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Bend nips North Medford in OT

North Medford was on the verge of a 3-0 start and a victory in its home opener.

Then Bend intervened.

The Lava Bears scored an overtime touchdown and added a two-point conversion for the winning margin in a 29-28 nonconference game Friday at Spiegelberg Stadium.

The Black Tornado, which last won its first three games in 2016, survived a short missed field goal by Bend at the end of regulation, leaving the score 21-21, then had possession first in the Kansas Plan overtime and made the most of it.

Senior running back Eli Spence, who continued to put up monster numbers, scored on a 15-yard run to make it 27-21, and Tucker Houck’s extra-point kick made it 28-21.

Bend took over from the North Medford 25 and was immediately stopped for a 2-yard loss by the Black Tornado’s Jullian Stone.

Spence broke up a pass play on second down, and Lava Bears quarterback Cooper Simmonds threw incomplete into the end zone on third down.

However, the senior signal caller converted a fourth-and-12 play with a 15-yard strike to big Tysen Scott, a 6-foot-4, 240-pound senior receiver.

Bend went backwards on a holding penalty before Simmonds found Scott with a deep ball in the left corner of the end zone. Defensive back Anthony Taylor appeared to have tight coverage on the play but was at a size disadvantage.

“That was heartbreaking to see them complete that pass,” said North Medford coach Steve Turner. “We had good pressure and had (Scott) covered, they just had a mismatch. He also scored another one. He’s just so big. That was good on their part.”

Rather than kick the point-after and possibly keep the overtime going, Bend went for two.

Simmonds made a play-action fake, rolled to his right and found Kyle Reed in the right flat of the end zone for an easy pitch and catch to end the game.

The Lava Bears were in prime position to win in regulation, but Andy Emerson’s straight-on, 27-yard field goal was short. Black Tornado defensive Josh Baptiste applied pressure.

Turner blamed his own team’s mistakes on the outcome.

On its first drive of the game, North Medford fumbled the ball away at the Bend 1-yard line — after Spence, who again eclipsed 200 yards rushing, had to come out for one play because his helmet was knocked off.

Later, Turner called a screen pass he said he shouldn’t have. It was returned 79 yards for a touchdown by Lucas Musgrave.

“Those two plays were the difference in the game,” said Turner.

As soon as he called for the screen pass, he said, “I thought to myself, I wasn’t really sold on it. Their kid makes a nice play and goes 80 yards.”

Spence gained 216 yards on 29 carries and also had scoring runs of 4 and 43 yards.

Black Tornado quarterback Brennen Stults completed 7 of 15 passes for 117 yards, with the one interception. He had a 23-yard scoring strike to Jett Carpenter.

“I think we grew up a little tonight,” said Turner. “When you win as easily as we did the first two games, you’re going to get pushed. Tonight we were pushed and we answered, we did. I think we’re a better team now than we were going into the game. I think we were still the better team tonight, but we have to find ways to win, and tonight we didn’t find that way.”

Reach sports editor Tim Trower at 541-776-4479 or ttrower@rosebudmedia.com

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