North Medford gets first win in dramatic fashion
Never a doubt.
At least, that’s what the North Medford High football team was telling itself after pulling off a dramatic, 28-21 win over Sherwood at Spiegelberg Stadium Friday night.
The Black Tornado watched as its lead shrank from 28-7 early in the fourth quarter to 28-21 and Sherwood got a chance to tie the game with one final drive.
Sherwood started at its own 25, and began chipping away at the North defense, which was also whistled for a personal foul penalty spotting the Bowmen an extra 15 yards. But as Sherwood drove inside the North 25, the clock began to work against the run-heavy team and the Black Tornado tightened up.
With the clock ticking under 40 seconds, Sherwood quarterback Bjorn Bergstrom dropped back to from the 13-yard line and started to take off, until he was met by a sophomore defensive lineman Terrel Kim, who tackled Bergstrom and jarred the ball loose.
Though Sherwood was able to recover, it only had time for one last play, an incomplete pass in the end zone as the clock expired. A flag on the play briefly delayed North’s celebration, but once the referee signaled it was against Sherwood, the home team stormed the field.
“I never really had a doubt we were going to win,” said senior Bryce Dyer, who caught two touchdowns from senior quarterback Mason Warren, the second one giving North a three-score advantage late in the third quarter. “I always had confidence in our defense. I knew that if our defense did let up, our offense would pick us up, too. I never really had a doubt. I knew that we’d fight against whatever we had thrown at us and I knew we’d win this game.”
In the win, North also claimed its first for head coach Nathan Chin, who was doused with a Gatorade cooler by his players for good measure. Chin, though, was quick to deflect from himself and talk about what his team just went through.
“You go through adversity as a team, and if you can go through that and come out on the good end, you learn a lot from that,” Chin said. “I’m super proud of them of just being able to stay composed ... and be able to come out with the win, not start pointing fingers. We came together, rather than apart.”
The Black Tornado started the game at a quick pace, mixing in runs from Ty Pugliano, with Warren hitting AJ Pugliano for a 34-yard gain then Dyer for a 5-yard score.
Sherwood’s Seth Glenn matched the score on a 4-yard scamper, but North began to distance itself after that.
On the following drive, Warren hit AJ Pugliano with a 50-yard strike over the middle and the sophomore outran the defense to the end zone.
Then on its final drive of the half, Ty Pugliano broke a 71-yard rushing touchdown to give North a 21-7 edge heading to halftime.
Ty Pugliano tallied 13 carries for 140 yards, while AJ Pugliano hauled in four catches for 111 yards and Dyer added four catches and 53 yards.
“The offense was great the entire game. Sure, we didn’t put up as many points, but it doesn’t mean we aren’t playing as well,” Dyer said. “First half, Ty broke that big run — that was huge going into the half.”
With Dyer adding his second score with 3:32 left in the third quarter on an 18-yard twisting, toe-tapping grab courtesy of a Warren pass, the Black Tornado were threatening to pull away for good. Sherwood thought otherwise.
The Bowmen’s Wing-T offense, leaning heavily on Glenn and Nolan Scott, dialed up seven straight run plays on its next possession. Facing a 4th-and-1 from the North 29, Glenn bounced a run outside and found the end zone, cutting the North lead to 28-14.
Sherwood then executed a near-perfect onside kick, and got a quick score from Glenn — his third — set up by a 24-yard connection between Bergstrom and receiver Oliver Fisher.
North got back to its bread and butter with Warren hitting Dyer and AJ Pugliano on consecutive passes for a combined 50 yards. But the drive stalled at the Sherwood 20-yard line. North attempted a fake field goal pass, which Sherwood sniffed out easily, giving the Bowmen one final drive.
In the end, North’s defense made the stop it needed — a situation the head coach told his team to prepare for earlier in the game.
“I tell the kids we have the best football in front of us, in that we have to keep getting better and better,” Chin said. “You saw some good flashes of things that we can do. If we keep on building on those, which I know we will, I know that they’ll come out and have a great Monday practice and we’ll keep on moving forward.”
N — Dyer 5 pass from Warren (Dominguez kick)
S — Glenn 4 run (Rieger kick)
N — A. Pugliano 50 pass from Warren (Dominguez kick)
N — T. Pugliano 71 run (Dominguez kick)
N — Dyer 18 pass from Warren (Dominguez kick)
S — Glenn 29 run (Rieger kick)
S — Glenn 3 run (Rieger kick)
Reach Will Denner at 541-776-4479 or firstname.lastname@example.org.