HILLSBORO — South Medford got the test it expected in a nonconference football game against Liberty Friday.
The result was not what the Panthers sought.
Liberty (3-0) opened a 17-0 lead in the second quarter, turned it into a 24-7 halftime lead, then held serve the rest of the way in a 38-20 triumph.
South Medford opened the season with two wins, but Liberty represented its most difficult challenge.
“This is a good football team,” said Panthers coach Bill Singler. “To see them at the end of last year and how they were playing, they have a lot of seniors back and a quarterback that’s really good.”
The Falcons got a 30-yard field goal from Nik Reitzug, then touchdowns of 1 yard on a run by Jed Steinoff and 9 yards on a pass from Bradley Norman to Cole Smith.
South Medford couldn’t generate much offense through the first quarter-plus. Two passes totaling 49 yards from Giovanni Bottero to Austin Boster, including the final 11 for a touchdown, accounted for much of the Panthers’ first-half output.
South had escaped the turnover bug in its first two games but had three against Liberty.
Late in the first half, the Panthers drove deep into Falcons territory, but Terrence Butler’s fumble at the 15 after catching a screen pass was scooped up and returned for an apparent TD by Liberty.
The play was nullified by a penalty, but the Falcons retained possession and went 52 yards for a touchdown to end the half. Norman passed 28 yards to Smith, who was well covered by Jace Campell, who appeared to make an interception.
“He (Campbell) came up with it,” said Singler. “Both kids were fighting and wrestling for it. The refs conferred and ruled it was a simultaneous catch. That hurt.”
Liberty made it 38-7 with 5:30 left in the third quarter following a 55-yard scoring run by the dual-threat Norman and a 1-yard dive by Smith.
South Medford answered with a Butler’s 12-yard scoring run, then Mason DeVries had back-to-back jaunts of 52 and 3 yards to get the Panthers in the end a final time.
Boster had another long pass play, a 54-yarder from Bottero, called back because of a penalty.
“We didn’t play well enough in the first half and they did,” said Singler. “We made some things happen in the second half there were better. We showed some resiliency and attitude and kept playing, but they certainly were the better team tonight.”
South Medford 0 7 13 0—20
Liberty 10 14 14 0—38
L — FG Reitzug 30
L — Steinhoff 1 run (Reitzug kick)
L — Smith 9 pass from Norman (Reitzug kick)
SM — Boster 11 pass from Bottero (Flores kick)
L — Smith 28 pass from Norman (Reitzug kick)
L — Norman 55 run (Reitzug kick)
L — Smith 1 run (Reitzug kick)
SM — Butler 12 run (Flores kick)
SM — DeVries 3 run (run failed)
GRANTS PASS 49, MOUNTAIN VIEW 41: At Bend, Chase Coyle completed 21 of 30 passes for 295 yards and five touchdowns to help the Cavemen win a back-and-forth nonleague game.
Grants Pass running back Jaren Emptage had 15 carries for 140 yards and two touchdowns, including a 41-yard TD run with 5:45 to go that iced the game.
Also for Grants Pass (2-1), which won 48-41 last week, Randy Clark had six catches for 119 yards and one touchdown, Blain Hobbs six receptions for 109 yards and two scores and Korbin Lopez seven catches for 75 yards and two TDs.
Jonas Larson rushed for 285 yards and four touchdowns to lead Mountain View (2-1).
EAGLE POINT 48, SPRINGFIELD 7: At Eagle Point, Cameron Morgan passed for 396 yards and four touchdowns, and three Eagle Point receivers hit the century mark for receiving yards as the Eagles (3-0) racked up 626 yards of total offense and built a 41-0 halftime lead in the nonleague blowout.
Morgan completed 10 of 13 passes and also rushed for 79 yards, including a 71-yard burst.
Noah Page had four catches for 140 yards and two touchdowns, Eric Parliament two catches for 132 yards and a touchdown and Devin Bradd two catches for 102 yards and a score.
Springfield fell to 2-1.
THURSTON 40, CRATER 35: At Springfield, Crater was unable to complete a fourth-quarter rally against pass-happy Thurston.
After the Colts (1-2) began the fourth quarter with an 84-yard touchdown pass from Cade Crist to D.J. Stedman to go up 33-21, Tony Flores capped the Comets’ next drive with a 27-yard TD scamper that sliced the lead Colts’ lead to 33-28.
The Colts kept the scoring flurry going by returning the ensuing kickoff 98 yards to go up 40-28, but less than a minute later, Comets quarterback Trever Davis connected with Ethan Scott on a 48-yard touchdown. Crater didn’t score again.
Davis was 17-for-26 for 264 yards with a pair of TD tosses and Trevor Jaasko had six catches for 129 yards and a TD.
Defensively, Logan Lowder returned one of his two interceptions for a touchdown for Crater (1-2) while Flores came up with 11 tackles.
Crist threw for 481 yards and three touchdowns.