South Eugene’s (2-6, 0-6) offense looked good early, but once again it was mental errors and unforced mistakes that caused the Axemen to fall. The explosive Crater Comets (2-6, 2-4) put up 63 points last week and added 42 against South Eugene in a 42-32 runaway win.
The Axemen stormed out to a 19-7 lead on the arm of quarterback Ray Roundtree, who put together three touchdowns in the first half alone — with two early strikes to Conner Still seeming to set a tone.
“Five touchdowns, he played great, he played tough,” South head coach Chris Miller said. “At 15 years old, I really respect his toughness. He’s got a great arm. His future’s bright.”
On senior night, senior tight end Still looked exceptional and came right out of the gates well, but followed it up with some really gritty runs after catches.
“Really proud of the seniors, they played hard.”
But Roundtree was just 16 of 25 in that first half, throwing one pick. The Comets came back in the second quarter when the Axemen offense slowed. Outside of standout senior defensive lineman Quinton Richardson, South Eugene struggled to keep Crater senior quarterback Ty Fox and co. from marching.
“Richardson’s got such an incredible motor,” Miller said.
Fox was even better in the second half, tossing for two more touchdowns and leading his squad to 20 second-half points.
“The quarterback (Fox) is a good player, he’s been in that system for three years, we know that coaching staff. Obviously their offense has worked together for a while. So I knew we had to take advantage of every possession we had,” Miller said. “Really, there were self-inflicted wounds. Like I said, we at least had to score 45.”
The wounds tell the story of the game, but in a way, they say a lot about the season at large. Miller repeated that a lot of the mistakes are things that come back to practice and player health. “We don’t have enough depth,” he said, to recover from a lot of setbacks, and stay within fighting distance.
And so after a couple of early wins over nonconference opponents, the team’s sometimes sloppy play has glared over some outstanding individual efforts. When they’re on point, Roundtree and halfback Quinn Cota look unstoppable, but when key possessions fall from players shooting themselves in the foot, generally the close game will hinge out of their favor.
There’s a lot to learn from a close one like this, and Miller wanted them to keep their eyes on that with a road game against Thurston, possibly the season finale, next Friday.
“We didn’t lose the war, we lost the battle this time,” the coach said at his post-game meeting with players. He repeated his essential message in post-game interviews:
“Ultimately, it’s a game. Tomorrow, like I said to my team — the fog breaks, the sun comes out, and the Ducks are playing, so you know, we move to the next episode.”