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North bashes Crater

Amped-up Tornado demolishes Comets

CENTRAL POINT ' The North Medford High football team was like a starving, wounded dog backed into a corner.

It was hungry for a win. And it was ornery.

Losers of three straight games for the first time in a decade, the Black Tornado took out its frustrations on Crater Friday night before a packed house at Dutch Meyer Field.

Senior tailback Ryan Folsom scored five touchdowns and North Medford's maligned defense held the Comets to 200 total yards in a 41-14 Tornado victory.

— For the first time this season, we executed as a team in pretty much every phase of the game, said North Medford coach Rod Rumrey, whose team evened its Southern Oregon Conference record at 1-1 and improved to 2-3 overall. Prior to tonight, we'd been having a lot of breakdowns. Something was missing.

But tonight, we played with excitement and we played as a team.

The outcome was decided in the first half.

Crater (2-3 overall, 0-2 SOC) took the opening kickoff and drove 52 yards in nine plays for the game's first touchdown ' a 4-yard plunge by senior fullback Cody Clark. Jordan Clark tacked on the PAT for a 7-0 Comets lead, but from there, it was all North Medford.

With Folsom running hard behind a dominating offensive line and with junior quarterback Darren Bruhns performing with the precision of a surgeon ' he completed 11 of his first 13 passes for 146 yards and one touchdown ' the Tornado scored on its first four possessions to take a 28-7 halftime lead.

This is the first time I've felt healthy in two weeks, said Bruhns, who's been ailing with a sore shoulder in his throwing arm. I'd lost some confidence the last couple games. Tonight, I felt good.

But the real story was our offensive line. Those guys controlled the line of scrimmage and made things easy for me.

Bruhns wasted no time revving up North Medford's offense as he gunned a 38-yard pass to senior wide receiver A.J. Nichols on the Tornado's first play. He connected with Nichols twice more on the 79-yard drive, once for 10 yards and once for 11, before Folsom dashed 10 yards for a touchdown on a counter play.

North Medford botched the PAT due to a bad snap, leaving Crater with a 7-6 lead, but it hardly mattered.

On Crater's next possession, Kyle Lamson blocked Cody Clark's punt, giving North Medford the ball on the Comets' 28.

Bruhns went back to work, hitting Nichols on a 17-yard hitch pattern and, one play later, finding Folsom on a flair pass for a 9-yard score. Folsom then ran in the two-point conversion for a 14-7 North Medford advantage.

Folsom burst 20 yards to paydirt on an option play the next time North had the ball, then rambled 4 yards on an option play 45 seconds before halftime that extended the Tornado's cushion to 28-7 at the break.

Everyone did their job, said Folsom, who finished the game with 81 yards rushing on 14 carries. The line was awesome and our receivers threw some great downfield blocks.

I had a feeling this might happen. You could feel it during practice this week. We went at it hard and tonight everything clicked.

Crater's comeback hopes were dealt a death knell to start the second half when North Medford's Reese Peden ran the kickoff back 88 yards for a touchdown. Peden found a seam up the left side of the field, picked up a couple blocks and raced untouched for the score that gave the Tornado a 35-7 lead.

The biggest thing we talked about at halftime was that they were going to come out with a lot of fire and try to get back in the game, Rumrey said. But Reese had other ideas. He's probably the fastest guy on our team and he kind of showed it on that play. What a huge lift that was for us.

Bruhns set up North Medford's final score ' a 5-yard run by Folsom ' with a 39-yard gain on a quarterback keeper with 2:48 left in the third period.

Crater's final touchdown came on a 1-yard sneak by Cody Staniforth with 3:22 remaining in the game.

North Medford enjoyed a 302-200 advantage in total offense and committed just two penalties for 20 yards.

Senior tackle Tim Endecott, junior linebacker Kris Carey and Folsom each had big games on defense for the Tornado. During one series in the second half, Carey (two) and Folsom (one) combined to sack Staniforth on three straight plays.

What can you say ' they made all the plays and we didn't, Crater coach John Beck said. I did a poor job of motivating us.

North Medford doesn't have long to savor its first conference win as it meets cross-town rival South Medford next Friday at Spiegelberg Stadium.

North bashes Crater"dhunt@mailtribune.com.

North Medford quarterback Darren Bruhns (18) evades Crater defenders Trevor Hurst (44) and Chris Foster to pick up a first down. Mail Tribune / Roy Musitelli - Mail Tribune Roy Musitelli