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Comets come up short in loss to Grants Pass

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CENTRAL POINT — Crater saw its first chance to topple Grants Pass in nearly a decade slip out of its fingers Friday in a game where neither team was willing to give an inch at Dutch Meyer Field.

The Comets built a 13-7 halftime lead but the second half was not kind to the hometown boys, opening the door for Grants Pass to sneak away with a 21-13 triumph.

Crater turned the ball over on its first three possessions of the first half — two interceptions and one fumble — and five of its six possessions overall in the final 24 minutes to hinder any chance it had of beating the Cavemen for the first time since the Comets won in back-to-back years (2011 and 2012). Those wins, one in overtime, snapped a losing streak that dated back to 1993.

“I think after we watch this game film, we’re going to look at it on the offensive side of the ball and, all credit to Grants Pass, feel like we beat ourselves a little bit tonight,” said Crater head coach Berk Brown. “With the turnovers and penalties after big plays, we’re going to look back at it and realize we left some points on the board for sure.”

Grants Pass (1-1) was able to strike first about three minutes into the contest when Devik Chiang slipped through the seam and quarterback Hunter Gonzales lofted a perfect ball against a drawn-in defense to give Chiang nothing but open space in front of him.

That 7-0 lead was short-lived, however, as Blake Eaton teamed with Trevor Jaasko to get the offense rolling before Dawson Douglas somehow got behind the defense on fourth-and-1 from the 25-yard line for an easy equalizer.

That score held true until early in the second quarter, when Eaton stood in the pocket and used a great play-action fake to suck in the defense and make room for a 25-yard scoring strike to Jaasko. An errant extra-point attempt followed, keeping Crater’s lead at 13-7.

As was the case for most of the night, the defense on each side took over from there. For Crater (1-1), Jimmy Jordahl, Ryken deVilleneuve, Jaasko and Brady Eaton made some big hits to help keep the 6A Cavemen at bay.

The second half, however, was all downhill for the Comets.

The game had already started with Crater having to replace three offensive linemen with Caden Lasater at center and Sage Wilson joining Jordahl as new faces to fend off a physical GP defensive cast.

“Those guys stepped in on short notice and did an outstanding job,” said Brown. “They played really, really hard, I’m just really proud of them.”

The list of wounded got longer when Douglas had to be helped off the field with leg cramps on the second play of the third quarter and couldn’t return until there was about nine minutes to play.

A deflected pass led to the first of two Josef Miner interceptions for GP, and the Cavemen used that momentum to spearhead a 66-yard drive on 10 plays to take the lead on a 30-yard hookup from Gonzales to Noah Martinez.

Three plays later, Jaasko took a handoff to the right side but had the ball pop loose and into the waiting arms of Braeden Lesina for another turnover.

Crater’s defense was able to hold form but on the Comets’ next offensive play, Jaasko’s 12th catch of the night was across the middle and he took a hit as he angled for more yards and the ball again went free and was recovered this time by Miner.

The score still stood at 14-13 when Crater forced a fumble on its own 21 with 3:35 to play.

Needing one last drive to cement a long-awaited victory, Crater saw Eaton sacked by Kai Perez on first down and when the senior QB had no choice but to force the issue on fourth down, his pass sailed a little too far for its target and wound up with Miner catching it in stride and returning it for a 27-yard score to seal the game.

Lesina, for good measure, added a third interception of the night for GP in the final minute.

Jaasko finished with 12 catches for 175 yards and one score, while Douglas had eight catches for 71 yards to pace the Comets. Cameron Kramer led the rushing attack with 10 carries for 68 yards.

“I feel like that game was ours all the way,” said Jaasko. “Obviously I made two huge mistakes. I could’ve had a 1,000 yards (receiving) tonight, but making those two mistakes cost us the game.”

As his teammates rallied around him, the senior found a way to look forward to next week’s showdown with North Medford.

“We’re definitely going to push this one aside and keep moving forward like we’ve been doing all year,” said Jaasko. “We’ve just got to keep grinding like we have been.”

Eaton completed 24 of 40 passes for 288 yards, while Gonzales was 14-for-24 passing for 151 yards and Jayden Brown ran 25 times for 116 yards to boost the Cavemen.

GRANTS PASS 21, CRATER 13

Grants Pass7077—21

Crater7600—13

GP — Chiang 69 pass from Gonzales (Anderson kick)

C — Douglas 25 pass from Bl. Eaton (Braumucci kick)

C — Jaasko 25 pass from Bl. Eaton (kick failed)

GP — Martinez 30 pass from Gonzales (Anderson kick)

GP — Miner 27 interception return (Anderson kick)

Have a story idea? Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, khenry@rosebudmedia.com, www.facebook.com/krishenryMT or www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry

Grants Pass at Crater Friday night football in Central Point. Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune
Grants Pass at Crater Friday night football in Central Point. Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune
Grants Pass at Crater Friday night football in Central Point. Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune
Grants Pass at Crater Friday night football in Central Point. Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune
Grants Pass at Crater Friday night football in Central Point. Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune
Grants Pass at Crater Friday night football in Central Point. Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune
{ }Crater's Brady Eaton, right, goes up for the ball broken up by Grants Pass's Asher Yriarte during the 1st quarter.{ }Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune
Crater's defense stop Grants Pass's Jayden Brown short of the first down during the 4th quarter.{ }Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune
Grants Pass at Crater Friday night football in Central Point. Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune
Grants Pass at Crater Friday night football in Central Point. Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune
Grants Pass at Crater Friday night football in Central Point. Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune
Grants Pass at Crater Friday night football in Central Point. Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune
Grants Pass at Crater Friday night football in Central Point. Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune