South Medford almost upsets No. 1 Irish

South Medford junior quarterback Jack Singler has endured lots of adversity in his first varsity season. Against undefeated Sheldon in Eugene on Friday, Singler put together his best performance of the year.

Singler's four touchdown passes helped the Panthers almost pull off a monumental upset against the state's top-ranked team, but the Irish rallied for two fourth quarter touchdowns to post a 37-30 victory.

"We think our team is as suited to beat Sheldon as any team in the state," South Medford coach Bill Singler said. "We have the physicality to match up against a team like Sheldon."

South Medford (5-4, 4-3 SWC) handed Sheldon it's last conference loss when the Panthers won the league championship in 2008. Bill Singler pointed out that the Panthers have also beaten the Irish at the JV and freshmen levels in recent years.

"We're not in awe of them," said the Panthers' coach. "Our kids have beaten them. That helps with our confidence."

Three of Jack Singler's scoring passes came in the second quarter as the Panthers took a surprising 23-7 halftime lead.

"We had to play good early and not let the game get away," said the elder Singler. "We played our best football all year in the first half. We have some physical guys up front. We forced their quarterback to make some poor throws and we got some stops."

After the Irish took the opening kickoff and drove 68 yards for a touchdown, South Medford responded with 23 unanswered points.

Tate Ficek's interception set up a 30-yard field goal by Parker Thomas that cut Sheldon's lead to 7-3.

In the second quarter, Jack Singler connected with Austin Griffin for an 11-yard TD toss, then Matt Retzlaff made two spectacular efforts to score on passing plays of 66 and 45 yards.

"Matt Retzlaff made a couple of tremendous plays catching and running the ball," said the Panthers' coach. "He's becoming one of the better players in the league on both sides of the ball."

Defending Class 6A state champion Sheldon (9-0, 7-0 SWC) came back strong after halftime and scored two third-quarter touchdowns and tacked on 2-point conversions on both to tie the game 23-all.

The Panthers retook the lead early in the fourth on an 18-yard TD strike from Jack Singler to Denzel Mobley on a fourth-and-five. The South quarterback recognized a blitz from the Sheldon defense and found Mobley on a wheel route up the sideline for the score with 10:22 left in the final quarter.

With its 23-game winning streak in jeopardy, Sheldon answered with scoring drives of 73 and 68 yards to rally for the victory.

Junior quarterback Dillon Miller's 4-yard touchdown pass to Mitch Carman and Dariano Mancuso's extra-point kick gave the Irish a 37-30 lead with 1:21 remaining in the game.

The Irish defense limited South Medford 230-pound running back Kevin Gilmore to 48 yards on 16 carries. Mobley carried eight times for 21 yards and Mark Mexia had three rushes for 17 yards.

"We had to throw because they were putting seven and eight guys in the box," said Bill Singler. "We protected well, we threw the ball well and we caught the ball."

Jack Singler was 13-of-19 passing for 235 yards and had one interception. Retzlaff had five catches for 132 yards and Josh Havird and Griffin each had three receptions.

"We've gone toe-to-toe with two of the top teams in the state," said coach Singler, who pointed out the Panthers lost to No. 6 Roseburg in overtime. "We prepared our team to win and our kids responded. It shows we have a quality team."

South Medford 3 20 0 7 — 30

Sheldon 7 0 16 14 — 37

She — Juilfs 5 run (Mancuso kick)

SM — FG Thomas 30

SM — Griffin 11 pass from Singler (kick failed)

SM — Retzlaff 66 pass from Singler (Thomas kick)

SM — Retzlaff 45 pass from Singler (Thomas kick)

She — Prevost 49 fumble return (Herr pass from Miller)

She — Brathovde 1 run (Prevost pass from Miller)

SM — Mobley 18 pass from Singler (Thomas kick)

She — Robinson 13 run (Mancuso kick)

She — Carman 4 pass from Miller (Mancuso kick)

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