MEDFORD — It’s no surprise that the intensity has increased as the Roseburg Indians continue their undefeated run through the Southwest Conference this season.
The No. 7 Tribe found itself tied with South Medford at halftime on Friday night at Spiegelberg Stadium, but Roseburg scored three times in the third quarter to pull ahead of the Panthers and held on for a 35-26 victory.
“We’re going to take a win down here. It’s been a while since we’ve had one down here,” Roseburg coach Dave Heuberger said. The win was Roseburg’s first against South Medford since 2010.
For a second consecutive week, Roseburg (7-0, 3-0 SWC) took an early lead, but had to fight off a fierce comeback attempt.
Quarterback Colton Marsters capped off Roseburg’s opening drive with a 4-yard run to the end zone to give the Indians a 7-0 lead.
Running back Knox Hubbard made it 14-0 in Roseburg’s favor with his first rushing touchdown later in the first quarter, but South Medford’s Carson Joe would find paydirt before the opening period came to an end to get the Panthers within a score.
South Medford (1-6, 1-2 SWC) picked off Marsters to start the second quarter and set up the offense with a short field. Senior Brycen Guches scored the first of two rushing touchdowns to tie the game at 14-14. Neither side managed to take the lead heading to the break.
“(We) haven’t seen a lot of adversity this year, so 14-14 on the road, that’s adversity, and to see (the team) come out the way they did in the second half, I was pleased,” Heuberger said.
Roseburg started the second half with a pick of South’s back-up quarterback Colton Samis. The Panthers’ usual starter, Deacon Edgar, was dressed for the game, but only saw the field as the holder on PATs due to a back injury.
The Indians turned the takeaway into points on a touchdown pass from Marsters to Logan Klopfenstein. Roseburg added two rushing touchdowns by Marsters to lead 35-14 heading to the fourth quarter.
The Panthers fought back to score twice in the fourth quarter, but the comeback effort fell short as time ran out.
“(Roseburg) had a really good third quarter and that was the difference in the game,” South Medford coach Bill Singler said. “We had to play almost a perfect game to beat them and we didn’t.”
Marsters led Roseburg with 121 yards rushing and two touchdowns. He’s now seven yards away from reaching 1,000 for the season.
Sophomore Cayden Eckel ran for 118 yards in the first half before leaving the game with an ankle injury. He was replaced by Hubbard, who had his biggest game of the season with 86 yards on 18 carries and two touchdowns.
“He ran hard. He was a man on a mission. He threw us on his back there for a little bit,” Heuberger said about Hubbard’s performance. “He allowed us to control the ball for a little bit and get first downs.”
Samis ran for 71 yards on 12 carries and was 5-for-10 through the air for 89 yards, a touchdown and an interception.
Roseburg outgained South Medford, 403-263.
The Indians are now 7-0 for the first time since 2001. The Tribe will prepare to face Sheldon (6-1, 2-0 SWC) at 7 p.m. next Friday for the Southwest Conference championship at Finlay Field.
The Irish stayed undefeated in conference play with a 37-35 win over North Medford Friday.
“What a great evening that’s going to be of high school football,” Heuberger said. “Sheldon. Roseburg. For all the marbles. It’s our homecoming. It should be a fun night of high school football.”
Roseburg 14 0 21 0 — 35
S. Medford 7 7 0 12 — 26
R — Marsters 4 run (Bartlett kick)
R — Hubbard 4 run (Bartlett kick)
S — Joe 7 run (Parker kick)
S — Guches 5 run (Parker kick)
R — Klopfenstein 14 pass from Marsters (Bartlett kick)
R — Hubbard 2 run (Bartlett kick)
R — Marsters 1 run (Bartlett kick)
S — Guches 4 run (Kick blocked)
S — Joe 24 pass from Samis (pass failed)