Forced out as the head football coach at Eagle Point High in January, Jacob Schauffler wasn't sure what direction he would go in the early aftermath...
It was a tussle until the end for the North Medford football team, which nearly pulled off a late rally in a seesaw battle with Thurston on Friday at Spiegelberg Stadium.
The Colts, however, denied the Black Tornado a last-gasp drive by converting on a fourth down with less than two minutes to play to survive with a 26-20 Southwest Conference victory.
"Even though we didn't win the game, we feel good we played a full game and I thought we were passionate tonight," said North Medford first-year coach Mike Mitchell.
"We're gonna work hard to get a win next week against South Eugene. These guys need a win. They have worked hard for it."
Evan Hisey carried the load on the ground for the Black Tornado (1-5, 0-4 SWC). He churned out 235 yards on 24 carries and punched in a 3-yard touchdown run in the third quarter that cut Thurston's lead to 19-17.
Kyle Watson later answered with a goal-line TD run late in the third quarter to give the Colts (3-3, 3-1) a 26-17 advantage.
With about four minutes and 30 seconds remaining, North Medford kicker Preston Chachere kicked a 22-yard field goal to trim the margin to 26-20. The field goal was set up by a long pass from quarterback Troy Fowler to Jared Evans.
In an attempt to seal the game by holding onto possession and running out the clock, Thurston's risky fourth-down try paid off after North Medford had taken its final timeout. It was one of two first downs the Colts needed to drain the remaining four minutes left on the clock.
Colts quarterback Cory Weick passed for 265 yards, connecting with Jack Miller 10 times for 139 yards. Thurston's Aaron Downes ran for 86 yards on 23 carries and had two second-quarter touchdowns — the first rushing and the other on a 9-yard pass from Weick.
SHELDON 48, CRATER 0 — At Eugene, top-ranked Sheldon left no doubt who the king of the SWC is in a battle of the remaining unbeatens.
Connor Strahm scored the first three touchdowns for the Irish (6-0, 4-0 SWC), who built a 27-0 halftime lead.
Strahm's scores were on passes of 8 and 10 yards from Taylor Alie and on a 1-yard run.
Alie had a hot hand, completing 25 of 36 passes for 297 yards. He also had TDs of 28 yards to Mitchell Herbert and 8 yards to Mike Ralston.
The Irish racked up 329 of their 478 yards through the air. Strahm had nine catches for 76 yards.
Crater (3-3, 3-1) gained 76 yards on 39 attempts and passed for 46. Carlos Higuera led the Comets on offense with 53 yards rushing. Quarterback Chase Mackey completed 6 of 9 passes for 40 yards.
SOUTH MEDFORD 23, ROSEBURG 22 — At Roseburg, Roseburg failed to score on a two-point conversion trailing by one point with 30 seconds left, and South Medford recovered the Indians' onside kick to win in Southwest Conference action.
Jake Heverly ran in a 3-yard touchdown to draw Roseburg within a point with just seconds to go, but quarterback Hayden Lent could not connect with Arie Yraguen on the ensuing two-point pass attempt.
Quarterback Joe McLaughlin led the Panthers, completing 11 of 16 passes for 114 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for a TD.
The Indians built a 16-0 lead before South rallied. McLaughlin hit Adrian Garcia for a 28-yard strike and then ran in a score. Garcia's 38-yard TD catch in the third quarter gave the Panthers a 20-16 lead.
Christian Bowley rushed for 65 yards on 10 carries and Garcia finished with 97 yards on six receptions for the Panthers (4-2, 2-2 SWC). Garcia also intercepted Lent three times.
Heverly carried the ball 21 times for 141 yards for the Indians (2-4, 1-3).
GRANTS PASS 52, SOUTH EUGENE 7 — At Grants Pass, Anthony Mattie ran for 138 yards and two touchdowns as Grants Pass rolled in the SWC contest.
The Cavemen (3-3, 3-1 SWC) moved into a tie for second place with Crater and Thurston in the conference.
Mattie scored on runs of 4 and 5 yards to give Grants Pass a 14-0 lead after one quarter.
Hunter Rich passed for 164 yards, completing 14 of 23 passes for the Cavemen. He had TD strikes of 9 yards to Jonah Musser and 41 yards to Bracken Sharp. Rich also eclipsed 100 yards rushing, picking up 102 on just seven carries.
Sharp caught seven passes for 105 yards.
MARIST 47, EAGLE POINT 0 — At Eagle Point, Marist quarterback Kamerun Smith threw for 286 yards and four touchdowns and Austin Baird erupted for 142 rushing yards, 119 receiving yards and three TDs in Midwestern League action.
The Spartans (5-1, 4-0 MWL) outgained the Eagles 494-115 and had 12 more first downs than Eagle Point, which trailed 34-0 at halftime.
Jakob Combs had nine carries for 28 yards, while Jorge Quintero completed nine of his 16 pass attempts for 60 yards with two interceptions for the Eagles (3-3, 1-3).