South Medford pummels No. 10 South Salem
SALEM — Facing its biggest test of the season Friday night, South Medford’s football team earned more than a passing grade — on both sides of the ball.
Senior quarterback Deacon Edgar threw for more than 300 yards and four touchdowns and rushed for two more TDs, leading the Panthers to a 48-35 upset of host South Salem, the No. 3-ranked team in Oregon’s Class 6A power rankings and No. 10 in the 6A coaches’ poll.
“We needed him to show some good decision-making tonight, because they’re a good blitzing team,” South Medford coach Bill Singler said. “He made some good decisions tonight at the line of scrimmage that allowed us to make some big plays against their blitzing scheme.”
Indeed, he did: With Edgar repeatedly hitting his targets, receivers Andrew Walker and Ty Henry combined for more than 250 receiving yards for unbeaten South Medford, which improved to 4-0 overall and 2-0 in South/Central Football Conference play.
Walker caught three first-half touchdown passes, and Henry hauled in one in the second on a clutch fourth-down effort to help give the Panthers a 41-28 lead with 13 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
“All those practices we had over the summer, all those routes and 7-on-7s (passing leagues), it showed tonight in our passing attack,” Edgar said. “We executed well.”
Singler could not agree more.
“South Salem’s got a group of talented receivers, but we do, too,” the coach said. “I told our guys that our receivers are as good as anybody’s across the board — they just have to go out and play like it. And they did tonight.”
Henry’s touchdown all but drove a dagger into South Salem’s heart, as it capped a drive that began at the Saxons’ 28-yard line thanks to an interception by junior defensive back Ryder Scheid — the third pick of the game by the Panthers’ defense.
“Those three picks put us in a position to win this game,” Edgar said.
It was Edgar’s second rushing TD of the night, though, that truly finished off South Salem (3-1, 1-1 SCFC). With South Medford facing fourth-and-4 from the Saxons’ 36-yard line, the quarterback burst up the middle to help put the Panthers ahead by 20 points.
South Medford led 27-21 at halftime after Edgar completed 16 of 31 passes for 271 yards and three touchdowns — all of them to Walker. Edgar found Walker in the right side of the end zone for an 18-yard TD to open the scoring in the first quarter, then fired a 13-yard strike to Walker in the back of the end zone later in the period to put the Panthers up 13-7.
It was Edgar’s third TD pass to Walker, however, that was the most impressive: The quarterback hit his receiver in stride near the left sideline, and Walker raced to the end zone for a 47-yard score that gave South Medford a 27-14 lead.
The only first-half Panthers touchdown that Walker didn’t score came courtesy of South Medford’s defense — and a couple of lucky breaks. Not even a minute after Walker’s second TD, South Salem made a couple of bad snaps deep in its own territory.
The second of those came with the Saxons facing third-and-27 from its own 18-yard line. The ball sailed into the end zone, and following a wild scramble, senior linebacker Dylan Espinosa pounced on it to give South Medford a defensive touchdown. Edgar ran in the two-point conversion to widen the Panthers’ lead to 21-7.
South Medford remained ahead for most of the contest. However, the Panthers did cough up the lead briefly in the third quarter when South Salem quarterback Daschel Smith ran the ball in from a yard out to tie the game at 27-27, and placekicker Jacob Mueller converted the extra point to put the Saxons ahead with 6:17 left in the period.
Edgar responded by marching South Medford down the field with a 10-play drive that included a 30-yard diving catch by Walker. Edgar ran the ball four times during that drive, twice for gains of 13 yards, and capped the drive with a 1-yard run that put the Panthers ahead to stay.
“We had to score,” said Singler. “It was one of those games where I thought it might be a 7-on-7 game and it ended up being that. But I’m also proud of the defense, they really stepped up when we needed to. It wasn’t pretty, we didn’t tackle well at times but we got it done.”
That isn’t to say South Medford was able to cruise comfortably the rest of the way, however. South Salem running back Braedy Vogt scored his third touchdown of the game with 8:54 to play, helping to narrow the score to 48-35, and on the Saxons’ last drive Smith guided his team all the way down to the Panthers’ 11-yard line. Had the Panthers yielded a touchdown there, the Saxons might have had a shot at escaping with a win on their home turf.
South Medford’s defense managed to stall the drive at the 11, forcing incompletions on South Salem’s final two plays to preserve the win.
“I’m just proud of these guys on the road against a really good team and finishing the game the way they did,” said Singler.
Logan Crocker recorded one of South Medford’s interceptions — a rare feat for a lineman — and fellow junior Gabe Staszak recorded a sack — no mean feat against South Salem’s hurry-up offense.
SM — Walker 18 pass from Edgar (Henry kick)
SS — Vogt 21 run (Mueller kick)
SM — Walker 13 pass from Edgar (kick blocked)
SM — Espinosa fumble recovery in end zone (Edgar run)
SS — Vogt 2 run (Mueller kick)
SM — Walker 47 pass from Edgar (kick failed)
SS — Wusstig 3 run (Mueller kick)
SS — Smith 1 run (Mueller kick)
SM — Edgar 1 run (pass failed)
SM — Henry 17 pass from Edgar (Scheid run)
SM — Edgar 36 run (DuFour kick)
SS — Vogt 4 run (Mueller kick)