After 25 years, Tigard, Roseburg players still seek perspective on much-debated football final (2023)

As the final seconds ticked off the clock of the 1990 Class 4A football championship game, Tigard quarterback Danny McGinley didn't know how to feel.

He certainly wasn't jubilant. He wasn't quite disappointed. More than anything, McGinley – like many of his Tigard teammates and Roseburg opponents – was dumbfounded.

"People were a little dazed and confused," McGinley said. "It was more a sense of, 'What just happened?'"

"It was kind of like a stunned feeling," Tigard running back Jeremy Asher recalls. "More of a shock of, 'What's going on?'"

Twenty-five years later, McGinley, Asher and others involved in the 1990 final still are seeking perspective on one of the most controversial and debated finishes in Oregon high school football history.

When McGinley threw a 23-yard touchdown pass to Jacob Johnson with four seconds left, and Johnson kicked the extra point to tie the game at 14-14, many of the players and fans – and maybe even some coaches -- believed the game was headed to a Kansas Plan overtime at Civic Stadium.

What many didn't know was that the OSAA did not allow for overtime in football championship games. Hence, for the 16th and last time in a state football final, the teams shared the title. Tigard and Roseburg were co-champions.

"All over the world, I've randomly come across people who are from Oregon, and they remember that team and that game," said Scott Herron, Tigard's center that day. "And it always comes down to the question: 'Why didn't you go for two?' I've just met you, I'm a thousand miles away, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, and somebody asks me, 'Why didn't you go for two?'"

After driving 67 yards in the final minute, Tigard initially felt fortunate to escape with a tie. A photo in The Oregonian from the postgame ceremony showed a beaming Tigard coach Craig Hastin and a sullen Roseburg coach Thurman Bell with their hands on the trophy.

Shortly after the game, though, the co-title began to sink in for the Tigers.

"Riding the bus back, it was pretty somber," Johnson remembers. "It wasn't like anybody was really excited that, 'Hey, we just won a state championship.' It was almost like we lost. Until we got back to Tigard, and there was like a parade. Going down Highway 99, it was kind of like, 'Whoa, do you guys know we didn't win?'"

Roseburg was less than euphoric, too, especially considering the team had finished as state runner-up the three previous seasons.

"Most people on the Roseburg side felt like we lost," said Matt Nelson, a defensive lineman for Roseburg. "There was a lot of crying in the locker room, I can tell you that. It seemed like we had it won."

In 1997, the Class 4A final nearly had the same outcome before McNary kicked a late field goal to beat Beaverton 51-48. That prompted the OSAA to change the rule in Sept. 1998, and a few months later, Ashland beat Roseburg 29-23 in overtime to win the Class 4A title.

For Roseburg coach Thurman Bell, the loss was easier to take than the tie with Tigard.

"You have to (play overtime)," Bell said after the loss to Ashland. "That's the only way, as much as it hurts right now."

The 1990 final stands as the only tie in the distinguished 45-year career of Bell, who retired after this season with 331 wins. Officially, he won four state titles, but he has only three championship rings.

"That's the one I didn't keep the ring from," Bell said. "It's one of those ballgames that stays with you. Do you have three state championships or do you have four? You can't say you have 3 ½, can you?"


No. 2 Roseburg vs. No. 5 Tigard turned out to be a classic finals matchup.

Tigard had three Pacific-10 Conference players in safety Johnson (Oregon) and linebackers Asher (Oregon) and Jason Paloma (Oregon State), as well as defensive back Mike Kinkade, who won a gold medal with USA Baseball and briefly played in the majors with the Mets and Orioles.

Roseburg had two of the state's best players in running back Greg Fogle and linebacker Rich Ruhl, both of whom went on to play at Oregon.

Tigard had never won a title. Roseburg won it in 1961 and under Bell in 1981, but the team had grown frustrated after three consecutive runner-up finishes.

