Big third quarter dooms South
With its starting quarterback out and red-hot Roseburg coming to town, South Medford knew that it had to play a near-perfect game to hand the Indians their first loss of the season Friday night.
The shorthanded Panthers certainly gave it a go, but the Indians just proved to be a little too much.
Thanks in large part to a 21-point third quarter that swung the momentum from one side of Spiegelberg Stadium to the other, Roseburg was able to continue its unbeaten run to start the season with a 35-26 win over South Medford in Southwest Conference action.
“(Roseburg) had a really good third quarter and that was the difference in the game,” South Medford head coach Bill Singler said. “We couldn’t turn the ball over tonight, and we did our first drive of the third quarter. That hurt, that really hurt. We had to play almost a perfect game to beat them and we didn’t. But we gave it a go and we played well.”
With junior quarterback Deacon Edgar out due to a bruised back sustained in last Friday’s win over Grants Pass, South (1-6, 1-2 SWC) turned to senior Colton Samis under center to try and get the Panthers their second straight win.
When it came to how South approached things offensively, Singler said “a little bit” changed in the passing game, but not much when it came to the run game against SWC-leading Roseburg (7-0, 3-0).
The Indians jumped out to a 14-0 just over eight minutes into the game thanks to a pair of 4-yard touchdown runs from senior quarterback Colton Marsters and running back Knox Hubbard.
South, however, was able to bounce back after the tough start, with senior Carson Joe scoring a 7-yard touchdown run to cut Roseburg’s lead in half. Three minutes later, the Panthers tied the game at 14-all, turning an interception by junior Henry Williams into points, as senior Brycen Guches scored on a 5-yard run.
“We were just fighting every play and running the ball,” said Guches, who had 99 yards of total offense (62 rushing, 37 receiving). “We mixed in the pass a little bit, but we were mostly running the ball and our line definitely stepped up and had some nice blocks.”
Added Singler: “We just said, we were playing without our quarterback, we have a good athlete in Colton Samis and we trusted him. He got us into halftime at 14-all and I really attribute that to our offense buckling under when we got down 14-zip. We got a touchdown, got the ball back, scored again — that was huge going into halftime tied.”
Then came the third quarter.
And all the momentum South had going into halftime quickly vanished.
Samis was picked off on the Panthers’ second play of the second half, and the high-powered Indians — who entered the game averaging 38 points per game — struck three plays later, with Marsters throwing a 14-yard touchdown pass to Logan Klopfenstein to put Roseburg back ahead, 21-14.
Hubbard — who handled the bulk of the carries in the second half with starting running back Cayden Eckel out injured — made it 28-14 on a short TD run. Roseburg then recovered the onside kick — a play Singler described as a “great call” and a “back breaker” for South — and took on a 35-14 lead with 39 seconds to go in the third quarter on Marsters’ 1-yard score.
“I feel like we just let off the gas a little bit,” Guches said of Roseburg’s big third quarter. “We just let (Roseburg) score too much, gave them too much room to run the ball. When we didn’t get the onside kick, it definitely killed momentum.”
Marsters, the SWC’s leading rusher coming into the game, finished with 118 yards on 17 carries, while all of Eckel’s 108 yards came in the first half. Like Eckel, Hubbard carried the ball 16 times and finished with 80 yards and a touchdown.
“I thought defensively, we didn’t let their quarterback just run wild, we made some good tackles in there, made them earn their touchdowns,” Singler said. “We gave it a ballgame. I thought we hung in there.”
Guches ended the Indians’ run of 21 straight points with his second touchdown of the night, a 4-yard run where he tiptoed just inside the front-left pylon.
Joe finished with 98 yards of total offense, including a 24-yard touchdown pass from Samis for South’s final points of the night.
Samis, in his first start at quarterback, finished 5-of-10 for 97 yards with one TD and one interception. He also was South’s leading rusher, carrying the ball 12 times for 63 yards.
“It was good to see the next guy up and we just kept competing,” Singler said. “We played more physical — which is important for us because we’re not a physical team. But we played more physically tonight, and that’s good because it’s good for us down the road for the end of this year and going into next year.”
R — Marsters 4 run (Bartlett kick)
R — Eckel 4 run (Bartlett kick)
SM — Joe 7 run (Parker kick)
SM — Guches 5 run (Parker kick)
R — Klopfenstein 14 pass from Marsters (Bartlett kick)
R — Hubbard 2 run ( Bartlett kick)
R — Marsters 1 run (Bartlett kick)
SM — Guches 4 run (kick blocked)
SM — Joe 24 pass from Samis (run failed)
Reach reporter Danny Penza at 541-776-4469 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @penzatopaper.