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South overpowers Grants Pass

GRANTS PASS - The South Medford High football team picked a good time to play its best game in coach Bill Singler's four years with the program.

Resembling a machine that had every part clicking to perfection, the ninth-ranked Panthers scored on seven of their first nine possessions and went on to a 48-27 victory over No. 7 Grants Pass Friday night before a jam-packed crowd of about 5,000 at Mel Ingram Field.

Junior quarterback Boomer Marshall completed 19 of 27 passes for 218 yards and three touchdowns and junior tailback Andres Reed rumbled for 176 yards on 32 carries and one score as the Panthers roared to their seventh victory in eight games this season, including a 5-1 mark in the Southern Oregon Conference.

The stunned Cavemen lost their second straight and fell to 6-2 overall and 4-2 in the SOC.

"Our hats are off to South Medford," Grants Pass coach Jeff Weiss said. "Their offense dominated the game so much that our offense never got a chance to get untracked."

Despite the victory, South Medford has yet to clinch a state playoff berth. The Panthers will advance as the No. 2 team from the SOC with a win over North Medford next Friday, but if North Medford beats the Panthers and Grants Pass defeats Eagle Point, a three-way tie for second would occur.

A coin flip would then determine the No. 2 and No. — state berths and the other team would be eliminated.

The Panthers played as if they faced playoff elimination Friday night.

They took the opening drive and marched 80 yards in 11 plays with fullback Rob Brown plowing over right guard Ben Vandagrift for the final 4 yards to the end zone.

GP's Dan Eubank blocked the extra point, and the Cavemen earned a 6-6 tie a couple minutes later when they smothered a South Medford punt and Casey McIntosh fell on the ball in the Panthers' end zone for a touchdown.

South Medford had to punt on its next possession, but from that point on the Panthers were unstoppable.

They went on drives of 82, 24 and 45 yards to close out the first half and take a 26-6 lead into the intermission.

Ryan Heil increased his touchdown total to 15 - tops in the state among receivers - when he snagged scoring passes of 15 and 19 yards from Marshall in the second period.

Marshall scored on a 1-yard sneak for South Medford's other first-half score.

"I wasn't the primary receiver on the first one but Boomer found me cutting across the middle," said Heil, who finished the night with five catches for 59 yards. "The defender (Josh McGowan) had me pretty well covered but Boomer put the ball right on the money and I caught it."

The Panthers then marched 69 yards in 15 plays with its first possession of the second half. Reed registered the touchdown on a 4-yard run, and when Marshall hit Fischer with a two-point conversion pass, South's lead had swelled to a stunning 34-6.

"We established the run early and that set up the play-action passes," Marshall said. "And it all started with our offensive line. They were firing off the line and giving Andres (Reed) some nice holes. That's the best I've seen our line play all season."

Added senior center Jacob Villa: "The line came out with a lot of intensity and just took it to 'em. I thought they'd be a little tougher, to be honest, but we were fired up."

GP's offense finally woke up late in the third period and scored on a trick play when Tyler York took a handoff and threw back across the field to quarterback Tom Cohen for a 27-yard touchdown.

But the Panthers responded with a quick 80-yard drive of their own as Marshall completed four straight passes, including a 32-yarder to Ryan Benson, and scored on a 3-yard sneak to make it 41-13 with 19.9 seconds remaining in the third period.

When the smoke cleared, South Medford had run off a staggering 84 plays to GP's 34, had built a 427-191 advantage in total offense and a huge edge in time of possession.

The Panthers also had just two penalties for 10 yards and their only turnover was committed by a backup running back in the game's waning seconds.

"It probably was our best game since I've been at South," Singler said. "We dominated the line of scrimmage, our skill kids made some big plays and our defense did a great job until the game was out of hand."

Reach reporter Don Hunt at 776-4469, or e-mail