Romick, Bowen prove too much for Tornado

It was another frustrating night of football as hard-luck North Medford was victimized by big plays at Grants Pass Friday.

The sixth-ranked Cavemen trailed twice early but scored 27 unanswered points to post a 34-24 Southwest Conference victory at Mel Ingram Field.

The Black Tornado (4-4, 1-3 SWC) contained the Grants Pass offense effectively at times, but quarterback Jordy Romick and senior running back Criss Bowen had a role in all five Cavemen touchdowns.

Romick particularly broke down North. The elusive junior picked up 173 yards on the ground and one touchdown, and two of his three pass completions went for touchdowns. Bowen gained 121 yards on 18 carries, but 99 yards came on two runs.

"We were playing well defensively," North Medford coach Jeff Olson said, "but they have two kids (Romick and Bowen) that are running the ball very well right now. They hit some big plays and that hurt us."

Quarterback Matt Maurer was the offensive force for the Black Tornado. The junior was 13-of-19 passing for 152 yards and three TDs. Maurer rallied North with two fourth-quarter touchdowns that cut the Black Tornado deficit to 10 points with about four minutes to go.

"Matt has a tremendous will to win," said Olson. "He took the kids on his back and the team followed him in the fourth quarter."

In the final period, Maurer heaved touchdown passes of 4 yards to Brock Heaton and 18 yards to David Formolo.

"They were getting pressure on him, but Matt delivered the ball," said Olson. "The kids made some nice catches. We gave ourselves a chance to win at the end and Matt was the leader of that."

North took a 7-0 lead on its second possession of the first quarter when Maurer hooked up with Jordan Ellis for a 41-yard scoring play.

After Bowen broke an 82-yard touchdown run, Isaac Silafau returned the ensuing kickoff 97 yards for a TD as North retook the lead, 12-7 in the opening period.

With just 20 seconds left in the half, Romick connected with Ryan Miller for a 5-yard touchdown pass to extend the Grants Pass lead to 20-12. North stopped the Cavemen on a fourth-down play, but the drive was extended on a pass interference call in the end zone that gave Grants Pass a first down at the 3.

In the third, Romick surprised the North defense with a 50-yard TD pass to Brock Dean.

"The nature of that style of offense is you run, run, run then you get kids looking in the backfield and that happens on the play-action," said Olson.

Romick put North in a deep hole with a 48-yard TD burst early in the fourth that provided Grant Pass (7-1, 3-1 SWC) with a 22-point cushion.

Despite the loss, North Medford can still reach the state playoffs with a victory at Roseburg next Friday.

"Our destiny is if we win we keep going," said Olson. "Fourth place is up for grabs next week. We got a chance and that's all we can ask for."

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