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PREP FOOTBALL: Bend rumbles by South Medford

BEND — South Medford had the start it wanted but couldn’t sustain that momentum as Bend won the battle in the trenches to pull away for a 41-27 victory in nonleague football Saturday.

The Panthers built a 14-0 lead in the opening nine minutes but the Lava Bears, behind a potent double-wing running game, came roaring back with 21 straight points and the game began to shift.

“The offense they run is hard to prepare for in three or four days,” said South Medford coach Bill Singler. “That’s a very unconventional offense with a lot of power football and misdirection. It’s like football in a phone booth. I thought our guys held up for as young as we are on both sides of the ball and were in pretty good shape for a while there, but in the second half they wore us down a little bit.”

South Medford fell behind 35-21 before a fourth-quarter touchdown run by Carson Joe gave hope for a comeback.

On fourth-and-eight from the Panthers’ 28-yard line, however, Bend came up with the surprise play of the game when quarterback Seve Castillo lofted a pass into the left corner of the end zone that was hauled in for a score by Blake Groshong over two defenders.

“That kind of took the wind out of our sails in the fourth quarter,” said Singler.

South Medford quarterback Deacon Edgar got off to a hot start, completing his first eight attempts for 97 yards, but increasingly came under pressure as the Panthers failed to get much going on the ground. Edgar unofficially completed 15 of 28 passes for 239 yards, with two touchdowns and one interception.

The Panthers collectively ran 22 times for 37 yards, with Joe netting 15 yards on 11 carries and Colton Samis adding a 13-yard run.

South Medford (0-2) used a big kickoff return from Brycen Guches to set up a short field on the game’s first possession, and Edgar capped the drive with a 1-yard touchdown dive.

South Medford then forced a Castillo fumble on the next drive, and Edgar dialed up a 15-yard catch and run by Samis to help the Panthers build a 14-0 cushion.

“We had two scoring drives in our first two possessions and you can’t start any better than that,” said Singler.

Bend, however, had no illusions of going away and used its potent double-wing rushing attack to put South Medford on its heels.

Malakai Nutter burst through the defense for consecutive TD runs of 40, 6 and 3 yards to give the Lava Bears (2-0) their first lead of the game at 21-14 with 2:33 to go in the first half. Nutter finished the half with 110 yards on 12 carries.

South Medford appeared to be destined to head into halftime with a deficit but linebacker Dylan Espinosa dislodged the football from Bend running back Jack Sorenson and senior Jackson Robertson swooped in for the fumble recovery at the Bend 33-yard line with 43 seconds to go in the half.

After losing 2 yards on a keeper by Edgar, the South Medford quarterback was able to pull the defense in on a dropback and drop the ball off just in time to Joe, who did the rest as he raced down the right sideline for a 35-yard game-tying score.

“We got to halftime just where we wanted to be,” said Singler. “We just wanted to be in position to win, so I was really happy with that.”

The second half started with a 34-yard touchdown run by Jack Sorenson and after Nutter tallied his fourth TD run, Bend could see a 2-0 start on the horizon and used its steady rushing attack to keep the Panthers at bay.

Nutter finished with 33 carries for 231 yards to help close out the contest, with Sorenson adding 68 yards on 11 carries and Ben Martin contributing 45 on 10 carries.

Overall, Bend rushed for 359 yards and Castillo completed 2 of 3 passes for 37 yards and one interception by Gio Livingston.

For the Panthers, Andrew Walker finished with five catches for 64 yards, Samis had three catches for 66 yards and Joe had four catches for 57 yards. Guches (two catches, 24 yards) and Josh Phillips (28-yard catch) also came up with key completions.

“I thought all in all our guys really competed and took steps from Week 1 to Week 2,” said Singler, “and that’s what we’re looking for.”

South Medford14706—27

Bend714146—41

SM — Edgar 1 run (kick failed)

SM — Samis 15 pass from Edgar (Walker pass from Edgar)

B — Nutter 40 run (Castillo kick)

B — Nutter 6 run (Castillo kick)

B — Nutter 3 run (Castillo kick)

SM — Joe 35 pass from Edgar (Parker kick)

B — Sorenson 34 run (Castillo kick)

B — Nutter 4 run (Castillo kick)

SM — Joe 7 run (kick blocked)

B — Groshong 28 pass from Castillo (kick blocked)

STAYTON 49, PHOENIX 0: At Myrtle Creek, Stayon scored four touchdowns in the second quarter en route to a resounding victory over Phoenix.

Stayon senior Nick Frith was all over the field for the Eagles, scoring the team’s first touchdown on a 45-yard punt return in the first quarter, before hauling in touchdown passes of 33 and 52 yards from junior quarterback Cody Leming to give Stayton (1-1) a 20-0 lead less than a minute into the second quarter.

Leming also connected with Travis King for a 15-yard score. Eli Brown and Easton Hughes each added a rushing touchdown to give the Eagles a 42-0 lead at halftime.

The Pirates were held to 44 yards of total offense, though quarterback Ryan Watts tallied 54 yards on five completions, including a pair to receiver Jackson Selden for 34 yards.

Phoenix (0-2) was originally slated to host the game at its home stadium, but with air quality concerns in the Rogue Valley, the decision was made Thursday to move the game to South Umpqua High School.

Stayton132907—49

Phoenix0000—0

S — Frith 45 punt return (kick failed)

S — Frith 33 pass from Leming (Frith kick)

S — Frith 52 pass from Leming (Frith kick)

S — King 15 pass from Leming (Frith kick)

S — Brown 1 run (Leming run)

S — E. Hughes 5 run (Frith kick)

S — H. Hughes (Frith kick)

Carson Joe, South Medford footballAndy Atkinson / Mail Tribune