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Crater routs Black Tornado

CENTRAL POINT — The long, proud history of Black Tornado football might have reached a low point Friday night at Dutch Meyer Field

The Crater Comets — playing like a team with a chip on its shoulder — ran over, around and through North Medford en route to a 68-13 thrashing.

The Comets (4-3, 2-3 SWC), who had been beaten 42-0 by top-ranked Sheldon the week before, showed little mercy for the Black Tornado (1-6, 1-4 SWC).

After exploding for 28 third-quarter points to take a 48-0 lead, Comet starters Cole Berriochoa and Ty Wolf added fourth-period touchdowns. Wolf's 54-yard scoring run came with 5:18 remaining.

Eighth-year Crater coach John Beck, a former North Medford head coach, said there was nothing to read into his team's onslaught.

"We've got to play our guys to get better," said Beck. "We have things to work on. North Medford has more tradition than anyone in the state. I think all that other stuff is water under the bridge."

Crater senior two-way performer Garrett Alner alluded to the Comets wanting to make a point against their longtime rival. Alner scored two second-quarter touchdowns, rushed for a team-high 124 yards and excelled all night defensively, including making one of two Crater interceptions.

"We were out to make a statement," said Alner, "and we showed up and played. We wanted a little respect. It's like Crater has always been underneath North. I wanted that to change and tonight we did."

The Comets held a modest, 20-0 halftime lead but had two touchdowns called back because of penalties and pretty much stymied the Black Tornado offense much of the half.

The Black Tornado was forced to punt after getting one first down on the game's opening possession.

Crater demonstrated a little of what was to follow by putting together a 10-play, 73-yard scoring drive. Quarterback Moose Cooper, making his first start of the season because of an illness to Chase Mackey, connected with Kory Bennett on a 4-yard scoring pass.

Crater accumulated 256 of its 626 yards in total offense in the first half, while North had 169 at intermission.

The Black Tornado had difficulty sustaining drives but showed big-play capability in the first half. Three plays — two pass completions to junior receiver Brody Zoller and a 40-yard run by Zach Tanner — accounted for 121 yards of North's total before halftime.

Early in the second period, a 48-yard pass completion from Tanner to Zoller got the ball to the Comet 14. But on a fourth-and-three from the 11, Tanner couldn't hook up with Trey Garfas in the corner of the end zone.

Then with just 1:17 left in the half, Tanner broke his biggest run of the game, then connected with Zoller for 33 yards to the Comet 2. Defensive back Andrew Horton made a touchdown-saving tackle on Zoller.

But a run by Darren Cossette and two by Tanner could not get the ball in the end zone and the half ended.

Derrick Turituri, a junior linebacker, played a big part of keeping the Black Tornado from scoring.

"When they were getting close to the end zone, we had plays to stop them in the red zone," said the 6-foot-2, 218-pound Turituri. "Our whole week in practice we were working hard on schemes. We had some of their tendencies in certain formations."

Beck's message to his team at halftime was "we wanted to keep our foot on the gas and get going."

Beck stressed that the Black Tornado showed it was dangerous and the score could have been 20-13 instead of 20-0.

"We wanted to take the second-half kickoff and score as fast as we could," said Beck, "and then stop them, get the ball back and score again."

The Comets did just that, going 80 yards in two plays to score with just 25 seconds gone in the third quarter. Turituri ripped off a 48-yard run, with a 5-yard face-mask penalty tacked on. Then Corey Wynant caught a 27-yard TD pass from Cooper.

Wynant picked off Tanner on North's first possession of the second half and Crater took over on it's own 42. Chance Fahndrich scored from 1 yard out seven plays later and the Comets stretched their lead to 34-0.

Crater's next touchdown came in unconventional fashion, when Sal Flores blocked Tanner's punt in the end zone and also recovered the ball for his first varsity TD.

"I got through the line and just decided to jump up," said the 5-5, 220-pound nose guard. "I saw the ball and laid on top of it."

North Medford first-year coach Nate Becksted had little to say following the lopsided loss.

"We got outplayed in every aspect of the game," he said.

North starting running back Evan Hisey sustained a rib injury on a big hit from Turituri in the first quarter and didn't returned. Tanner, who took quite a bit of punishment from the aggressive Comet defense, left the game in the third quarter with a leg injury and was finished for the night.

North Medford sophomore quarterback Mark Winans completed 9 of 11 passes for 75 yards and one touchdown late in the contest. Winans was 7 of 8 on a 73-yard scoring drive with 6:08 left in the game.

Reach reporter Frank Silow at 541-776-4480, or email fsilow@mailtribune.com

Crater's Corey Wynant slides away from a tackle on his way to the end zone during Friday's game. - Andy Atkinson