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Ashland gets kick out of victory, 35-0

EAGLE POINT -- It's not Ashland junior Sean Schorovsky's style to boom kickoffs out of the end zone or drill PATs through the uprights.

But Schorovsky proved just effective as a knuckleball pitcher on a breezy afternoon, giving the Eagle Point Eagles fits retrieving his bouncing kicks Friday night.

Whether they knuckled in the air or hopped crazily on the ground, the Eagles rarely fielded kicks cleanly. It was that kind of night for Eagle Point as fifth-ranked Ashland scored all of its points in the first half en route to a 35-0 Southern Oregon Conference football victory.

Ashland quarterback Jimmy Werbin had a prolific night as well, throwing for 334 yards, two touchdowns and a 2-point PAT as the Grizzlies improved to 3-0 in conference and 5-0 overall. Eagle point slipped to 1-2 in conference and 1-3 overall.

The ball just didn't bounce the Eagles' way as they lost three of six fumbles and muffed several kicks. Worse yet, Ashland's receivers proved just as slippery.

Senior receiver Jay Kuester hauled in seven passes for 192 yards and one touchdown from Werbin, who completed 14-of-19 aerials with one interception.

Ashland kept Eagle Point's offense running in neutral for the first 12 minutes, giving credence to the notion that a good offense is the best defense. Before the Eagles ran their fourth offensive play of the game, the Grizzlies led 21-0 and had built a 184-4 edge in total offense.

That kind of took us out of our game plan, said Eagle Point coach Mike Johnston.

Kuester's first grab went for 67 yards before Sean Johnston knocked him down at the EP 3. Kris Pavilionis scored from the — two plays later and with 10:09 left in the first quarter.

I got a great block from Pavilionis, said Kuester, allowing me to get the extra yards, but I'm wearing this stupid knee brace. I'm hoping to get my speed up next week.

Ashland followed with an onside kick. But junior Kevin Johnston corralled Schorovsky's kick, eluded the first tackler and ran 30 yards before he was hit at the Ashland 25 and fumbled.

I don't get the ball a whole lot, said Johnston, a defensive back. I was going as hard as I could and then when the guy came up from behind me, he hit the ball and it started to slide down.

Ashland junior Tyson George gobbled up the loose ball.

We saw on film that (Johnston) was moving upfield and decided to try the onside kick, said Ashland assistant Dave Kitchell. It worked out the way we wanted, we just didn't know that we'd have to make a saving tackle, punch the ball out and recover a fumble.

The Eagles never got closer to the Ashland end zone the rest of the night. In fact they never drove inside the Ashland 35.

The Grizzlies, who had gone 73 yards in four plays in their first possession, moved 75 yards in eight plays to make it 13-0 midway through the first quarter.

Joel Smith, who topped Ashland's ground attack with 58 yards on 12 carries, rambled for 35 yards in the drive. Werbin hit Kuester all alone in the right corner of the end zone from 21 yards out for the touchdown.

It seemed the deep routes were open all night, said Kuester. It was incredible, I was looking back and our offensive line was giving Jimmy an unbelievable amount of time to throw.

Ashland coach Jim Nagel said the 6-foot-1, 185-pound passer had almost too much time.

Sometimes he'd make his reads and the No. — receiver was open, then go to No. 2 and No. 3, Nagel said. There were times when the No. — man was open and he'd have to come back to the ball. I think Jimmy was starting to think, `Well I haven't thrown to this guy in a while.'

The Eagles blocked Schorovsky's PAT, but his ensuing kickoff landed near the Eagles' 30 and bounced back toward Ashland territory. Nick Mongiovi pounced on it for the Grizzlies at the 32. Pavilionis' brilliant catch and run to the end zone was called back because of holding. Andy Gifford's sack of Werbin two plays later forced Ashland to punt.

But the Eagles went nowhere and the Grizzlies drove 48 yards in eight plays to take a commanding 21-0 advantage on the second play of the second quarter.

Werbin's 14-yard completions to Kuester and Gabe Stephens set up Werbin's 1-yard TD sneak. He then threw to Austin Mason for the conversion.

It was only after Ashland was in command that Eagle Point got the ball into Sean Johnston's hands for the first time with 9:03 left in the half. Johnston entered the game as the SOC's No. 2 rusher, averaging 130 yards per game. He wound up with 22 yards on 10 carries.

Ashland tacked on a 75-yard drive with Pavilionis strolling up the middle for a 1-yard TD and Werbin's 44-yard TD pass to Mason to finish off a spectacular half or work.

Their corners were playing a deep zone and our receivers were able to run by them, said Werbin. Our coaches told us before the game that they're a good second-half team. We just had to get on top of them early and stay on top of them.

With Roseburg coming to Ashland next week, the Grizzlies are on top of the SOC and hoping to stay there for a while.