North Medford gets defensive, routs Mt. View
Everyone loves a good offense, and eighth-ranked North Medford had shown plenty of it entering Friday’s nonconference football clash with Mountain View at Spiegelberg Stadium.
The Black Tornado defense, however, rose to the occasion and stole the spotlight on this night, limiting Mountain View to 161 yards of total offense with four forced turnovers.
North Medford came 56 seconds shy of a shutout before having to settle for a 38-7 triumph that kept it unbeaten at 4-0 heading into Southwest Conference play.
“It should’ve been a shutout,” said North Medford junior Devin Bradd, who joined his teammates in lamenting the only unsatisfying part of the victory. “The defense played really great. We had a good opportunity for offense because our defense played really good today.”
The first of two interceptions by junior Nolan Morris set up the first of Bradd’s two rushing touchdowns, and Chance Costanzo returned an interception 45 yards for a score just 47 seconds into the second half to all but secure North Medford’s victory.
“I think our defensive coaches were locked in this week,” said Black Tornado head coach Steve Turner. “It was a real challenge for us but we really looked at it and said it’s something we wanted to do. The defense played well. Our secondary had three (interceptions) and dropped one, so that’s the kind of football we want to play.”
Nathan Prince recovered a fumble deep into North Medford territory in the final three minutes for a fourth takeaway, but the Tornado reserves were unable to run out the clock and a blocked punt by Luke Roberts gave Mountain View (1-3) a final opportunity to avoid a shutout with the ball at the Tornado 10-yard line. Roberts ran it in from 3 yards out two plays later.
The Bend-based Cougars entered the game averaging 40 points. Last week, they amassed 487 yards of total offense — 378 on the ground — against Grants Pass and in their season opener the Cougars totaled 481 yards of total offense.
“They kind of run a similar offense,” said North senior Jett Carpenter, “so we really preached this week that they were a run-heavy team and we had to make sure to stop that aspect of their game. Coming into this game we knew if we could do that we could pull out the win.”
It also didn’t hurt that Carpenter and company came through on the offensive side, with the 6-foot-4 standout making an overhead grab of a 33-yard offering from quarterback Brennan Stults to open the scoring with three minutes to play in the first quarter.
“I was looking over my shoulder and it kind of looked like he overthrew me,” said Carpenter. “I knew I wasn’t going to get there so I had to put my head straight up to get faster down the field and just watch for that ball to come into my vision. Once I saw it, I just put out my hands and luckily I got to it.”
Bradd tacked on a 32-yard TD run on the first play of the second quarter, and Devyn Grafton’s 20-yard TD reception from Stults with 31 seconds to go before halftime gave North Medford a key 21-0 cushion at the break.
“When we hit them early like we did, I think it just put a lot of pressure and weight on their shoulders,” said Carpenter. “Passing isn’t the strongest aspect of their game and if we could get them to pass and get them into long yardage where they couldn’t run, we knew that we were sitting in a pretty good spot.”
Mountain View star senior running back Keenan Harpole was bottled up pretty well after rushing for 231 yards and four scores last week against the Cavemen. Harpole finished with 79 yards on 22 carries as the Cougars totaled only 134 yards rushing while sophomore quarterback Jakoby Moss was pressured into 2-for-12 passing for 27 yards and three interceptions.
Beyond putting Mountain View into a hole in the first half, Turner said another key to the outcome was his team’s defensive depth. Turner served as defensive coordinator under Rod Rumrey at North Medford from 1988-97 so that side of the ball has always been near and dear to his heart.
“We were circulating guys in and out,” said Turner, who went 40-7 in his four years as head coach at Mountain View before eventually rejoining the Tornado. “A lot of players played on defense tonight so we stayed fresh. (The Cougars) don’t play a lot of guys so it was just a matter of time. We put a lot of big bodies out there. It was fun, I enjoyed it.”
Bradd finished with 167 yards rushing on 14 carries to help North post 253 yards rushing overall.
Stults completed 8 of 13 passes for 107 yards, with Carpenter hauling in four passes for 62 yards and Grafton catching three passes for 36 yards in a game that was played pretty close to the vest in the second half after some big-play efforts in the opening 24 minutes.
“We do a lot more things than we did last year,” said Turner. “We try to keep people off balance, and we hit some big plays early and did stuff that they hadn’t seen so it was kind of nice to see that stuff come out. We’d been saving some of that.”
Now the key will be how much North Medford still has in reserve with an attention-getting SWC opener one week away at Sheldon, last year’s state runner-up but winless heading into Friday’s games.
“We’re starting conference next week with Sheldon and they’re always good, despite their record,” said Carpenter. “We’re 4-0 and we can celebrate tonight but when Sunday film comes and Monday practice comes, we’ve got to move on and get ready for our conference opener.”
NM — Carpenter 33 pass from Stults (Cosette kick)
NM — Bradd 32 run (Cosette kick)
NM — Grafton 20 pass from Stults (Cosette kick)
NM — Costanzo 45 interception return (Cosette kick)
NM — Bradd 30 run (Cosette kick)
NM — FG Cosette 36
MV — Roberts 3 run (O’Connell kick)
Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.facebook.com/krishenryMT or www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry