Whew! Upstart Eagles soar past Indians
EAGLE POINT ' Fourth-and-10 against Roseburg.
One minute and six seconds on the clock.
Eighty-two yards to history.
As improbable as that scenario seems, that's the way it played out Friday night for Eagle Point as the up-and-coming Eagles turned a moral victory into a triumph for the ages in front of a packed house at Eagle Stadium.
— Nothing compares to this feeling, to the feeling of beating Roseburg, EP quarterback Jered McClellan said of his team's thrilling 41-34 win. Nothing.
Friday's come-from-behind victory marked Eagle Point's first win over Roseburg since 1986 ' and only the second ever against the Indians ' and moved the Eagles to 3-0 overall and 1-0 in the Southern Oregon Conference.
Roseburg, which scored the game's first 14 points and led 21-7 in the second quarter, dropped to 2-2 overall and 0-1 in SOC play.
They've got a good team, Roseburg head coach Thurman Bell said of the Eagles. They got the intensity on their side and kept it going. We had a chance to put the ballgame away early and we just could not do it. That's our fault.
With the Eagles trailing 34-33, the senior McClellan showed tremendous poise in finding junior Mychal Williams for a 10&
189; -yard gain on fourth down.
Another 8-yard completion to Williams kept the chains moving, and then McClellan found the 5-foot-11, 150-pounder a third straight time along the EP sideline for 15 yards. Roseburg was penalized an additional 15 yards following unsportsmanlike behavior on a post-reception skirmish, putting the ball at the Indians' 33-yard-line.
With the clock at 24.8 seconds, McClellan lofted a deep out toward Jeremy Carvajal that was hauled in just inside the Roseburg sideline at the 10.
After a Roseburg timeout, McClellan rolled right and then turned his attention back to the left side toward a wide-open AJ Nichols as Roseburg's Isaiah Smith found himself in no man's land trying to guard two EP receivers.
I just tried to get him the ball, McClellan said of his game-winning throw. I didn't try to make it pretty, I just wanted to get AJ the ball so he could get in and score.
The duo hooked up moments later for a two-point conversion to make it 41-34 with 19.3 seconds to play.
The tension didn't quite end there, however, as Roseburg advanced the ensuing kickoff to the Eagles' 45 and used a 15-yard completion to Smith from Brett Stephens to seemingly work the last nerve of an Eagle crowd aching to rush the field.
With time left for only one more play, Stephens took his final snap in the shotgun and was engulfed seconds later by defensive lineman Chris Cox to seal an emotionally draining win for Eagle Point.
We, at some point, had to get one to get over the hump, said third-year EP head coach Harry Hedrick. Whether it's Roseburg or North Medford, we had to come over that hump, and this was that game we've been waiting for.
McClellan completed 16 of 27 passes for 183 yards, three TDs and three interceptions to lead the Eagles, who refused to be shaken by Friday's adversity.
Not for a second, McClellan said of any doubts he had on an EP rally. Everybody was so committed during the week, working hard to get ready for this game. We knew it was a big one and didn't want to let it slip away.
McClellan also rushed for 52 yards and a fourth-quarter score on 12 carries, while Nate Idrogo made a solid contribution at linebacker and with 92 yards rushing on 11 carries in his first action of the season following a car accident.
Williams finished with five catches for 48 yards and a TD, while Carvajal had six receptions for 78 yards and Nichols hauled in three passes for 37 yards and two TDs.
Nichols also provided Eagle Point with a burst of energy coming out of the locker room as he took the second-half kickoff 95 yards to pay dirt in forcing the second tie of the game at 27-all. The kickoff was the first by Roseburg's Kyle Loomis that didn't fall midway into the end zone.
Roseburg answered two series later with a 7-yard hookup from Stephens to Brian Benson, but that would be all the scoring the Indians could muster in the second half as EP clamped down on the visitors.
We really didn't do too much, Hedrick said of defensive adjustments in the second half. We just did a better job of getting to the passer. It was the same stuff; we just did it a little better.
Stephens, the SOC's third-ranked passer behind McClellan entering the game, completed 9 of 18 passes for 181 yards, four TDs and an interception by Williams. The junior also rushed 12 times for 74 yards and one score, while 6-foot, 193-pound teammate Jimmy Zhu bruised his way to 124 yards on 24 carries.
Our defense did an unbelievably good job holding them to 34 points, McClellan said. They kept playing bigger as the game went on.
As did McClellan, who certainly earned the respect of one observer.
I don't think we sacked him once, Bell said. We just weren't able to contain him. We were coming too hard off the corners and kept running by him. He's a heckuva athlete and he did a great job. He had us scrambling back there.
Roseburg had EP scrambling with its quick-as-a-hiccup start. The Indians had a chance to go up 28-7 with about six minutes to go in the first half, but Stephens' handoff to Benson at the EP 8-yard-line never quite got to the senior and Logan Rock recovered for the Eagles.
McClellan then marched his team 92 yards to pay dirt, capping the drive with a 14-yard hookup to Nichols to make it 21-14.
Roseburg fumbled the ensuing kickoff and the Eagles added an Idrogo score three plays later to tie the game and cast aside any doubts that they were for real.
That was a huge turning point right there, Bell said of the fumbled handoff. We had a chance to go up 28-7 right there and we let them come right back. They played awesome.
They're going to beat some other people, the 34th-year head coach added. It's a little disappointing right now, but they're going to beat some other people.
Reach reporter Kris Henry at 776-4488, or e-mail