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Tornado roughs up Grizzlies

One week after suffering its first loss of the season, North Medford takes it out on Ashland in the SOC opener

Rob Folsom personified the gritty, hard-nosed personality of the North Medford High football team Friday night at Spiegelberg Stadium.

The senior tailback fought his way for 183 yards on 17 carries and one touchdown to help fuel the third-ranked Black Tornado to a 42-7 victory over Ashland in the Southern Oregon Conference opener for both teams.

Folsom's impressive performance came one week after he lost two fumbles in a 21-14 loss to Lake Oswego that cost North Medford its No. — state ranking.

— We tore them up and you can thank our line for that, Folsom said. Our big hogs were moving some furniture out there tonight.

Folsom credits North Medford running backs coach Rod Rumrey ' the team's former head coach ' for helping him to run tougher and keep his balance more effectively this season.

We do a drill called 10 yards of hell where we have to run through six guys holding arm shields, Folsom said. If you don't keep your pads low and your feet churning then you get the snot beat out of you.

And it doesn't matter how many yards you gain Friday night, he's (Rumrey) going to be on you come Monday.

North Medford quarterback Beau Hovland fired touchdown passes of 6 and 15 yards to Ben Running on the Black Tornado's first two possessions for a 14-0 lead, but Ashland fought back on a spectacular 80-yard touchdown pass from Logan Bishop to Steve Jorgensen that made it 14-7 early in the second period.

The 5-foot-8, 151-pound Jorgensen momentarily juggled the long, over-the-shoulder pass down the right sideline, but gathered it in on the dead run and outran the Tornado secondary to the end zone.

But before the Grizzlies were through celebrating, North Medford's Will Brown ran back the ensuing kickoff 92 yards to pay dirt.

This was my first week on the kickoff return team and I was pretty nervous, Brown said. But I got a great block from David Faaeteete and that started me on my way.

Ashland first-year coach David Coldiron said the kick return was the biggest play of the game.

We had some momentum and suddenly it was gone, said Coldiron, whose team fell to 2-1 overall and 0-1 in the SOC. We pride ourselves on our special teams, but they executed that play well.

North Medford (3-1, 1-0 SOC) snuffed out whatever chance Ashland had of coming back when Hovland ' a cornerback on defense ' returned an interception 24 yards for a touchdown with 47 seconds remaining before halftime.

The Grizzlies were also hurt by the loss of standout receiver and defensive back David Morris, who caught four passes for 71 yards before leaving the game in the second quarter with a head injury.

Morris watched the second half in street clothes.

With Folsom ripping off runs of 17 and 26 yards, North Medford drove 70 yards in seven plays with its first possession of the second half to cushion its lead to 35-7.

Brown finished the drive with a 13-yard sweep for the touchdown.

Folsom scored the Tornado's final TD on a 13-yard burst up the middle late in the third quarter.

While North Medford coach John Beck was tickled with certain aspects of his team's play, he was displeased with others.

He liked the running of Folsom, the passing and leadership of Hovland and, by and large, the blocking of his offensive line.

He disliked the Tornado's three first-half turnovers and its 10 penalties for 95 yards.

North Medford had two touchdowns ' a 45-yard punt return by Sammy McHenry and a 60-yard run by backup tailback Josh Casebeer ' nullified by yellow hankies.

I think we've still got some things to shore up, Beck said. Our expectations are high and overall we're not meeting them.

Bishop had a reasonably good game for Ashland, completing 10 of 22 passes for 229 yards and the long touchdown to Jorgensen. However, he also suffered four interceptions and was sacked four times.

North Medford?s Steve Johnson, right, puts pressure on Ashland quarterback Logan Bishop in Friday?s game. Mail Tribune / Roy Musitelli - Mail Tribune Roy Musitelli