North advances into 6A playoffs
The ultimate goal was to win and advance to the Class 6A football state playoffs, and North Medford certainly did that Friday night at Spiegelberg Stadium.
How all that came about wasn't exactly a masterpiece against winless Clackamas, but that didn't stop the Black Tornado from exhaling with a huge sigh of relief after securing a 17-7 triumph in a 6A play-in game.
"I'm pleased with our defensive effort, and the offense did enough to win," said North Medford head coach Jeff Olson, "but we've got to step it up now that we're in the playoffs and we get to keep playing."
Jesse Hornbrook sprinted his way to a 51-yard touchdown run in the first quarter and the Black Tornado scored 10 points following a pair of interceptions by Jeremy Scottow to win a penalty- and punt-filled contest.
North Medford (5-5) had three touchdowns called back by penalties — including a 51-yard interception return by Scottow — and was flagged 10 times overall for 85 yards. Each team punted five times and Clackamas (0-10) was penalized five times for 49 yards.
"It definitely builds momentum," Scottow said of the victory, "but we've got to stop the stupid mistakes. The score should've been two touchdowns more."
North Medford's opponent in the state playoffs will be determined by the final 6A power rankings.
Hornbrook finished with 159 yards on 22 carries and Hector Alvarez added 69 yards on seven carries as the Black Tornado rolled up 274 yards on the ground and outgained Clackamas 296-243. The Cavaliers notched 80 of those yards on their final drive.
"You've got to give credit to them," said Olson. "They're an 0-9 team coming in and there was no quit in that team. Hats off to coach (Joe) Bushman and the Clackamas group for that."
Hornbrook's big run opened the scoring six minutes into the contest, but Clackamas answered in the final seconds of the first quarter on a trick play. Wide receiver Brandon Stephens took a reverse handoff and then lofted a pass downfield to Andy Feist, who had no one within 25 yards of him, for an easy 50-yard touchdown pass. The play was reminiscent of when the two teams met in the season opener, only then it was receiver Zach Tanner connecting on a 44-yard score to Scottow.
"They pulled out all the stops tonight," said Olson.
Scottow's first interception came midway through the second quarter on an underthrown pass by Taylor Becker. He dashed right after taking in the pass and followed a convoy of blockers to the end zone, but the return was pushed back to the 34-yard line following a skirmish between Stephens and North's Fiki Silafau.
"That first one was probably the easiest ball I could've gotten," said Scottow. "I just had to make sure I would catch that ball. I was reading him all night and I found the holes and got some great blocks and ran it back. Unfortunately it was called back, but we still scored on the drive."
Hornbrook went over the century mark on the ensuing possession, and Tanner capped the drive with a 1-yard quarterback keeper to help North to a 14-7 halftime lead.
Scottow's second interception of Becker came with 2:15 to go in a lackluster third quarter when he stepped in front of another pass intended for Stephens and returned the ball to the Clackamas 24.
"That second one I just got position on (Stephens)," added Scottow. "I was kinda surprised by it. I just put my hands down and got the ball."
Hornbrook appeared to score two plays later, but the TD was wiped out by a holding penalty. After the drive stalled, Darren Cossette converted a 23-yard field goal attempt with 35.7 seconds to go in the third.
Roger Keller intercepted Becker again on the Cavalier's next drive, but the Tornado failed to advance the ball.
Clackamas was again held in check, this time on a fourth-and-two play when Cory Pine played the role of a brick wall on an inside run by Oliver Farnes and sent the junior tailback 1-yard backward.
The Tornado fumbled the ball right back to the Cavaliers two plays later, but again held on fourth down. A 48-yard run by Alvarez put North in scoring position, but Hornbrook lost out on another TD run on an illegal block in the back. The Tornado eventually turned the ball over on downs with 2:09 to play.
Clackamas' final drive began at its 9 and advanced to the North 11 before Scottow deflected a pass in the end zone toward Stephens on fourth down with 13.7 seconds to go. The Tornado and Cavaliers committed offsetting penalties for unsportsmanlike conduct after the play in a game that was chippy throughout following the second-quarter skirmish.
At Spiegelberg Stadium
Clackamas 7 0 0 0 —7
North Medford 7 7 3 0 —17
NM — Hornbrook 51 run (Cossette kick)
C — Feist 50 pass from Stephens (Rogers kick)
NM — Tanner 1 run (Cossette kick)
NM — FG Cossette 23
First Downs 14 9
Rushes-Yards 44-94 45-274
Passing Yards 149 22
Comp-Att-Int 17-29-3 2-6-0
Total Yards 243 296
Punts 5-29.6 5-34.2
Fumbles-lost 1-0 1-1
Penalties-yards 5-49 10-85
Clackamas — Farnes 17-70, Becker 10-(-1), Markgraff 4-9, Torgeson 2-11, Stephens 1-5.
North Medford — Hornbrook 22-159, Scottow 4-12, Tanner 9-25, H. Alvarez 7-69, Saldana 1-4, Castellano 1-0, Cossette 1-7.
Clackamas — Becker 16-27-3 99, Stephens 1-1-0 50, Grant 0-1-0 0.
North Medford — Tanner 2-6-0 22.
Clackamas — Stephens 5-21, Feist 5-84, Farnes 3-35, Williams 1-1, Markgraff 3-8.
North Medford — Browne-Moore 2-22.
Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org