Crater's Jacob Ziegler (4) races past Jefferson High's Quandry Johnson (89) as Corey Charley (59) throws a block on Friday. - Sean Jeter

Melee mars Comets' win

CENTRAL POINT — Crater came away with a victory Friday night at Dutch Meyer Field, but there was little satisfaction in it.

In a game marred by a fourth-quarter melee and sloppy, penalty-filled action overall, the Comets did just enough to earn a 28-14 triumph over Jefferson.

Reserve halfback Derek Cartwright passed for a touchdown and ran for another to lead No. 7-ranked Crater (3-1), but his efforts unfortunately were overshadowed by an on-field brawl with 10:42 to play.

Frustrations on both sides of the ball were building for quite a while before things took an ugly turn on a first-down play at the Crater 34-yard line.

Quarterback Tyler Turituri handed the ball off to Jacob Ziegler on a fly sweep toward the Jefferson sideline, then turned back to block the pursuit of Democrats senior linebacker Kolo Fokofuka. The block turned into a lot more seconds later when Fokofuka slammed Turituri to the turf and then began wrenching at the junior's helmet while he was hunched over.

A penalty flag went soaring in the direction of the skirmish about five seconds later, and then players from both sides began making their way over to the hashmark where they were by the Crater sideline. Turituri finally slipped his head out of Fokofuka's grasp after about 25 seconds of being worked on, then fired off about four punches to his chest in retaliation before the two were finally separated.

By this time, the Jefferson bench had rushed to the scene and coaches from both teams and the officials worked hard to separate minor skirmishes and return players from each team to their respective sidelines. On hand police officers also aided in helping restore order.

"It was just a real sad deal," said Crater head coach John Beck. "I feel really bad stuff like that got out of hand for both teams. It's a really unfortunate situation because I have a lot of respect for their coach Anthony Stoudamire and I know that's not something either one of us wanted to see happen."

Jefferson's Fokofuka, Dominic Atchison and Scott Moala were each ejected from the game for their part in the melee, as were Crater's Turituri, Devin Massey and Christian Massey.

All are subject for suspensions for their next game, although Beck said he will seek an appeal with John Graham, commissioner of the Rogue Valley officials, as soon as possible.

"I'll talk with John and show him the film and see where we go from there," added Beck.

The Comets were leading 21-14 at that point and their drive stalled at the Jefferson 27. The Democrats (0-4) appeared to have something going on their next possession when quarterback Noa Aluesi eluded pressure and sent a deep pass to A.J. Johnson, but he inexplicably tried to lateral the ball while being tackled on the 60-yard play and Ziegler pounced on the loose ball for a key turnover at the Crater 22.

Two Cartwright runs and a pivotal 20-yard run by Kelley Beck — and ensuing unsportsmanlike penalty on the Democrats after the play — put the Comets in prime position at the Jefferson 34. Cartwright then took a handoff from backup quarterback Cory Wynant, dipped up the left side and eventually cut back up the middle before stretching for a game-clinching touchdown with 3:59 to play.

"That was a battle with our starting running back, wide receiver and quarterback going out," said Cartwright, who carried 10 times for 72 yards. "That's a tough thing but to come back and battle through that and win that game, it shows a lot about our team and our heart."

"We got things done but it wasn't pretty, it wasn't our best game," he added.

Ziegler's 9-yard TD run and a 25-yard connection between Turituri and Christian Massey helped Crater take a 14-0 lead in the first quarter.

Jefferson scored with 3:52 to go in the first half on a 4-yard keeper by Aluesi and Ian Perkins' two-point conversion run made it 14-8.

The Comets' Austin Siegel then missed a 30-yard field goal, but Ryan Sonday's interception allowed Crater to remain ahead at halftime. Sonday also made a nice play on a pass in the end zone in the third quarter, knocking the ball into the arms of teammate Sammy Clark for another interception.

Tamir Polk's 40-yard interception return of a Turituri pass tied the game at 14-all, with Perkins' two-point run stopped short.

After a Jefferson miscue on a punt attempt gave Crater great field position at the Jefferson 17, the Comets threw in a little trickery after being pushed backwards when Cartwright took a pitch left, stopped and lofted a 36-yard touchdown pass to Beck a split-second before Jefferson's defensive back could knock the ball away.

"We practiced that all week and coach said come game time I should come ready to throw that pass," said Cartwright. "He called my name and I just went in and did what I was supposed to do."

Like most of the action Friday, the pass wasn't exactly a thing of beauty as it floated toward Beck's waiting arms like a punt.

"I couldn't find the laces and I saw the safety breaking on (Beck) so I was like, 'I've just got to throw it now,' so I threw it up," added Cartwright. "It wasn't pretty but it got the job done."

The description pretty much summed up the night for the Comets, although they did receive a solid effort from their defense and special teams units. Mike Bishop, in particular, was a force at noseguard.

Jefferson finished with 286 yards of total offense, aided by 109 yards on two deep passes by Aluesi, and was assessed 14 penalties for 110 yards. Crater managed 246 yards of total offense and was flagged five times for 25 yards of enforced penalties. Each team turned the ball over three times.

Reach reporter Kris Henry at 776-4488, or e-mail

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