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Quarterback Price is right for Comets

EAGLE POINT -- If Crater sophomore P.J. Price was the least bit scared about his first varsity football start, he did a good job of hiding it Friday night.

The 6-foot-2, 165-pound quarterback provided a nice horsd'oeuvres to the Comets' punishing meat-and-potatoes ground game as Crater pounded out a 35-13 Southern Oregon Conference victory over Eagle Point.

Price's duties have been quarterbacking Crater's junior varsity and mopping up for Brent Foster. But Foster suffered a kidney injury in the third quarter of last week's 28-21 loss to North Medford.

If Crater coach Randy Heath was worried about throwing a youngster to the Eagles, he didn't let on during the week.

Brent spent most of last Friday night in the hospital, Heath said. They thought he maybe he had a nick or torn kidney, because the blood count in his urine was so high.

Foster was tested Friday, but failed to gain his doctor's clearance.

Brent had a dramatic improvement Thursday, Heath said. But I told him I didn't know if I'd play him, even if he had been cleared. This makes us that much stronger now, knowing we can start two kids and win.

Price completed 14 of 24 passes (12 of 20 in the first half) for 156 yards to complement Crater's 235 rushing yards.

I found out Monday that I was probably going to play when they came down and got me (from the JV practice), Price said. I felt pretty relaxed with the guys I had on my side. It's still Brent's team though, I'm just going along for the ride.

The first three possessions were more like a joy ride as the Comets broke on top 21-7 with 9:53 left in the second quarter.

Crater took the opening kickoff and rambled 82 yards in 12 plays with Scott Toney barging in from 1-yard out behind center Tyler Smith and tackle Burke Thomas for a 6-0 lead with 6:56 left in the first quarter.

The big play in the drive was a 34-yard burst by Tanner Hillyer to the Eagle Point 35 before he was hauled down by Mike Newmann. The other key play was a fourth-and-four carry by Brad Ralph that netted a first down at the EP — by little more than a whisker.

Eagle Point responded with a nifty nine-play, 74-yard drive of its own with Scott Petersen passing to Newmann in the end zone for a 14-yard TD. Kirk Roberts toed the PAT to give the Eagles a brief 7-6 advantage.

Eagle running back Sean Johnston toted the ball five times for 47 yards in the drive. They big play was Johnston's 23-yard gallop to the 13, where he was banged out of bounds by Crater's Mike Jacobs.

But Price quickly guided the Comets 65 yards in six plays retake the lead on Henry Delaney's 7-yard blast up the middle. Price's 33-yard pass to Josh Johnson, giving Crater a first down at the EP 19 was the key play in the march. Price then connected with Johnson on the 2-point conversion to make it 14-7.

Crater's defense notched the first stop of the night and the Comets sped 75 yards in five plays after forcing a punt.

Price connected on passes of 20 and 9 yards before Brad Ralph scampered 40 yards for a touchdown. He froze Newmann, the final defender, at the 23 with a nice move.

Jason Brehm boomed the first of three PAT kicks to make it 21-7.

Despite Justin Hayes' fumble recovery and interception and a partially blocked punt, the Comets couldn't extend their lead.

They had three good scoring opportunities in the second quarter and we kept them out all three times, Eagle Point coach Mike Johnston said. We wouldn't let them capitalize.

Crater's inability to capitalize rubbed Heath the wrong way.

I got a bit angry and jumped on them at halftime, because we got complacent in the second quarter, Heath said.

We had a hold, a personal foul and another hold. Then we had two fullbacks and not tailback.

Eagle Point came up empty following a long drive to start the second half when Jacobs tipped Petersen's pass intended for Brian Fiebiger on fourth down at the Crater. Early in the fourth quarter the Eagles halted the Comets at the EP 4. But Anders Vetch smothered Fiebiger's fumble at the 8 two plays later and Delaney skirted the left side for his second TD.

Delaney then returned the favor when Kevin Johnston jarred the ball loose at the Crater 18. Fiebiger gained 9 yards and then Sean Johnston carried twice to make it 28-13.

After a failed onside kick, Crater drove 49 yards in six plays for the final score on Ralph's 9-yard run.

Ralph finished with 111 yards on 21 carries, while Johnston ended the night with 110 on 23 attempts.

Our belief was that their running game was their strength, said Mike Johnston. We gave (Price) too much time to throw and then he threw well. It's tough to shut them completely down. Delaney had 200 yards last year against us, he sure didn't get 200 tonight.

Petersen had a tough day before he even put on his uniform.

He was rear-ended at lunch time and we weren't even sure if we were going to have him, coach Johnston said. It was a gutty effort for him to come out and play.