CENTRAL POINT — After losing a wild shootout last week, the Crater High football team focused on improving its rushing attack, and senior Cade Weaver delivered in a big way.

Weaver rushed for three touchdowns and caught another as Crater rumbled past Ashland 45-14 in a Midwestern League game on Friday at Dutch Meyer Field.

The Comets (4-3, 3-2 MWL) scored on their first six possessions, converting four turnovers by the Grizzlies (2-5, 1-4) into four touchdowns.

Time and again, Crater pitched the ball to Weaver and ran him off tackle with great success, to the tune of 133 yards on 17 carries, including a key fourth-down conversion in Ashland territory in the first half.

“We were getting good blocks on the edge and so that was good,” Crater coach Randy Waite said. “And Cade ran hard. The whole line did a great job.”

Senior fullback Tony Flores added 41 yards rushing on five carries for the Comets, who ran for 211 yards and passed for just 80 — compared to 391 passing yards in their previous game.

“Last week I said if we were going to shoot out, it wouldn’t be in our favor, and it wasn’t,” Waite said of a 63-40 loss to Thurston in which the teams combined for more than 1,000 yards of total offense. “We have to be able to control the ball and run the ball, so that was kind of an emphasis this week, and I thought our guys came out and ran the ball pretty well and did a good job.”

After falling behind 21-0, Ashland rallied with a pair of long scoring drives capped by touchdown passes from sophomore quarterback Rieger Sayre to senior receiver Anthony Swanson.

“Those were designed plays for this week and they worked,” Swanson said, crediting quarterbacks coach Kam Smith and offensive coordinator Antione Perry for the design. “They were just trying to give me space so I could make moves and get a touchdown.”

But Crater answered with a 12-yard touchdown run by Flores and 42-yard field goal by Trever Davis on the final play of the first half, then tacked on a 51-yard touchdown by Weaver on the first play from scrimmage in the second half.

Davis, the Comets’ starting quarterback, found Weaver for a 4-yard scoring reception in the third quarter after Jacob Chenoweth recovered a fumble on a botched snap by Ashland.

Weaver had an interception to end both of Ashland’s opening two possessions and set up his first two scoring runs, a 10-yard scamper on Crater’s first offensive play and an 8-yarder that capped the Comets’ second drive.

“We just talked about before the game, ‘We’ve gotta go out and punch ‘em in the mouth,’ and I felt like we went out and did that,” Weaver said. “And we’ve gotta start fast; we did that, too.”

The back-to-back scoring drives Ashland put together in the second quarter helped keep the Grizzlies players motivated and positive, coach Beau Lehnerz said.

“It was huge,” he said. “I felt like our kids started to build on that, and I’m hoping that Crater was feeling the pressure, as well. They made some mistakes and that was something that we were going to try to ride through the halftime, but we unfortunately came out and gave up a huge touchdown.”

“We’re trying to play assignment football and sometimes you have young kids not doing their assignments,” Lehnerz said of his leaky run defense. “We’ll learn. It’s proof that if you make one little mistake, good teams can capitalize on it.”

Ashland’s Gabe Ekwall and Crater’s Dylan Kinney each had an interception.

Reach sports reporter Mike Oxendine at 541-776-4499 or moxendine@mailtribune.com.