All apologies to former South Medford standout Matt Retzlaff, who failed to get the recognition he was due last week after it was, in fact, his...
CENTRAL POINT — Eighteen years later, a win against Roseburg still feels the same for Eric Persson.
The Crater football team composed a 34-14 win over the Indians in their Southwest Conference opener at Dutch Meyer Field, snapping a 13-game losing streak to Roseburg that stretched back to 1994.
The victory seemed as sweet for senior quarterback Chase Mackey as it did for longtime Crater assistant Persson, who was there for the win on Friday night and for the one 18 years ago.
"It feels awesome," said Mackey, who passed for 165 yards and ran for 107 yards and a score. "So uplifting."
Said Persson: "They were both big wins. You've always got to respect Roseburg tremendously."
The triumph held both historic and historical significance for the Comets, who entered the game with an 0-2 record and the aftertaste of a frustrating 30-14 loss to Oregon City still in their mouths.
Crater washed that bitter flavor away fast and furiously.
The Comets, who owned a 14-0 lead by the end of the first quarter, finished with 241 yards rushing and 165 yards passing. Defensively, Crater limited the Indians (1-2) to just 36 yards on the ground and 137 in the air.
Senior running back Ty Wolf and Mackey were dynamite for the Comets, who outgained Roseburg 406-173. Wolf went for 97 yards and three touchdowns on 15 carries and Mackey guided the way by completing 15 of his 22 passing attempts and carrying the ball nine times.
Mackey put the final nail in the coffin when he erupted for a 20-yard TD run on fourth-and-inches with under three minutes left in the contest.
"Their defensive end bit and there was a huge hole," Mackey said. "I thought, 'Why not?' I ran for it."
Crater's RJ Morgan made four catches for 63 yards, including back-to-back grabs for a total of 48 yards in the Comets' second drive of the first quarter. The receptions led to Wolf's fist touchdown.
"To finally beat them our senior year, it is really exciting because they are always good," Morgan said of Roseburg.
Crater got on the board again less than a minute later when Sal Flores recovered a fumbled Roseburg pitch around the Indian 8-yard line. Kory Bennett then bolted eight yards into the end zone on a reverse.
Wolf, Flores, Derek Turituri and Michael Crippen all came up with numerous timely tackles, including several sacks on Roseburg quarterback Hayden Lent, who was 11-for-28 passing.
Hector Villa nearly picked off a Lent pass aimed for the end zone, but his play forced the Indians to turn the ball over on downs in the second period.
Villa's defensive stop led to Crater's most dramatic drive of the night: a 20-yard pass from Mackey to Turituri, a 47-yard run by Mackey and then a 20-yard touchdown carry by Wolf to give the Comets a 21-0 advantage.
Trying to match big plays became a trend for Roseburg, which struggled desperately to catch up.
Thurman Bell, in his 42nd year as Roseburg's head coach, was none too pleased by the latest result in the rivalry.
"They physically whipped us and it is just that simple," Bell said. "That is what it all boils down to."
The outcome was far from perfect for the home team though. Roseburg defensive back Cody Walker recorded three interceptions, including a 57-yard touchdown return, and also recovered a fumble. Additionally, Walker caught a 10-yard strike from Lent after he created the opportunity with one of his picks.
"He had a couple big plays but we didn't have enough of them out there," Bell said.
Also, Crater — which swept Roseburg on all three levels (freshman, junior varsity and varsity) for the first time ever — committed 12 penalties for 110 yards.
"I think we cleaned up some things and we still have a lot to work on like everyone else, but we had a good consistent effort and that was the difference," Crater head coach John Beck said.
Crippen raised his arms and yelled to the Crater faithful, "Let's go, Let's go," in the fading final minutes of his team's crucial victory.
"To know that we proved a lot of people wrong and fought for our community and represented Crater nation good, that really does it for me," Crippen said. "Because that is what it's about. Our school and our community."
Reach reporter Dan Jones at 541-776-4499, or email firstname.lastname@example.org