Higginson paves way for Crater
Thrust into a difficult situation already this season, Crater sophomore quarterback Ben Higginson certainly came of age Friday night — right when his team needed him most.
Serving as the replacement for injured starter Shane Wood, Higginson took his lumps but began to turn the corner a little in last week’s loss to Thurston.
On Friday, Higginson turned the corner time and again on visiting North Eugene, picking the perfect time to tuck and run while also keeping his eyes up for a pair of touchdown passes in leading the Comets to an impressive 35-0 victory at Dutch Meyer Field in Central Point.
“Ben grew up in the second half of that Thurston game and he just carried it over to this week and he showed a lot of poise for a sophomore,” said Crater head coach Berk Brown. “He was making the right reads and when it wasn’t there, he did a phenomenal job of taking what the defense gave him and scrambled and was making plays with his feet. I’m so proud of that kid, he’s come such a long way in the last two weeks.”
And after Crater had dropped three straight Midwestern League games, there was no question the result the Comets (2-3, 1-2 MWL) needed on this night.
“We needed that one,” Brown said with relief. “We needed that one bad.”
Higginson came through with a nice play-action fake on a fourth-and-3 play at the Highlanders’ 8-yard line and found Kayden Gardner for the first of his two touchdown grabs with 4:13 to go in the first quarter.
Crater doubled its advantage early in the third quarter when Aidan Chenoweth darted into the end zone on a 4-yard run that was opened up by a nice sealing block on the edge from Justin Brehm.
With a nice cushion in hand, after that Higginson and company did a good job of being patient and churning out first downs on offense to keep North Eugene star QB Devon Anderson at bay.
“One thing I don’t think they were ready for was Ben’s athleticism,” said Brown. “We were game-planning all week to spread them out one way or another and gave him some options in the passing game but if it wasn’t there, he was just so decisive when he would see green grass and just tuck it and run.”
Higginson’s 6-yard TD pass to Gardner made it 21-0 with 3:08 to go in the third quarter, then the Comets put North Eugene (1-4, 0-3) away with a 65-yard fumble return for a score by Andrew Schatz and a 23-yard scrambling run to paydirt by Higginson.
“He’s such a football kid and he loves it so much,” Brown said of the young QB. “He takes time during his lunch periods and is meeting with me and asking all the right questions right now, like when the defense does this, where should my eyes go and things like that. He’s really becoming a kid who understands football.”
Chenoweth provided a nice security blanket by racking up 114 yards rushing with his one TD.
“Aidan really ran the ball well tonight,” said Brown. “We made a mistake probably early on in the year of not feeding him the ball enough, so we came into this week and we manipulated our run game a little bit to allow for his strengths.”
Another change was in Brown handing the offensive play-calling duties over to longtime Crater assistant coach David Douglas after the head coach simply had too much on his plate.
“Up until this point I’d been spending a lot of time on both sides of the ball,” said Brown, “and this week I decided to go back to my roots and let our offensive staff call the plays because I trust them to do the job. They developed a good game plan and allowed me to focus on some details on the defensive side of the ball where I could share a few little nuances that our kids did a great job of recognizing between the white lines without me behind them.”
C — Gardner 8 pass from B. Higginson (Bramucci kick)
C — Chenoweth 4 run (Bramucci kick)
C — Gardner 6 pass from B. Higginson (Bramucci kick)
C — Schatz 65 fumble return (Bramucci kick)
C — B. Higginson 23 run (Bramucci kick)
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