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Panthers pounce on Eagles

South keeps hopes alive for SOC title after taking care of business against Eagle Point

EAGLE POINT ' With so many state-playoff scenarios being bandied about the Southern Oregon Conference, fourth-ranked South Medford took a simple approach heading into Friday night's football game against Eagle Point.

Instead of worrying about this and that, the Panthers concentrated solely on taking care of business against the Eagles.

Behind a workmanlike effort from tailback Ryan Odell and another efficient performance from quarterback Jon Weaver, South did just that as it opened a 17-0 lead on the Eagles and staved off a late rally for a 38-28 victory at Eagle Stadium.

There were no guarantees coming into tonight, said Weaver, who completed 14 of 21 passes for 191 yards and three touchdowns. Four teams were playing great with us, North Medford, Roseburg and Eagle Point so we had to come in here with the mind set to just get this one.

— Now we need to put this behind us and put all of our focus on Roseburg, he added.

At 7-1 overall and 5-0 in SOC play, South can wrap up its second conference title in three years with a win next Friday at Roseburg. The Indians (6-2, 4-1 SOC) have SOC title hopes of their own, however, thanks to Friday's 55-34 drubbing of the Black Tornado (6-2, 3-2).

It's going to be a battle, said Odell, who scored twice and set career highs with 31 carries for 164 yards. We're going to have to bring our 'A' game.

The Panthers were out in full force early Friday against Eagle Point (6-2, 4-2), limiting the Eagles to only 6 yards of total offense in the first quarter. EP had two three-and-out series, turned the ball over on a botched kickoff return and fumbled an option pitch in the opening 12 minutes.

Capitalizing on their good fortune, the Panthers used a 4-yard touchdown run by Odell and a 37-yard field goal by Noah Brennan to go up 10-0, and then continued a drive started by EP's fumble to make it 17-0 at the 10:21 mark of the second quarter on a 6-yard hookup from Weaver to Kyle Singler.

As bad as that was for the Eagles, it could have been worse. South was stopped at the EP 1-yard line on another first-quarter drive.

I was really proud of our guys in the way we prepared ourselves to come out and take it to them right from the start, said South head coach Bill Singler. We just couldn't let them get settled into their game plan.

We felt like we had to establish the game from the onset. Eagle Point scores a lot of points and we felt like offensively we had to control the ball and also have our drives end in points.

Eagle Point missed out on its first legitimate scoring chance when Mychal Williams had Jered McClellan's fourth-and-goal pass from the 14 carom off his chest midway through the second quarter.

Given a second chance moments later after a three-and-out by South, the Eagles finally reached paydirt as McClellan marched his team 52 yards in eight plays. The senior quarterback capped the drive with a 2-yard score and ensuing PAT to cut EP's deficit to 17-7 with 1:18 left before halftime.

South needed only three plays after intermission to get that touchdown back, however, as Weaver found Dan Chancler all alone behind the Eagle Point secondary for a 56-yard scoring strike 1:14 into the second half.

After McClellan found Jeremy Carvajal on a beautiful pump-and-go for a 16-yard score to make it 24-13, the Panthers put their stamp on the game with 14 straight points to take a commanding 38-13 lead with 10:21 to go in the game.

Blending Odell runs and quick hitters from Weaver, South marched 72 yards to the end zone with 1.1 seconds to go in the third. Weaver capped the drive with a 7-yard screen pass to Logan Boyd.

On the next series, South forced a fourth down deep in EP territory and wasn't fooled when the Eagles attempted a fake on fourth-and-6 at their own 24.

Two plays later, Odell took a pitch wide left and turned the corner for a 17-yard score.

Relying on the big-play ability of McClellan, who passed for 217 yards and ran for 51 more, the Eagles rallied with two late scores before South was finally able to run the clock out as Odell and company drove down to the EP 5 and waited for the final whistle.

He just eats up a lot of the clock and picks up a lot of key yards, Weaver said of Odell, who also had a standout night at linebacker. He's a workhorse.

With the loss, Eagle Point now finds itself in a helpless position entering the final week of regular-season play. The Eagles, who next play at Klamath Union, were undefeated and ranked ninth in the state two weeks ago before back-to-back losses to the Medford teams.

In order to earn a playoff berth now, the Eagles must have South beat Roseburg or North Medford lose to Grants Pass next Friday.

That's all we can do, EP head coach Harry Hedrick said of the wait-and-see attitude his team will adopt. We had it in our own destiny and then we let it slip away so now we have to rely on other people and other things to happen. We'll do that and prepare as if we're ready to go to the playoffs and see what happens.

Regardless of what happens next week, the Eagles certainly will be able to hold their heads high.

You gotta give them credit, Weaver said of EP. We were up 38-13 and I thought they were going to kinda roll over but they didn't. They just kept coming back and kept fighting. They've got a lot of pride and a lot of heart.

South Medford?s Noah Brennan (77) and Ben Koziol (56) sandwich Eagle Point quarterback Jered McClellan during the first quarter.