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 — South Medford finally fashioned a fantastic finish of its own.
The Panther football team had led at halftime in its first three games, only to be overtaken.
But on Friday in a 32-7 Southwest Conference victory over South Eugene, South Medford cranked up its running game and dominated throughout.
"The team really finished tonight," said Panthers coach Bill Singler, after his team improved to 1-3 overall and 1-1 in the SWC.
"It was a great effort, the kids finally got rewarded," he added. "We lost three tough games the last three weeks, but we came up here in a businesslike manner, controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball and got the job done."
Anthony Gomez ripped off big run after big run, ending up with 160 yards on only six carries. One of them was a 3-yard touchdown in the second quarter, which he set up with a 51-yard run on the previous play, putting the Panthers in front 13-0.
After South Eugene scored on a 19-yard pass from Ray Roundtree to Liam Duncan to cut it to 13-7, Gomez struck again. His 39-yard run set up a 15-yard touchdown pass from Craig Contreras to Mark Winans only 18 seconds before halftime, making it 19-7.
Twice in the second half, the Panthers stopped long drives by the host team at their own 20, then marched the other way for scores.
"I think we're becoming physical, which is good," said Singler. "Gomez and (Josh) Hall were both running the ball extremely well. That opened the passing game for us. We just need to keep plugging away at this stuff. I think we've made major strides the last couple weeks, especially running the ball."
Hall had eight carries for 85 yards and scored on a 26-yard run in the third quarter.
Contreras was 10 of 16 for 148 yards and three TDs, the last of which went to Josh Baugh in the fourth quarter, covering 22 yards. That play was set up by a Gomez 56-yard run.
Baugh had a big night with seven catches for 102 yards.
Winans scored the first touchdown on a 15-yard strike from Contreras. The senior wide receiver now has seven catches on the year, but they've gone for six TDs.
"They're a good, big, physical bunch and it showed," South Eugene coach Chris Miller said of the Panthers.
South Medford 7 12 7 6 — 32
South Eugene 0 7 0 0 — 7
SM — Winans 15 pass from Contreras (Watson kick)
SM — Gomez 3 run (kick failed)
SE — Duncan 19 pass from Roundtree (kick good)
SM — Winans 15 pass from Contreras (pass failed)
SM — Hall 26 run (Watson kick)
SM — Baugh 22 pass from Contreras (kick failed)
ASHLAND 51, CHURCHILL 21 — At Eugene, Ashland's offense was a little out of sync but the defense and special teams more than picked up the slack as the Grizzlies scored 24 points in the third quarter to pull away in Midwestern League play.
Shashi Penn scored on a 38-yard punt return, Chance Swenson added a 38-yard interception return and Ashland picked off Churchill quarterback Justin Kearney three times, setting up a huge clash between MWL unbeatens Ashland (4-0, 2-0 MWL) and Springfield (3-1, 2-0) next Friday in Ashland.
The Grizzlies led 14-7 in the final seconds of the first half when Matt Hedges hauled in a 33-yard touchdown pass from Danial White.
The Grizzlies quickly pulled away in the second half. Hedges nailed a 25-yard field goal to extend the lead to 17 points and, on Churchill's next possession, Kearney's pass to Michael Monroy was picked off by the sophomore Swenson, whose big return gave Ashland a 31-7 lead.
White's 10-yard TD pass to Penn, followed quickly by a 28-yard touchdown run by Mason Dow, upped the Grizzlies' advantage to 45-7.
White completed 8 of 19 passes for 120 yards and two touchdowns, and Penn had 41 yards receiving and another 103 yards on kickoff and punt returns. Ryne Robitz led the Grizzlies on the ground with 83 yards rushing.
Mason Montgomery had seven tackles and an interception, and Joe Hearn seven tackles and two sacks to lead a Grizz defense that held Churchill to 321 yards of total offense.
SPRINGFIELD 48, EAGLE POINT 0 — At Springfield, Springfield struck quickly and often, led by running back Taylor Travess.
Travess scored on three long plays — including a 70-yard punt return and a 66-yard run — and had 136 yards rushing on only nine carries. He also intercepted a pass.
None of the scoring drives for the Millers (3-1, 2-0 MWL) lasted more than three plays. On the game's first play, Springfield's Trevor Watson found Braydon Haas for a 65-yard TD pass.
Watson also had TD runs of 58 and 35 yards and accounted for 219 all-purpose yards.
Eagle Point had 287 yards in offense, with 192 coming through the air.
Eagles' senior quarterback Jorge Quintero was 17 of 36 passing for 180 yards but had three interceptions.
Seth Arena led the Eagles ground attack with 15 carries for 51 yards. Lucas Morris, a senior wide receiver, caught 9 passes for 79 yards.
Eagle Point 0 0 0 0 —0
Springfield 7 27 0 14 —48
Spr — Haas 65 pass from Watson (kick good)
Spr — Watson 58 run (kick good)
Spr — Travess 70 punt return (kick failed)
Spr — Travess 3 run (kick good)
Spr — Watson 35 run (kick good)
Spr — Travess 66 run (kick good)
Spr — 1 run (kick good)
MOLALLA 32, PHOENIX 27 — At Molalla, Phoenix quarterback Justin McCreadie passed for three touchdowns but Molalla rallied for 20 points in the fourth quarter to hand the Pirates their first loss of the season.
McCreadie tossed his third TD of the game, a 63-yard connection to Tyler Hague, to put the Pirates ahead 27-26 with 4:42 remaining in the fourth quarter. But the Indians (2-2) responded with a game-winning 60-yard touchdown pass from Austin Alexander to Ty Delbridge.
McCreadie was 12 of 30 passing for 245 yards.