South Medford’s A.J. Palazzolo gets interviewed after tossing a 66-yard touchdown pass to West Albany’s Will Murphy in the fourth quarter.

Locals help end South's skid at Les Schwab Bowl

PORTLAND — South Medford quarterback A.J. Palazzolo had something of a miserable game at the Les Schwab Bowl until late, when he hooked up with Will Murphy of West Albany on a 66-yard touchdown pass.

Palazzolo had a smile on his face prior to the pass because the South had already sewn up the game, leading 17-6 with less than three minutes left, but the pass ignited Palazzolo.

"I was already happy because we were winning," Palazzolo said, "but that just made it so much better because he's one of my best friends, and we had been talking about hooking up in the game for five months.

"That was a great way to end my playing career in Oregon."

The Palazzolo-to-Murphy pass pushed the score to 24-6 in the annual bowl game that pits players from Class 6A and 5A teams in Portland against players from south of Portland.

The South victory, in front of a crowd of 6,567, ended a three-game losing streak, something the South players said was a result of their practice habits.

"We wanted it more," said Ashland lineman Matt Lipski. "We did the work all week because we wanted to win, and it showed on the field."

Both teams had an equal number of first downs (15) and a relatively equal total yardage — 267 for the South to 254 for the North — but the South's defense held the North to 6-for-16 on third-down opportunities and allowed just one score when the North got inside its 20.

The South scored on all three of its drives inside the North's 20, including twice on touchdown passes from Beau Walker of Bend to Jordan Bishop of West Salem.

Walker finished 9 of 17 passing for 74 yards.

Palazzolo finished at just 5 of 18 and had an interception, but the touchdown bumped his yardage to 112. Murphy finished with three catches for 94 yards.

Palazzolo said he and Murphy met because they had siblings who met in college and they graduated in the same year.

The game marked the end of high school careers for Lipski, Palazzolo and D.J. Titus of South Medford, who said he enjoyed the entire week of action.

"I've never played with so many guys on defense who were so fast to the ball," said Titus, who had four tackles in the game. "Whenever I'd hit a guy, there'd be five guys right behind me helping out."

Titus, who is headed for the College of the Siskiyous to play both football and baseball, engaged the South sideline as one of it's emotional leaders, which helped the team outscore the North 14-0 in the second half.

"He definitely helped keep us up," Lipski said. "He did it all week, especially joking. He made a name for himself as the jokester of the team."

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