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In a wild one, Central eliminates HV

GRANTS PASS -- Fans at the Josephine County Fairgrounds have been treatedto many great thoroughbred races over the years, and Saturday's Hidden Valley-CentralClass 3A state playoff football game resembled another one.

The host Mustangs and the Panthers went 'round and 'round for four fast-pacedquarters before Monmouth's Central High won 40-31 to advance to next week'squarterfinals against Scappoose.

Hidden Valley, which wrapped up its season with a 9-1 record, used itspotent rushing attack to forge an early 12-7 lead.

Skyline Conference offensive player of the year Tim Orr started the scoringwith a 13-yard touchdown run. After Central's Tyson Brooks hauled in a 30-yardscoring pass from quarterback Jason Coutts to tie the score, Mustang quarterbackAaron Jiron raced 63 yards to paydirt.

The Panthers regained the lead at 13-12 early in the second quarter ona 5-yard scamper by Jeremy Fitzgerald. Then things got interesting.

Hidden Valley answered back with a four-play, 80-yard drive that wascapped by a Jiron 30-yard run with 1:23 to go in the half.

Central needed just one play to answer back when Dane Oliver, who finishedthe game with 180 yards receiving on eight catches, hauled in an 85-yardscoring strike from Coutts off a blown coverage in the secondary.

On the ensuing kickoff, Orr returned the ball 67 yards to the Central20 and four plays later Jiron hooked up with Steve Matiaco for an 8-yardtouchdown pass with 30 seconds to play in the half.

Just when everything appeared safe for Hidden Valley, the Panthers firedone last first-half salvo.

With the ball on Central's own 30-yard line, the Panthers ran a fakereverse pass and Coutts hooked up with Fitzgerald for a 70-yard touchdownstrike to give Central a 27-26 halftime lead.

Coutts finished the first half 9 of 12 for 267 of his 321 passing yardsand three scores. Hidden Valley, meanwhile, chewed up 199 rushing yardsin the opening two periods.

We think with 3:29 left we want to run the two-minute offense andit turns into four scores, said Hidden Valley assistant coach ChrisPendleton. It really changed the complexion of the game.

The Panthers continued their momentum in the second half -- scoring ona nine-play, 64-yard drive -- all running plays -- capped by Coutts' 1-yardsneak.

Hidden Valley's Chad Ferrell intercepted a Coutts pass at the Panthers'9-yard line, but the Mustangs had to settle for a Jamie Callaway 22-yardfield goal, which cut the lead to 33-29.

Fitzgerald, who finished the game with 100-yards rushing, capped theCentral scoring with a 1-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.

Hidden Valley had two chances late in the fourth quarter in Central territory,but were stopped on two fourth down plays.

We were really close, said Pendleton. We just couldn'tget it done.

Jiron finished the game with 126 passing yards and 114 on the groundfor Hidden Valley, while Orr gained 107-yards on 23 carries.

Central 7 20 6 7 -- 40

Hidden Valley12 14 — 2 -- 31

HV -- Orr 13 run (run failed)

C -- Brooks 30 pass from Coutts (Welander kick)

HV -- Jiron 63 run (pass failed)

C -- Fitzgerald 5 run (kick failed)

HV -- Jiron 30 run (Matiaco pass from Jiron)

C -- Oliver 85 pass from Coutts (Welander run)

HV -- Matiaco 8 pass from Jiron (run failed)

C -- Fitzgerald 70 pass from Coutts (kick failed)

C -- Coutts — run (run failed)

HV -- FG Callaway 22

C -- Fitzgerald — run (Welander kick)

HV -- Fitzgerald runs out of end zone.

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