Tornado's season ends with loss to Cougars
North Medford, making its first state playoff appearance since 2005, battled third-ranked Canby evenly for most of the first half of Friday night's road contest.
But the powerful Cougars put together two late second-period touchdowns and wore down the Black Tornado to post a 62-24 victory in the first round of the Class 6A football state playoffs at Canby High School.
Canby jumped out to a 13-0 first-quarter lead before the resilient Black Tornado answered with an 88-yard kickoff return by Fiki Silafau and a 14-yard touchdown connection between Brian Reese and Jeremy Scottow as North took a 14-13 lead.
After Canby went back in front, 21-14, early in the second quarter, North Medford (5-5) came right back again. This time Scottow and Reese hooked up for a 76-yard scoring play to pull even.
The Cougars (10-1), winners of the Pacific Conference, answered with a pair of touchdowns, however, to take a 35-21 halftime lead.
A real momentum changer was Brandon Harms' 77-yard interception return for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter with North trailing 42-24.
"That broke our back," North Medford coach Jeff Olson said, "and things steamrolled from there."
Canby piled up 609 yards in total offense. The Cougars rushed 53 times for 394 yards, with Ricky Nanez leading the ground attack with 187 yards, including an 88-yard TD run in the second quarter that gave Canby the lead for good. Twelve different players carried the ball for the Cougars.
"They just ran the ball right down our throats," said Olson. "They executed exceptionally well. We didn't have an answer for their running game."
North Medford could only rush the ball for 36 yards in sloppy field conditions. Reese, a junior quarterback, completed 16 of 33 passes for 201 yards and two touchdowns, but was intercepted twice.
Scottow led North's receivers with five catches for 127 yards.
"I hate to see this kind of embarrassing finish to the season," said Olson, whose Tornado was the No. 4 seed out of the Southwest Conference. "We got our kids back to the playoffs. I want to look at the positive and not dwell on the negative."
Canby will move on to play Sprague, a 41-14 winner over Lincoln, in next week's second round.
Reach reporter Frank Silow at 776-4480, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org