Athletic directors at the Class 5A level have proven to be the most invested in controlling their own playoff destiny since a switch to the...
EUGENE — One of Ashland's most electrifying players, Quaid Walters had done just about everything for the Grizzlies heading into Friday's game at Willamette — except get into the end zone.
That changed against the Wolverines, as Walters returned a punt 40 yards for a touchdown and caught a 31-yard pass from Connor Kaegi for another score to help the Grizzlies quickly pull away in a 50-8 Midwestern League rout at Wolverine Stadium.
Kaegi completed 6 of 9 passes for 203 yards and three first-half touchdowns and RJ Atteberry had three catches for 114 yards and two touchdowns. Walters' punt return score is believed to be the first for a Grizzly since 1996 and helped Ashland (5-3, 4-2 MWL) up its season-best winning streak to three games heading into next week's showdown with rival Eagle Point (5-3, 3-3).
"We weren't looking ahead to Eagle Point because we hadn't proved anything on the road yet," Ashland head coach Charlie Hall said. "It was very important for us, and we challenged them to come out with the same intensity and execution that we've demonstrated at home."
Ashland quickly set the tone, converting a fourth down on its opening drive before Kaegi hit Atteberry about 40 yards downfield on what turned out to be a 60-yard touchdown.
Two minutes later, the Grizzlies' defense forced the Wolverines (1-7, 0-6) to punt, and that's when Walters dodged several would-be tacklers on his way to the end zone.
"It was a great run," Hall said. "He set it up really well and pinballed around. That really got us going."
Three minutes later Walters struck again, this time hauling in a 31-yard pass from Kaegi to give the Grizzlies a 22-0 lead with still 4:14 to go in the first quarter.
Ashland ended up outgaining Willamette 431-302, including 317-161 through the air.
"I think their plan was to make us beat them through the air," Hall said, "and (Kaegi) just took advantage of it."
Danial White led the Grizzlies on the ground with 42 yards rushing on seven carries.
EAGLE POINT 35, MARSHFIELD 13 — At Coos Bay, Jakob Combs ran for two third-quarter touchdowns to help Eagle Point pull away after being tied 7-all at halftime in the Midwestern League contest.
Combs, a senior running back, rushed 21 times for 200 yards to lead the potent Eagles' ground attack. Caleb Ash also ran for a pair of touchdowns and picked up 55 yards on 13 attempts.
The Eagles (5-3, 3-3 MWL) gained 364 of their 390 total yards on the ground.
Eagle Point limited winless Marshfield to 155 yards from scrimmage and intercepted two passes. The Eagles had 23 first downs to nine for the Pirates (0-8, 0-6).
ROSEBURG 37, GRANTS PASS 22 — At Grants Pass, Roseburg's Hayden Lent ran for two touchdowns and passed for two in the SWC triumph.
Two of Lent's scoring plays came in the fourth quarter as the Indians (3-5, 2-4 SWC) held off a rally by the Cavemen. He ran for 2 yards and hit Jake Heverly with a pass for 27 yards.
Earlier, Lent ran in from the 24 and found Chandler Haskett on a 20-yard strike.
Grant Pass (3-5, 3-3) trailed 24-0 before Hunter Rich carried in from the 1, then passed to Bracken Sharp for a 34-yard TD. The Cavemen successfully went for two on both PATs to make it 24-16.
Rich had another TD run in the fourth but it wasn't enough to offset Lent's production.