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Panthers rumble past Axemen

South Medford got off to the type of start that veteran coach Bill Singler desired in a Southwest Conference football game against winless South Eugene.

The Panthers scored on their first two possessions en route to a 48-20 victory over the Axemen at Spiegelberg Stadium Friday.

“We wanted to come out and establish the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball,” said Singler. “We had good energy and that carried us through. We didn’t want them to get any momentum. Our challenge was to play well early.”

The Panthers (5-2, 3-2 SWC) took the game’s opening kickoff and drove for a touchdown. Hudson Thomas’ 41-yard run capped the march.

South’s next possession also ended in a touchdown, this time a 27-yard pass to freshman receiver Chase Cota from quarterback Craig Contreras.

“Chase was single-covered on that one,” said Singler, “and Craig made a nice throw in the corner of the end zone.”

South led 28-0 in the second quarter before a long kickoff return set up South Eugene’s first touchdown.

“Our special teams need some work,” said Singler. “We gave up a couple of big kickoff returns. Give South Eugene credit, when they got some short fields they took advantage.”

Thomas, who missed last week’s Roseburg game after getting injured against Grants Pass the week before, paced the South running game with 138 yards on 13 carries.

“We wanted to get Hudson Thomas back in the swing of things,” said Singler. “He looked like his old self. He made some good cuts. He’s a good multi-dimensional back.”

On defense, Singler had praise for the line play and singled out Will Cooney and Makai Manuwai. Also Singler was pleased with the performance of sophomore Parker Atkinson, who was filling in for an injured Blake Snyder at linebacker.

“(Atkinson) came in and flew around the field making plays,” said Singler. “He showed up around the ball and caught the eye of the coaches.”

The Panthers finished with 292 yards rushing and 95 through the air. The Axemen were limited to just 36 yards rushing but had 190 passing.

“We got done what we needed to get done early in the game,” said Singler. “We went into halftime with a comfortable lead and were able to play a lot of kids. It’s good to get them experience.”

South Eugene;0;7;7;6;—;20

South Medford;21;21;6;0;—;48

SM — Thomas 41 run (Cabrera kick)

SM — Cota 27 pass from Contreras (Cabrera kick)

SM — Manuwai 3 run (Cabrera kick)

SM — Manuwai 5 run (Cabrera kick)

SE — Fabrick 8 pass from Duncan (Newsome kick)

SM — Franklin 9 run (Cabrera kick)

SM — Contreras 1 run (Cabrera kick)

SE — Dixon 7 run (Newsome kick)

SM — Ibarra 20 run (kick failed)

SE — Dixon 1 run (kick failed)


South Medford's Dillon Alfinito breaks a tackle en route to a touchdown jaunt in the second quarter Friday in a Southwest Conference game against South Eugene. MAIL TRIBUNE / JAMIE LUSCH
Makai Manuwai of the Panthers charges in for a touchdown during the first quarter against South Eugene Friday. MAIL TRIBUNE / JAMIE LUSCH