Tigard took a 7-6 lead on one-yard run by McGinley and Johnson's kick with 2:33 left. But when Roseburg pulled ahead 14-7 on an eight-yard touchdown pass from Todd Black to Tate Muir and a two-point conversion run by Fogle with 48 seconds remaining, its players and fans erupted in celebration as a title seemed imminent.

But McGinley drove the Tigers 67 yards on three passes, the final one to Johnson in the back of the end zone, drawing Tigard within 14-13 with four seconds to go. Roseburg's defense braced for a game-deciding two-point try.

"I remember being in the huddle and going, 'OK, they're going to go for two,'" Nelson said. "I remember Rich Ruhl specifically saying, 'OK, we need to rally, because we can still top them and we'll still win.' And then when they ran the extra-point team out, we were all kind of surprised."

Tigard's Herron also assumed a two-point attempt was coming.

"I line up in the huddle to go for two, and everybody does," Herron said. "There wasn't a question about it, we go for two. Then all of the sudden the PAT team comes out on the field, and I'm thinking, 'OK, we go to Kansas Plan.' I went running off the field, and I'm like, 'Awesome, we're going to win this thing in overtime. Good call, good call.'"

The previous season, Tigard had played two overtime games.

"I think it was assumed by all, and definitely by myself, that we were kicking the extra point to go into overtime," McGinley said. "There was no discussion, at least from the players on the field."

Except there would be no overtime. After Johnson made the extra point and Tigard tackled Roseburg on the ensuing kickoff return, the referee blew the final whistle. Game over, 14-14 tie.

"I think we were all in shock," Nelson said.

That included Bell, who was certain that Tigard was going to try some sort of fake when it lined up to kick the extra point.

"I just thought, 'It's gotta be,'" Bell said. "When they kicked the extra point, I'm saying, 'Now, wait a minute, we don't go to overtime now, do we?' I thought I knew the rule, but when they lined up to kick the extra point, I'm wondering, 'Maybe I'm wrong.'"


So everyone wanted to know: Why had Tigard coach Hastin decided to go for the tie and settle for a co-title?

Throughout the game, the Tigers hadn't had much luck converting deep in Roseburg territory. In the first quarter, they went for it on 4th-and-3 at the Roseburg 5 and threw an incomplete pass. They fumbled at the Roseburg 2 in the second quarter. And after reaching the Roseburg 6 in the fourth quarter, they turned it over on downs.

"Before we scored, I talked to one of the coaches and came to the conclusion that if we score, we're going to kick it," Hastin said. "So we scored and we kicked it.

"I felt like we deserved a piece of that. We had driven back and played so hard. I felt the percentages were on their side. They were playing very good run defense. We had run our goal-line pass earlier in the game and it had been unsuccessful. I felt like we had used everything we had down on the goal line."

Hastin had to decide between the near certainty of an extra point – Johnson was 55 of 56 for the season – and rolling the dice. Tigard had a 318-203 edge in total yards, but managed only 48 rushing yards on 28 carries.

"Somebody said, 'Well, why didn't you give it to Asher?'" Hastin said. "Well, we had thrown the ball 36 times for a reason, because they were smacking him."

Hastin came under a tidal wave of criticism for not going for the win. Was it hard for him to deal with it?

"Not at all," said Hastin, who won 202 games in 27 seasons in Oregon before retiring in 2008. "I knew there was commentary that debated that. I just didn't ever think about it again. I was glad for our kids. I felt good about it."

With one championship trophy and one set of first-place medals, the OSAA was caught in an awkward situation in the postgame ceremony. It decided to give the trophy to Tigard and the medals to Roseburg and provide another trophy and medals later.

"I wish we could've had a better celebration at the end of the game," Johnson said. "Neither team got to celebrate. Everybody just kind of walked around, wondering what was going on."

Ruhl remembers that Roseburg players "were bummed."

"Co-state champions just doesn't sit very well," Ruhl said. "It was difficult, for sure. For us being there for the third time in a row, it would've been nice to have a winner and a loser."

Johnson said the reality of the tie didn't hit him until he was on the bus ride home.

