Comets lose playoff heartbreaker

ALBANY — The Crater football team’s run in the Class 5A state playoffs came to an end in the opening round Friday after South Albany kicked the go-ahead field goal with eight-tenths of a second left to take a 17-16 lead, completing a fourth-quarter rally that included four lead changes.

The Rebels ultimately prevailed 23-16 with after Crater’s last-gasp scramble to get the ball down the field with a series of laterals resulted in a turnover recovered by South Albany in the end zone on the game’s final play.

The Comets were in winning position, capturing a 16-14 lead with 28 seconds left on Noah Cline’s 24-yard touchdown catch from quarterback Trever Davis. Crater’s extra-point attempt was blocked.

An immediate response on the kickoff took South Albany to Crater’s 48-yard line with less than 20 seconds remaining. On the drive’s first play, Rebels quarterback Jake Costello completed a pass to the Comets’ 20, setting the stage for kicker Oswaldo Ramirez, who saved South Albany’s season with a 28-yard field goal.

“(South Albany) went on a really long drive that took up most of the quarter and ended going up (14-10) but we hung in there and put a drive together,” said Crater coach Randy Waite on his team’s final drive that began with 3 minutes, 18 seconds remaining. “That drive was really indicative of how we played this year. Our kids kept playing each play and that’s a sign of kids that don’t quit.”

The Comets closed their season with a 5-5 record after finishing fourth in the Midwestern League. Sixth-seeded South Albany (6-4), champion of the Mid-Willamette Conference, will travel to take on No. 3 seed Hermiston next Friday.

Crater jumped on the scoreboard in the first quarter on a Tony Flores 1-yard touchdown plunge and held the 7-0 lead until the Rebels evened the score with a TD run of their own in the second quarter by running back Ray Wilson.

Following a scoreless third quarter, the Comets’ Davis connected on a 42-yard field goal to help his team regain the lead, 10-7. Gunner Teem then gave the Rebels their first lead, responding with a touchdown reception from Costello to go up 14-10

Davis ran for 73 yards on 12 carries for the Comets, and Cade Weaver had 71 yards on 18 totes. Davis added 115 yards through the air on 9-of-23 passing with an interception.

Costello passed for just 47 yards and threw two interceptions but ran for 124 yards on 20 attempts.

JESUIT 65, NORTH MEDFORD 7: At Portland, early turnovers doomed North Medford against ninth-seeded Jesuit in the Class 6A first round state playoff contest.

The Irish (9-1), who will take on No. 8 Sprague in the second round, put up seven touchdowns in the first quarter — four were off Black Tornado turnovers.

“We had four early turnovers that turned into points and it totally took us out of our game plan,” said North Medford coach Mike Mitchell.

Running back Trey Lowe paved the way for Jesuit with four rushing touchdowns to go with a 62-yard catch-and-run TD in the first quarter. He ran the ball just six times for 87 yards.

North Medford’s Tyler Evans hauled in a 25-yard touchdown from Connor Gradwell in the fourth quarter. Evans finished with four catches for 83 yards while Isaac Manuel paced the Black Tornado on the ground with 61 yards on 15 carries.

The Black Tornado finished the season with a 3-6 record after claiming fourth place in the Southwest Conference.

McNARY 22, GRANTS PASS 20: At Salem, Grants Pass led 20-10 in the third quarter but McNary rallied in the opening round of the Class 6A state playoffs.

McNary took the lead for good with about 3½ minutes remaining in the game when quarterback Erik Barker hooked up with Kyle McCallister on a 48-yard touchdown play.

The Cavemen took the ensuing kickoff and drove the ball to around midfield but a Blain Hobbs pass was tipped and then intercepted by Jacob Jackson to end any comeback hopes.

Senior running back Vincent Washington led the Grants Pass ground game with 158 yards on 29 carries and two touchdowns. Hobbs added 92 yards on 10 rushes.

Hobbs, a junior quarterback, was 13-of-24 passing for 139 yards, with one TD and two interceptions.

McNary (7-3), of the Greater Valley Conference, advances to the Round of 16 where the Celtics will play at third-seeded West Linn next Friday. Grants Pass finishes the season at 6-4.

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