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Comets put it all together in blowout

CENTRAL POINT — It was purgative.

It was therapeutic.

It was reassuring.

But most importantly, Crater head football coach John Beck said late Friday night in a nearly empty locker room, it was a win.

And in a merciless Southwest Conference, and with the changes that his team so desperately wanted to make, Beck and the Comets will take it, no questions asked, and move on to the next battle.

"It's a faceless opponent," Beck said. "We've got to take care of ourselves, whether we are playing Sheldon or South Eugene."

Crater did just that, obliterating the Axemen 62-7 at Dutch Meyer Field, capturing its first league victory and, at least for a game, solving some problems that had left the program frustrated.

Specifically, Crater's improved secondary turned in a shining performance, helping hold the winless Axemen (0-5, 0-3 SWC) to 111 passing yards — including just three in the second period and 17 in the first half — and keeping South Eugene off the scoreboard for almost 45 minutes with no major blunders.

Leading the effort were the defensive backs — Cole Berriochoa, Corey Wynant, RJ Morgan, Wyatt Williams and Andrew Horton. They cleaned up a pass defense that's looked porous lately.

"That is what (assistant) coach (David) Douglas said, that we were exercising some demons," Beck said. "Going to rehab for a little bit. I thought that was a good way to put it. We got our pass out of rehab. I thought our secondary played really, really well."

Friday night for the Comets (3-2, 1-2 SWC) was much different than last Friday, when Crater held South Medford to 67 rushing yards but allowed 424 in the air in a loss. And it was different than two weeks ago, when the Comets gave up 376 passings yards to Thurston in a defeat.

"Our secondary worked really, really hard on getting back on track because we have good athletes in our secondary and I think we just got away from emphasizing focus and made mental mistakes and people took advantage," Beck said.

Suffice it to say, Crater's offense against South Eugene was pretty darn good, too, as was its special teams.

Senior tailback Garrett Alner rushed for 83 yards and two touchdowns (23 and 7 yards), junior quarterback Chase Mackey completed nine of his 15 attempts for 108 yards and finished with two touchdowns — a 22-yard reception from Wynant to open the scoring and a 26-yard strike to Ty Wolf that put the Comets ahead 28-0 with 9:56 remaining in the second quarter.

"We had something to prove today and we came out and had nothing to hold back and showed what we could do," Alner said. "Our line did awesome. We couldn't ask for anything better on the perimeter, blocking and everything worked out."

As a team, Crater finished with 541 total yards, including 304 on the ground. Meanwhile, the Axemen were limited to 120 yards rushing.

At halftime, the Comets led 42-0 with 350 total yards.

"Our kids were just not to (Crater's) level of physicality tonight," South Eugene head coach Chad Kessler said.

All of the scoring and statistics added up to a big, but ephemeral, confidence boost for Crater, which lives in a conference possessing three of the top-four ranked Class 6A teams (Sheldon, Roseburg and South Medford).

"This got us back on our feet and got us on the right path," Alner said.

Chance Fahndrich carried the ball seven times for 68 yards and a touchdown and Wynant made two catches for 51 yards for Crater. Moose Cooper, who substituted in for Mackey, was 3-for-6 with a 56-yard TD pass — which came on his first attempt of the game, no less — to Taylor Peterson that gave his team a 48-0 lead.

Defensively, tackle Sal Flores made an interception in the first quarter to set up Crater's first score. Kory Bennett also had a score-yielding pick, his coming in the third quarter.

The Comets travel to play No. 1 Sheldon next Friday.

"We've been working out our kinks this week and that is what we wanted to do, to get everything straight for next week and our big game," Mackey said. "We've already talked about (the South Eugene win). (Beck) says he doesn't want to talk about this game anymore. We are on to Sheldon.

"We are on a winning streak right now ... we're just trying to keep it going."

Reach reporter Dan Jones at 541-776-4499, or email djones@mailtribune.com

Crater senior Garrett Alner fights through the South Eugene defensive line during Friday's game at Dutch Meyer Field. - Larry Stauth