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Tornado stuns No. 7 Roseburg

ROSEBURG ' North Medford High football coach Rod Rumrey had a feeling that his team was on the verge of putting together a complete game.

Little did he know the Black Tornado would play an almost perfect game on the road against the seventh-ranked, Class 4A team in the state.

Senior tailback Ryan Folsom dazzled onlookers by rushing for 192 yards on 21 carries and three touchdowns and senior wide receiver A.J. Nichols scored a pair of touchdowns on an 84-yard punt return and a 17-yard fumble return as the Tornado posted a stunning 46-21 victory over Roseburg Friday night at Finlay Field.

With the win, North Medford moved to 5-3 overall and 4-1 in the Southern Oregon Conference and can clinch the SOC's No. — state playoff berth with a victory over Grants Pass next Friday.

The Indians dropped to 6-2 overall and 4-1 in the SOC with a date against South Medford at Spiegelberg Stadium left on their regular-season schedule.

— People have been saying that this team isn't as good as the North Medford teams of the past but we've got some people who dispute that, Folsom said after a career night that included a spectacular 39-yard touchdown reception on a screen pass. The naysayers were everywhere, but we came up here with a belief.

This was a pivotal win ' it sets up the rest of our season.

Roseburg entered the game having allowed just 15 points in four SOC games, but North Medford ravaged the Indians for 279 yards rushing, 108 yards passing and 46 points in what by far was its best performance of the season.

The Tornado also got big contributions from its special teams for the first time all year.

We got beat by a team that was hungrier than we were, Roseburg coach Thurman Bell said. They had their backs to the wall and they came out fighting.

They beat us in every facet of the ball game.

North Medford didn't take long to come up with a big play. Less than two minutes into the game, Nichols gathered in a Kyle Loomis punt and cut up the left sideline 84 yards to paydirt.

Tyler Lake's PAT kick sailed wide to the left but, nonetheless, the Tornado had a quick 6-0 lead.

Kyle Lampson threw a great block to spring me and it was off to the races, Nichols said.

North Medford's only lost fumble of the game ' a bobble by quarterback Darren Bruhns at the Tornado 22-yard line ' set up a 2-yard touchdown run by Jimmy Zhu that gave Roseburg a 7-6 lead.

The Indians also scored on their next possession, a 25-yard burst up the middle by Zhu that capped a 59-yard, five-play drive as they stretched their advantage to 14-6 and seemed on the verge of taking control.

But North Medford responded with an 80-yard, seven-play march capped by Folsom's 6-yard touchdown scamper. Bruhns was stopped inches short of the goal line on a two-point conversion attempt, leaving the Indians with a 14-12 lead at the 8:11 mark of the second quarter.

Roseburg made one other visit to the red zone in the first half, but Zhu fumbled the ball away at the North Medford 18 and Tornado linebacker Eric Stroh jumped on it.

North Medford appeared destined to trail at halftime, but a 29-yard punt return by Nichols with 27 seconds left before intermission gave the Tornado good field position at the Roseburg 49.

On the following play, Bruhns rolled to his right and showcased his strong right arm, gunning a pass to a wide-open Troy Driskell in the end zone.

Another two-point conversion failed, but North Medford went to the locker room with an 18-14 lead.

That was a heck of a pass by Bruhns and a big momentum swing, Rumrey said. We didn't really expect to be ahead at halftime.

The momentum turned into a complete avalanche for the Tornado in the early part of the second half.

It needed just four plays to cover 80 yards and boost its lead to 25-14. Folsom scored the touchdown on a 10-yard run and set it up with a 58-yard gallop on a counter play.

Just 19 seconds later, Zhu mishandled an option pitch and Nichols scooped up the bouncing pigskin. He raced 17 yards untouched to the end zone and suddenly, North Medford had a 32-14 lead.

I thought about just falling on the ball but I got a little greedy and went for it, said Nichols with a grin.

If any single play doomed the Indians, that was the one.

That was a huge start for us in the second half, Rumrey said. To go the length of the field in four plays was pretty impressive and then when Nichols got that touchdown off the fumble ... that put them in an awfully big hole.

Roseburg wasn't dead yet, however, as Zhu tallied his third touchdown of the night on a 1-yard run that culminated an 80-yard drive, pulling the Indians to within 32-21 with 5:40 remaining in the third.

Roseburg then got the ball back on a Blake Keitzman interception of a Driskell halfback option pass in the end zone. But North Medford's Henry Olsen returned the favor moments later when he picked off a pass that skipped through Zhu's hands at the Roseburg 35.

Three plays after that, Folsom added to his highlight reel by taking a screen pass in the left flat. He did a 360-degree spin to dodge one Roseburg defender and then ran through a couple other would-be tacklers en route to a 39-yard touchdown.

We practice those twirl moves but I don't feel comfortable doing them, Folsom said. I don't like taking my eyes off the end zone. But when you've got the ball in your hands against Roseburg, you do whatever it takes.

Folsom finished his brilliant night with a 26-yard touchdown gallop with 11:09 left in the game.