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Living up to the hype

North Medford lands the telling blow in a battle of prep heavyweights with Beau Hovland's TD, 2-point conversion

PORTLAND ' North Medford's visit to the Rose City turned out to be a dazzling way to open the high school football season Friday night.

Beau Hovland's 23-yard run and two-point conversion run with 31 seconds remaining carried North Medford to a 30-29 victory over Jesuit before 4,000 fans at Jesuit's Cronin Field.

The Black Tornado moved 67 yards on five plays for the winning score after Jesuit had taken a 29-22 lead with a 58-yard touchdown pass with 1:42 left in the game.

That score answered one by North with 2:41 that also included a two-point conversion for a 22-21 lead.

— Exciting, but meaningless in the long run because the game doesn't count in the district standings that send teams to the state playoffs, North coach John Beck said.

It was easy to go for two at the end, Beck said. What we really wanted was for the kids to have fun and to play a great team. I figured why not play for the win?

North plays at Mountain View of Bend next week. Jesuit begins its Metro League schedule against Sunset.

The teams that met in the 2000 state championship dueled equally in success and failure throughout the game. Jesuit led 14-0 in the second quarter and had a pass dropped that might have led to another touchdown.

North Medford had four turnovers, three on fumbles, in the first half. The Tornado had one drive in the first half end with a fumble in the Jesuit end zone, and had a fourth-down pass dropped in the end zone early in the fourth quarter with the score 21-14.

But the teams picked up their play as the intensity rose.

Still trailing 21-14 with seven minutes left, North got a 40-yard punt return from senior Sammy McHenry that set up an eight-play, 40-yard drive that senior Rob Folsom capped with a 4-yard run. Folsom, who had 122 yards and two scores on 15 carries, ran the two-point conversion in as well.

Jesuit's answer came on a 58-yard pass from junior Jon Breuer to senior Zach Tarver, who is headed for Oregon State. Senior Mike Jones, who ran for 116 yards on 22 carries and is also headed for Oregon State, ran in the two-point conversion.

Breuer threw four touchdown passes in the game, two to Tarver.

North responded behind Hovland, who ran 16 times for 109 yards and completed 14 of 22 passes for 157 yards and one touchdown in the game. He was intercepted once. Drenched in sweat, Hovland said he was prepared to put up similar numbers in every game this season.

Jesuit was a pretty physical team, said Hovland, a 6-foot-2 senior, who weaved across the field for the winning score. If I can take it in this game, I can take it all season.

After the game, he got in a car and started the drive back to Medford to report to his job at 4:30 a.m. this morning delivering concrete.

Jesuit's final drive ended with a Hail Mary pass that was knocked down at the goal line.

Folsom, a 5-8 tailback, said the game meant plenty to him. He compared the intensity favorably to a meeting with South Medford. The trip to Portland included an hourlong detour in neighboring Beaverton when the Tornado bus got lost. Folsom said it added to the flavor of the event.

When you grow up playing the same kids all the time, you get used to the atmosphere, Folsom said. But this game felt bigger. We hadn't played these guys before and it's in Portland and we don't get up this way too often. It was a lot of fun.

Folsom then also headed back to Medford for a morning hunting trip.

North Medford senior quarterback Beau Hovland (14) tries to run over Jesuit defensive end Phil Barry during the first half of Friday?s season-opener.