Never a doubt
It started with a fake punt and ended with a running clock.
In between, it was total domination for South Medford as the sixth-ranked Panthers celebrated homecoming with a 52-10 rout of South Salem at Spiegelberg Stadium Friday night.
South Medford junior Jaylin Parnell scored four touchdowns, Robbie Patterson threw three TD passes — two to Chase Cota — and the Panthers (2-2) defense limited the visiting Saxons (2-2) to 175 yards of total offense in the runaway victory.
“We’ve played like that all year, which has been nice,” said South Medford head coach Bill Singler. “When you get off to a good start it just kind of carries over. The offense gets confidence and the defense plays harder and the other team, all of a sudden you have them on their heels. I hope we can keep that kind of momentum going in each and every game.”
The Panthers would be hard pressed to find more of a complete-game outing than Friday. South Medford built a 21-3 lead in the opening eight minutes and entered the locker room at halftime with a 45-3 cushion and all the respect in the world from Saxons head coach Scott DuFault.
“This is an awfully talented group,” DuFault said of the Panthers. “We haven’t seen speed like that all year. They can run and pass, and defensively, they’re pretty physical. I think they’re going to be a tough team for a lot of people, but we didn’t give them the kind of game we wanted to tonight.”
Patterson, who doubles as South Medford’s punter, caught the Saxons napping on the game’s first series when on fourth-and-3, instead of kicking the ball away, he lofted a perfectly placed ball to Cota for a 49-yard score.
“They were playing press against one of our better receivers and I think we had a better matchup out there,” said Patterson, who completed 8 of 11 passes for 175 yards. “Bill likes to take advantage of good matchups, so we just took a shot and that’s kind of what got everything started.”
Boy did it.
After South Salem worked its way downfield for a 34-yard field goal by Tony Maldonado, Panthers junior Kaleb Franklin turned on the jets for a 90-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to answer in a big way.
“We gave up those two early scores on just plays we shouldn’t,” said DuFault. “It’s fourth down and they’re punting and we lose our eyes and let them run a fade on us, and on the kickoff return we got out of position. Those kind of things you can’t do against teams like this.”
It may have only been 14-3 at that point but the snowball kept building. After a defensive stand, it took a 20-yard run by Franklin and 24-yard pass from Patterson to Parnell to make it 21-3 with four minutes still left in the first quarter.
South marched 79 yards in 10 plays on its next possession to make it 28-3 on a 1-yard plunge by Parnell, then needed only three plays to score again two minutes later as Cota added a beautiful over-the-shoulder grab and took it 51 yards for a touchdown.
Following a 32-yard field goal by Jaalen Owens that made it 38-3, South Salem saw bad turn to worse after an 18-yard punt left the Panthers with a short field. Parnell covered the 35 yards in two carries for a score just before halftime that made it 45-3.
“Coming into the game, we weren’t really sure who their best athletes were and didn’t really know much about them,” said Cota, “so we were just going to try all of our stuff and then it ended up working out.”
The Panthers held South Salem to 98 yards of total offense in the first half compared to 327 of its own, and another 1-yard TD run by Parnell midway through the third quarter mercifully enacted a running clock by virtue of the 45-point rule.
South Salem scored on a 2-yard pass from Harrison Broadus to Conrad Thompson with nine minutes to play for the final margin.
“When you have kids like this that care about their football, these are the kind of results you get,” said Singler. “But the bulk of our schedule starts now. We have North (Medford) looming (next Friday) so it will be a big week.”
Parnell finished with 12 carries for 118 yards as South Medford amassed 261 yards on the ground and 436 yards in total offense. Cota had three catches for 109 yards in a very efficient outing spearheaded by Patterson.
“We’re a pretty confident team,” said Patterson. “We’ve been practicing well and playing well and we’re just going to try to build off this and get better each week.”
Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, email@example.com, www.facebook.com/krishenryMT or www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry