North Medford snaps losing streak to South Medford
North Medford built its success this season on a diverse offensive attack and an opportunistic defense, and both were on full display Friday in the 34th annual Black and Blue Bowl against South Medford at Spiegelberg Stadium.
With the stands full on each side of the field, the Black Tornado broke open a 14-all contest with 17 straight points in the second quarter and then more than countered anything the Panthers had to offer in closing their crosstown rivals out for a 52-21 triumph.
North Medford (7-2, 3-1 SWC) snapped a three-game losing streak to South Medford with the resounding win and clinched a runner-up showing in Southwest Conference play over the third-place Panthers (6-3, 2-2). Both teams automatically advanced to the Class 6A state playoffs.
“I think tonight we played a lot more like a team than we have in the past because it was more important for us to win this game than individual statistics,” said second-year Black Tornado head coach Steve Turner. “That’s what I wanted tonight, I wanted us to play as a team.”
There certainly was a parade of top performers for North Medford on this night, with the Black Tornado scoring more Friday (52 points) than it had in the past four series tilts combined (51). It was the most points scored by North Medford since netting 60 in a 2003 win, the same season the Tornado advanced to the state championship game.
“Whatever went on in the past really doesn’t matter,” said Turner. “We were taking care of business for tonight and next week. I tell the guys we don’t look behind, we look ahead.”
With three touchdown runs by Devin Bradd and two by Josh Baptiste, two passing TDs by Brennan Stults and two of North’s four interceptions by Nolan Morris, North Medford showed it has plenty of reason to feel good as it looks ahead.
That went double for Stults, who missed last year’s rivalry game due to a broken collarbone but was part of a key second-quarter surge that saw him follow up a 20-yard field goal by Danny Cossette with a 28-yard scoring strike to Devyn Grafton and a 38-yarder to Morris.
“That was definitely the most fun I’ve ever had in my life,” said Stults, who completed 7 of 14 passes for 183 yards and two TDs. “I couldn’t ask for a better group of guys to be here with and the way it ended as my senior night at Spiegelberg Stadium, it’s been great. I went out perfect.”
It was 14-all through one quarter when a Tanner Gaoiran sack pinned South Medford deep in its own territory and ultimately led to Cossette’s field goal.
After that sack, the Panthers managed to gain only 2 yards on their next two series, the first ending with a punt that led to Stults’ connection with Grafton. The second series ended when Jayden Sandusky blasted South Medford quarterback Toren Tuttle on a scrambling effort that led to the ball sailing high into the night sky and tipping from North’s Luke Pugliano to Cole Zoller’s waiting hands for the first turnover of the game. Pugliano later had an interception in the red zone to deny the Panthers in the third quarter.
Three plays after Zoller’s interception, Morris was celebrating in the back of the end zone.
“They’re fast and they can catch the ball and that makes it a lot easier on me,” said Stults of his receivers. “And our O-line is very good, too. I love them all to death.”
Friday’s game also added some new names to the record book: Morris tied a Black and Blue single-game record with his two interceptions; South Medford’s Austin Boster tied the record for most receptions in a game after finishing with nine catches for 109 yards and two TDs; and Tuttle tied the record for most interceptions thrown (four).
Bradd was closing in on a single-game rushing record with 227 yards on 19 carries before being ejected with 5:40 to go in the third quarter after receiving his second taunting penalty of the game following his 9-yard TD run.
Bradd also had scoring runs of 2 and 9 yards, but will be ineligible to play in North Medford’s opening-round playoff game next Friday due to ejection policies.
After North Medford used a 70-yard run by Bradd to set up its first score, with the junior standout leaning in from 2 yards out, South Medford found an answer in the form of Tuttle’s passes to Boster and Carson Cota, who had one of his best showings of the season.
Tuttle hit Boster for a 12-yard TD to tie the game, and the senior QB later put his team up 14-7 with a 1-yard TD run of his own with 2:15 to go in the first quarter.
After that, though, momentum was almost entirely in the Tornado’s direction.
“We came out good and then we just lost it,” said Boster, who had his streak of 17 straight games with a TD snapped last week but would not be denied Friday. “We had it, we just lost it.”
Most of the credit for that, according to South coach Bill Singler, had to do with North Medford’s ability on this night.
“We really weren’t up to the task to stop them tonight,” said Singler. “They’re a very good football team. They run the ball well, they throw the ball well and they’re very physical, and we weren’t up to the task physically.”
“Bradd is just a beast running the football,” he added. “Our tackling was a little shoddy but he had a lot to do with that. And as I told the team, we weren’t going to outscore them. We couldn’t get into a shooting match.”
Tuttle completed 18 of 30 passes for 194 yards and South Medford managed only 126 yards rushing on a night when they may have lost senior Mason DeVries, who was already playing with a torn ACL.
Jett Carpenter had four catches for 76 yards for North.
NM — Bradd 2 run (Cossette kick)
SM — Boster 12 pass from Tuttle (Flores kick)
SM — Tuttle 1 run (Flores kick)
NM — Bradd 9 run (Cossette kick)
NM — FG Cossette 20
NM — Grafton 28 pass from Stults (kick failed)
NM — Morris 38 pass from Stults (Carpenter from Stults)
SM — Boster 33 pass from Tuttle (Flores kick)
NM — Bradd 9 run (Cossette kick)
NM — Baptiste 2 run (Cossette kick)
NM — Baptiste 3 run (Cossette kick)