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Eagles break South

November and December are months known more for the spirit of giving, but October might just supplant them both considering Friday's clash between South Medford and Eagle Point.

The visiting Eagles (2-3, 2-2 SOC) were the recipients of two timely gifts, taking advantage of each to secure a 21-16 win over the Panthers (0-5, 0-4) at Spiegelberg Stadium.

With the score tied 7-7 in the third quarter, Eagle Point's Sean Johnston sprinted around the right side into the secondary, where he was met by a host of South Medford defenders and apparently coughed up the ball.

With Panther junior Chris McQuillan dropping on the loose ball, South appeared to have momentum on its side. But the officials ruled that Johnston's knee was down and therefore, no fumble.

As the Panther sideline still buzzed, senior running back Brien Fiebiger romped 46 yards into the end zone on the next play to give the Eagles a 13-7 lead.

Johnston, who rushed for 186 yards and a touchdown on 32 carries, said even he was surprised over the controversial call.

I fumbled that first one, the senior admitted.

I got jarred pretty good. I have to give those guys credit, they hit me pretty good. We got a break there.

South appeared to have earned a break on the ensuing series, pulling off a fake punt to perfection as sophomore John McKay took a direct snap and pitched to senior fullback Luke Schoneberger for the first down.

That was a big play, South coach Bill Singler said. I thought when we made that we had a chance to win the game.

The drive stalled, however, and the Panthers were forced to settle for a 31-yard field goal by Schoneberger to cut Eagle Point's lead to 13-10 with 10 minutes to play.

After allowing the Eagles only four plays on the ensuing series, South roared to the 50-yard line before another close call turned the ball back over to Eagle Point.

Sophomore running back Jimmie Maddox split the defense for an apparent 13-yard gain, only to have officials rule that his knees were not down before fumbling the ball back to the Eagles.

Behind the running of Johnston and Fiebiger, Eagle Point went 68 yards on 13 plays to take a 21-10 lead, with senior quarterback Scott Peterson capping the drive on an 8-yard pass to senior Mike Newmann with 1:07 to play. Peterson then hit Johnston for a two-point conversion.

Fighting to the last second, South's McKay hooked up with senior Jeremy Parkerson for a 33-yard touchdown pass with five seconds remaining.

Despite the loss, Singler said he was proud of the way his players competed.

Any time you lose, it's a tough loss, but we had our chances this ballgame, he said.

That was a helluva a football game. That was just two teams clawing for a win.

Johnston said the victory should go far in helping the young Eagle Point squad.

We really stepped it up and proved a lot tonight. We just have to get more confidence because we can play with any team, the senior runner said. It's all up in the head. We just have to know we can win.

Singler tempered his comments on the two momentum-changing officiating calls, saying he would wait to make a judgment once he reviewed the game film.

I just have to hope they made the right calls, he said. They officiate the game and we coach the game, and we go on from there. They were given a fumble, we weren't. Those were turning points.

You have to give Eagle Point credit, too. Johnston's a good running back and they made some big plays.

South scored on its first possession of the game, sparked by 49 yards on 12 carries by junior Jeremy Boyd and a 1-yard TD by Schoneberger.

Johnston added a 4-yard touchdown run for Eagle Point to tie the game in the second quarter.