North Medford buckles down to tame Vikings
When it was time to make a play, North Medford senior Ty Pugliano delivered in a big way Friday night at Spiegelberg Stadium.
With his team in a dogfight tied 13-all in the fourth quarter, Pugliano pulled off his second remarkable catch and run of the contest to zip his way into the end zone and allow the Black Tornado to take control for good in a 27-13 victory over previously unbeaten North Salem.
“Our trusty, trusty Ty Pug,” said North Medford head coach Nathan Chin in pure appreciation.
“He is that kid,” added Chin. “He is that player that when you coach him and you have him on your team and you know there’s a play that needs to be made, you know he’s going to make it. That’s just what happens when you have Ty Pug on your team. If it’s the ball in his hand or he’s on defense making a play there on the edge for a tackle for a loss, he just gets it done.”
After a second field goal by JT Knobloch-Scott, who connected from 25 and 35 yards to keep his team in contention, North Medford found itself in a third-and-10 situation at the North Salem 44-yard line early in the fourth quarter.
That’s when the Black Tornado again put the ball in the hands of the team’s anchor, and Pugliano didn’t disappoint.
Quarterback Caiden Lacey drew in the Vikings defense but Pugliano still had heavy traffic around him when he took in the swing pass and made his way downfield. After a quick shift and shielding blocks by David Fuiva and Connor Cesaro, Pugliano made his way toward the right sideline then weaved and spun his way to daylight and willed his way into the end zone for the go-ahead score.
“Both of those (screen) calls were great offensively,” said Pugliano, who scored the game’s first TD in similar fashion on a 50-yard effort. “ That second one, I knew past the first hole there was one guy to beat. I wasn’t really planning anything after that pre-snap, I just knew David had to get to the outside backer if I was going to get the first down. After that I just read my receiver blocks and made a few cuts. In my mind, I’m not thinking score, but I just made a guy miss and then another one I guess and I was in the end zone.”
The win was North Medford’s second straight to open South/Central Football Conference play and allowed the Black Tornado to move to 2-2 overall.
North Salem (3-1, 1-1 SCFC) had run roughshod over its first three opponents but the Black Tornado defense was able to rise to the occasion in impressive fashion, save for two or three big plays by the Vikings. North Medford held its foe to 43 yards rushing on 30 attempts despite the presence of one of the Class 6A’s top rushers in Josiah Davis, and the Black Tornado used interceptions by Isaiah Chavez and Matthew Griepsma to slow heralded QB TC Manumaleuna.
Manumaleuna completed 10 of 24 passes for 173 yards, with touchdown passes of 45 and 15 yards to Pierce Walker. The 6-foot-2, 205-pound junior QB, who also had a 54-yard connection with Erick Gonzalezz, holds offers from Florida State, Louisville, Miami and Oregon but was under duress all night from a front line of AJ Pugliano, Connor Trinca, Trey Kennedy-Coleman and Easton Abbott.
“That was huge, especially for our defense,” Ty Pugliano said of the win. “Besides those two plays, we played stout and that’s just a credit to the guys up front and our preparation. We knew what they were going to run and we shut down their bread and butter. Shout out to our coaches, that was big for us.”
Ty Pugliano finished with 95 yards rushing on 22 carries and added the two receptions for 94 yards. When he exited the field for a rare breather, North Medford popped another big fourth-quarter play as Alexander Angulo took his first handoff of the game and zipped through the defensive for a 56-yard score that salted away the victory with about six minutes to play.
“We hadn’t had a lot of offensive snaps and it just hadn’t gotten to a point when we were shuffling backs,” Chin said of Angulo’s limited use to that point. “Ty needed a rest at that point after he’d just gotten us a tough first down, we call a play and Diggy takes it to the house. It’s pretty awesome when you have anyone in the backfield like Ty and Diggy who are capable of those kind of plays, and our offensive line did a really good job of opening things up for them.”
Also helpful was the field-changing abilities of Knobloch-Scott, who had a couple big punts to pin back the Vikings and then was clutch with his two field goals.
A defensive stop late in the second quarter gave North the ball at its own 40-yard line with 57 seconds to go in the half, and Lacey quickly marched his team downfield with a series of sideline passes to Cesaro and AJ Pugliano as the senior QB took what North Salem was giving him.
The Tornado reached as far as the North Salem 8 before time ran down and North had to settle for a 25-yard field goal by Knobloch-Scott as time expired to make it 13-10 at the break. The senior’s 35-yarder was the only points earned in the third quarter by either team.
Lacey finished 14-for-25 for 206 yards, two TDs and one interception, with Cesaro hauling in five passes for 40 yards, Chavez netting 38 yards on four catches and AJ Pugliano catching three passes for 34 yards.
As a team, North Medford racked up 368 total yards on offense.
“I’m super proud of the kids and the grit that they showed through the first half going into the second half,” said Chin.
NM — T. Pugliano 50 pass from Lacey (Knobloch-Scott kick)
NS — Walker 45 pass from Manumaleuna (Davis kick)
NS — Walker 15 pss from Manumaleuna (pass failed)
NM — FG Knobloch-Scott 25
NM — FG Knobloch-Scott 35
NM — T. Pugliano 44 pass from Lacey (Knobloch-Scott kick)
NM — Angulo 56 run (Knobloch-Scott kick)
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