someone to swing the game’s momentum in its favor, Carlson was often the one to do it. With the Storm clinging tightly to a 14-13 lead late in the third quarter, Carlson fielded a punt just inside Wilsonville territory and returned it 48 yards up the left sideline for a score.
“It was seven yards in front of me, and I got a decent bounce,” Carlson said. “I just picked it up and ran. My blockers did a great job. I didn’t even hardly have to move and I was able to run it in.”
Receiving-wise, Carlson finished with six catches for 106 yards, making him one of two Summit receivers with 100-yard games. The other was senior Charles Ozolin, who caught eight passes for 131 yards and a first-quarter touchdown, a 42-yarder that cut Wilsonville’s early 13-0 lead roughly in half.
Together, Carlson and Ozolin combined for more than half of Carmichael’s 259 yards through the air on 17-of-26 passing.
It was Stephens, though, who proved to be perhaps the biggest difference-maker for the Storm. The junior running back rushed for 180 of his 245 yards after halftime, scoring on an 18-yard run in the fourth quarter that put Summit ahead to stay.
Stephens was quick to credit his offensive line, which consisted of tackles Hank Brundage and Braden Bailey, guards Spencer Elliott and Zach High, and senior center Carter Nelson.
“Those guys open huge holes, and I’m a little guy, so that makes it easy,” the 5-foot-8, 155-pound Stephens said. “I was getting eight to 10 yards a carry. I wanted the rock. I wanted them to keep feeding me, because it was working.”
Wilsonville (11-2), by contrast, was not able to run the ball. The Wildcats finished with just 57 yards on the ground, with 47 of those coming on keepers by junior quarterback Kallen Gutridge.
“Our offensive line wore them down at the end of the game,” Hyatt said.
To its credit, though, despite surrendering its early lead in the second quarter and never moving in front again, Wilsonville stayed hot on Summit’s heels until the end.
Moments after Carlson’s punt return touchdown helped widen Summit’s lead to 21-13, the Wildcats’ Mark Wiepert hit fellow wide receiver Cooper Hiday for a 43-yard pass with 2:53 left to play in the third quarter. It was one of multiple trick plays that Wilsonville attempted throughout the contest.
Wiepert then caught the ensuing two-point conversion pass from Gutridge, knotting the score at 21.
In the fourth quarter, with Wilsonville trailing 35-21, Hiday caught his second touchdown pass of the game, a 50-yarder from Gutridge, to bring the Wildcats back within a touchdown.
“Our guys are resilient,” Wilsonville coach Adam Guenther said. “They never give up.
“When things are down, our guys look at each other and say, ‘Hey, it’s time to go get this back.’ Till the final buzzer runs out, they believe they have a final shot at everything.”
Like Summit, Wilsonville had two 100-yard receivers: Wiepert caught eight passes for 145 yards — most of them in the first half. Hiday, meanwhile, finished with six catches for 125 yards.
Together, they combined for all but seven of Gutridge’s 227 passing yards.
Defensively, Summit managed to get to Gutridge a few times, sacking him three times and pressuring him a few others. The Storm’s biggest defensive play, though, came in the fourth quarter: With Summit having just gone ahead for good at 28-21, Ozolin picked off a long pass from Gutridge at midfield.
Summit then repeatedly ran the ball until Carmichael hit Carlson for the game-winning touchdown on fourth-and-9 from the Wildcats’ 35-yard line, putting the game all but out of Wilsonville’s reach with just more than three minutes to play.
“At the end of the day, they made a few more plays than we did,” Guenther said. “But I’m proud of our boys.”