EUGENE, Ore. - After missing games due to injuries, several key South Eugene Axemen were able to play in their Homecoming game against the Grants Pass Cavemen.
Having Ian Oakerson, Connor Still, Liam Duncan, John Saylor and Alex Shapiro back made a difference.
Unfortunately for the Axemen, it didn't make enough difference: Grants Pass spoiled the Axemen homecoming celebration Friday night, 31-14.
The Cavemen scored first, with a short pass to about the one yard line, followed by a drive up the middle for 6. The PAT put the Cavemen up 7-0 with 9:54 left in the first quarter.
The Cavemen scored again with 3:54 left in the half, with another short run straight up the middle, extending their lead to 14-0.
The Axemen responded with a strong drive, but the Cavemen put an end to it with an interception with just over three minutes left in the first half. Grants Pass then drove the ball down the field for another score, making it 21-0.
After kicking off to the Axemen, the Cavemen defense stopped South Eugene and the Axemen were forced to give the ball back to Grants Pass. But with 1:40 left in the half the Axmen intercepted the ball. But the Axemen were unable to capitalize on the turnover and the Cavemen got the ball back.
With only two seconds left on the clock before halftime, and with too much yardage ahead of them to the goal, the Cavemen decided to kick a field goal. The Axemen blocked it, making the score at half 21-0.
The second half started off South Eugene.
With 7:54 left in the third quarter the Axemen were finally able to put some points on the board with a short pass, making the score Grants Pass 21, South Eugene 7.
Grants Pass came back with another drive that ended in the ball carrier diving over the middle of the line for the score, making it 28-7.
The Cavemen added three more points with a field goal with 11:21 left in the fourth quarter.
The Axemen put the final points of the game on the scoreboard with 5:52 left in the game, making it Grants Pass 31, South Eugene 14. When the clock ran out that score stood.
After the game, speaking to his team, Head Coach Chris Miller had stern words. Clearly unhappy with holding penalties that bring back long runs, dropped passes, fumbles and missed assignments, Miller exhorted his team to focus more, to be more committed to the game. If they did, he told them, they would win. "When we decide to play, we can play football and play against anybody," Miller said.
The Grants Pass Cavemen ran up 414 yards to the South Eugene Axemen 253 yards.
South Eugene travels to North Medford next Friday. Kickoff is 7 p.m.