Amos, Pelicans romp by Ashland

KLAMATH FALLS — The showdown for the Southern Sky Conference lead proved to be no contest and now four teams enter the final week of the regular season with playoff aspirations.

Klamath Union quarterback Jon Amos outdueled Ashland's Talon Haggard, throwing a career-high five touchdown passes as the Pelicans ended Ashland's six-game SSC winning steak with an emphatic 49-26 victory at Modoc Field on Friday night.

"They've got a lot of skill players who can hurt you," Ashland coach Charlie Hall said after watching his defense get twisted every which way, allowing 424 yards and a season-high in points against.

The Grizzlies (6-3, 2-1 SSC) missed a chance to earn at least a share of the SSC title and the league's top seed to the Class 5A state playoffs. Ashland fell into a second-place tie with Crater (5-4, 2-1 SSC) with one game remaining in the regular season.

Ironically, Ashland could beat Eagle Point next week and miss the playoffs if Crater beats KU (losing a three-way coin flip with KU and Crater). Yet the Grizzlies could lose to Eagle Point and still make the playoffs if Crater also losses (creating a three-way tie for second between Ashland, EP and Crater, which would be decided by a coin flip).

The Pelicans (6-3, 3-0 SSC) have won six straight after a 0-3 start and can clinch their first outright league title since 1976 with a win at Crater next week. A loss and KU could have to rely on a coin flip to gain one of the league's two playoff spots.

On Friday, the Pelicans grabbed a 14-0 lead in the first four minutes.

Amos was nearly flawless, completing his first 11 passes. He finished 16-of-18 passing for 235 yards and five scores. He was also crowned homecoming king at halftime.

"This was one of my better games," the son of coach Wayne Amos said. "The receivers were just getting open and I just tried to adjust to what the defense was giving me."

Which was nearly anything he wanted.

"It's the same movie we've seen several times this year," Hall lamented after KU ran for 189 yards and passed for 235.

The night started poorly for Ashland and got progressively worse. Amos marched the Pelicans 58 yards in six plays on the game's opening possession, capping it with a 15-yard touchdown pass to Josh Gibson for a quick 7-0 lead.

Haggard's evening started with an interception on Ashland's first play from scrimmage that was returned 25 yards for a touchdown by Gibson. Things didn't get much better for Haggard. Though he scored three times to increase his SSC-leading total to 32 touchdowns, he had his worst game of the season, completing just 10 of 29 passes for 140 yards and was held to 73 yards rushing on 15 carries.

"They did a good job containing us," Haggard said. "They made their tackles and just executed."

The Pelicans forced Haggard to stay in the pocket for much of the night, rather than let him escape and burn them on the perimeter in the manner he had done in wins over Marshfield, Bend, Crater and Mazama.

"They challenged him to be a quarterback instead of an athlete," Hall said. "They'd sit there and rush three and drop eight into coverage and then they'd blitz. They did a good job of mixing things up."

Haggard scored one of his touchdowns receiving, catching a cross-field pass from senior Charlie Sebrell for a 31-yard scamper up the right sideline that cut Klamath's lead to 14-7 late in the first quarter.

But the Pelicans responded with a 64-yard, nine-play drive that was climaxed by Amos' 40-yard pass to Eric Chadderdon to end the first quarter with a 21-7 lead.

KU led 28-7 at halftime and Ashland never pulled closer than 14 the rest of the way. Luke Porter ran for 74 yards on eight rushes and Gary Fonseca-Fisher added 72 on just seven carries.

The Pelicans' final score came with 2:25 left on a fourth-and-eight at the Ashland 34. Instead of running the ball into the center of the line, Amos hit Gibson on a pass in the flat and Dixon outran the Ashland defenders for a final touchdown.

"We were just trying to get a first down," Wayne Amos said.

Issa Shahin added a 60-yard scoring run in the final minutes for Ashland against KU's reserve defenders and finished with a season-high 113 yards on eight carries. But it was far too little, too late.

"All we can do is send our seniors out on a positive note and let the chips fall where they may," Hall said.

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