North rallies to stun Grants Pass

GRANTS PASS — Eli Spence had another monster day, Brennan Stults ignited a first-half comeback and the North Medford Black Tornado overcame deficits of 14-0 and 21-14 to halt a three-game skid and beat Grants Pass, 37-29, in a back-and-forth Southwest Conference slugfest Friday at Mel Ingram Field.

The Cavemen led 21-14 after Jake Henricks plowed in from the 2 early in the third, but the Black Tornado scored the next 24 points, including an 8-yard blast by Spence to all but wrap up North’s first league win.

Grants Pass scored a touchdown and connected on the two-point conversion with about 2?1/2 minutes to go to remain in contention, but North Medford recovered the onside kick and Spence plowed up the middle for 5 yards on a fourth-and-one play with a little over a minute left to ice the game.

“We played the rush much better and they became one-dimensional,” North Medford coach Steve Turner said of his team’s second-half surge. “We just played a lot better in the second half. I mean, a whole lot better.”

Spence, who entered the game as the state’s leading rusher, ran for 240 yards and two touchdowns, both in the second half as North Medford (3-3, 1-1 SWC) racked up 470 yards of total offense.

Stults completed 8 of 10 passes for 191 yards and three touchdowns, including a 34-yarder to Jett Carpenter and 87-yarder to Anthony Taylor in the second quarter.

Chase Coyle was 20-for-33 for 219 yards passing, and Henricks rushed for 88 yards and two touchdowns for the Cavemen (4-1, 1-1), who played without leading senior tailback Jaren Emptage. The Cavemen were held to 11 yards rushing in the third quarter to suffer their first loss since a season-opening setback to Oregon City.

“We don’t really talk about the big picture,” Turner said. “It sounds like football talk but we just go one game at a time, try to take care of ourselves and get better. That’s what our approach is. We lost three tough ones ... but we know we’re all right.”

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