"I looked at Jeremy, and he looked at me, and I go, 'I don't really know what to feel. I don't know what just happened,'" Johnson said. "And he goes, 'I know, it's weird.'"

Roseburg had a team celebration at the Fuddrucker's restaurant in Lake Oswego after the game. The mood was less than celebratory.

"Everybody there felt like we lost," Nelson said.


Now, a quarter-century later, the game's outcome still sticks with the players.

Do the Tigers wish they had gone for two?

"Absolutely," McGinley said. "I think if you ask any athlete in that situation, 'Would you have liked to have gone for it? And do you think it would've worked?' Yes and yes."

Johnson said that if he had known that the final didn't have overtime when he lined up to kick the extra point, he and the holder, Gavin Stanley, might have taken matters into their own hands.

"There's no way that Gavin and I wouldn't have looked at each other and said, 'No way. We're going for this,'" Johnson said. "If Hastin would've said, 'Do you want to go for one or go for two?' I don't know anybody that would've said, 'Go for one,' but maybe. And even if we did know and he called to go for one, I don't think we would've went for one. We just as a team probably would've said, 'Let's go for two.'"

The result left Johnson with a disdain for ties of any kind.

"Ever since then, there's no possible way I can watch soccer," Johnson said. "I don't understand how people can play a sport or a game, and just feel complete without a winner and a loser. Kids don't play on the playground and say, 'Oh, it's the last second, we're down by seven, we've got to catch the touchdown and kick an extra point so we can tie it up.'"

Herron, who assisted on Hastin's staff for two seasons and now coaches at Tualatin, said the game has haunted him for years. He remembers how sports radio jockeys blasted Tigard in the week after the game. And shortly after the season, on a recruiting trip to Western Oregon, he got another rude reminder.

"There was a guy there with his daughter, and he found out I was from Tigard, and he said, 'Do you know we spell Tigard in Roseburg? T-I-E-G-A-R-D,'" Herron said.

Herron felt another jab in 2003 when the school invited members of the 1990 team to inspire the Tigers, who were in the midst of a state-championship run.

"We sat there, and the kids were in our face, kind of like, 'Unlike you guys, we're actually going to win the ballgame,'" Herron said. "I'm kind of like, 'Are we the wayward stepchild that time wants to forget?' Even to this day, the school has never celebrated the team. I think sometimes that it's the team that Tigard likes to forget."

The Tigard and Roseburg players who went to the University of Oregon became friends and even roommates. The game became a topic for jokes and trash-talking.

"Everybody was kind of puffing up," Johnson said. "You're talking about it and everybody's looking at us and they're like, 'Well, who won the game?'"

Have the players ever considered getting the teams back together for one two-point try to settle the championship, once and for all?

"Every time I watch Robin Williams in 'The Best of Times,'" said Herron, referring to the football movie. "But I'm like, as the years go on, we'd hurt ourselves if we attempted to do it."

Roseburg's Nelson has two sons that attend Tualatin, Tigard's district rival. The younger one, Nathan, a freshman on the football team, knows he can make his father especially proud by beating the Tigers.

"We've talked about that," Nelson said. "I have a long, deep hatred for Tigard because of the co-championship. I like to see them lose. When they play at Tigard, I see the 1990 banner. My whole family is stoked because Tualatin finally beat Tigard this year."

As Bell looks back on his decorated career, the 1990 state championship game will remain the burr in his saddle. He said he has never discussed the game with Hastin, but he did cross paths with some Tigard coaches at a Mexican restaurant in Portland about 10 years after the game.

"We had a group in there, and they came over to us, and one of them said, 'It wasn't my call,'" Bell said. "I still remember that. It was no big deal. After 10 years, what are you going to do, argue about it?"

The players and coaches are left only with their imaginations about what would have happened on a two-point try.

"When I think about it, with the team we had, how good we were, it would've been nice to give it a shot," Herron said. "But that was a good Roseburg team. And that was 2 ½ yards. I think if we had gone for it, it would've been a classic moment in high school football."

-- Jerry Ulmer


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