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Halpin fuels North past Comets

CENTRAL POINT -- When the maze of offensive statistics had been dissected and digested, two factors stood out.

Three long touchdown bursts by North Medford junior tailback Kenny Halpin, combined with two devastating lost fumbles by Crater quarterback Brent Foster to start the second half, turned a classic Southern Oregon Conference offensive shootout North's way.

The Black Tornado used touchdown bursts of 51, 48 and 74 yards by Halpin to build a 28-7 lead with eight minutes to play and then held on for dear life and a 28-20 win Friday at Crater.

After Foster fumbled the ball away during Crater's first two drives of the third quarter, the Comets started to get that sinking feeling as North capitalized by taking a 21-7 lead, and eventually built it to 28-7 with 8:07 left on Halpin's third long touchdown run.

Without two fumbles in the third quarter, we could have won the game, said Crater coach Randy Heath.

Heath, a former Medford High football player, coached his first game as a head coach against the Black Tornado.

We were down seven points (14-7) at halftime, said Heath, and I felt we did everything we wanted to in the first half. It's really disappointing. We're mad and frustrated we lost. I would have liked to have gotten the Tornado. But I'm proud of our kids. They never gave up.

North Medford moved its record to 4-1 in the SOC and 5-1 overall. Crater fell to 1-2 and 1-3 overall.

Crater outgained North 490 yards to 364 and ran 81 of 130 plays in the game. But the Comets, who also were intercepted twice, victimized themselves.

They (the Black Tornado) really didn't stop our running game, said Crater tailback Brad Ralph. It's so frustrating because we stopped ourselves.

Crater rushed for 266 yards on 55 carries, including 90 yards by Ralph, 141 by Henry Delaney and 38 by fullback Tanner Hillyer.

North countered with 265 yards on the ground, including 201 yards on 14 carries by the fleet Halpin.

The holes were just there, said Halpin of his three long scores. On all three, everybody just did their jobs. I had big lanes to run through, and I had to get through as fast as I could. On those NORTH,3D