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South Umpqua’s defense stands tall against Dayton

September 8, 2018
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South Umpqua receiver Chris Martinez (1) darts to the end zone with a screen pass in the first quarter of Friday’s game against Dayton while lineman Ethan Wilson points the way.

TRI CITY — It doesn’t really matter who did it, but when the Twitter handle @Oregon3Apredict suggested that Dayton was to defeat South Umpqua on Friday night — by 34 points in a shutout, no less — they did S.U. coach Steve Stebbins a favor.

Once Stebbins learned of the slight, he told the Lancers about it and reminded them that they can be a pretty good football team.

That message was delivered to the visiting Pirates — long a powerhouse of the 3A ranks — with a bit of emphasis at Kent Wigle Stadium.

S.U. senior receiver Chris Martinez had four catches for 161 yards and two scores, and the Lancers’ defense stifled the Pirates most of the game as they picked up a 19-10 nonconference victory.

“They predicted us to lose this game 30-something to nothing, and I wasn’t bashful about sharing that with our kids,” Stebbins said. “We’ve been pretty good the last few years, can we get a little more respect than that? And I think we played a pretty good football team last week that people don’t know much about because it’s from Canada. These guys came out a little bit fired up and that was fun to see.”

The Lancers played shutdown defense in the first half. Four times Dayton went for it on fourth down in S.U. territory. Four times S.U. took over on downs.

“We came out with a lot of intensity, from the locker room, actually,” S.U. senior lineman Ethan Wilson said. “And a lot of the seniors kept it up. Everybody is bigger than us. S.U. has always been a small (team), we’re small, but we’re not weak, so don’t overlook us.”

Offensively, the Lancers (1-1) weren’t consistent. They broke two big plays in the first half and one in the second half to account for all of their scoring, but that was enough with their defense.

“Our defense played great, they played absolutely great,” Stebbins said. “We made three big plays on offense — one with Creedance (Ferguson) and the other two with Chris — and otherwise we didn’t do much. Sometimes that’s all it takes to win games.”

With Dayton pinching off the inside running game fueled by Ferguson, the Lancers turned to the pass with junior quarterback Josh Deister. The first-year starter matured during the contest, completing 9 of 13 passes for 203 yards and two scores. Four of the completions went to Martinez.

“Diester is definitely getting more confident back there,” Martinez said.

“He’s getting better every week,” Stebbins said of his QB. “We pass protected pretty well, we took a step forward in that regard, too.”

It was Deister’s screen pass to Martinez in the first quarter that put the Lancers ahead, and they never trailed. Martinez hauled in the pass and outran both his blockers and the Dayton defense on a 76-yard play with 7:18 left in the first quarter.

“It’s a quick screen route,” Martinez said. “I haven’t gotten the ball a lot before this year, we’ve had some really good receivers in the past, so now is my time to step up and make plays.

“They tried putting different guys out there and I kept moving and changing my routes a bit.”

S.U.’s offensive inconsistency resulted in Dayton getting two points on a safety late in the quarter. A bad snap forced Deister to retreat to his own end zone, and Dayton pulled him down there for the score. It was all the scoring the Pirates (0-2) managed in the half.

Ferguson broke an off-tackle run into a 55-yard scoring play in the second quarter, and the Lancers led 13-2 at the half.

Dayton’s one scoring drive of the game came on the first possession of the second half. The Pirates’ final two drives ended in fourth-down failures in their own territory.

S.U. answered that score with another screen pass to Martinez, pushing the margin back to nine and leaving Dayton in need of two scores the rest of the way.

That was more than enough for the defense to protect.

“We talk about how we want to get better each week, that’s been a theme ever since I got the job,” Stebbins said.

The next step for the Lancers is to take their improvement act on the road. They play at Corbett next Friday, no matter what @Oregon3APredict says.

Dayton 2 0 8 0 — 10

S.Umpqua 6 7 6 0 — 19

First Quarter

S.U. — Chris Martinez 76 pass from Josh Deister (kick failed), 7:18

Day — Safety, Deister tackled in end zone, 1:45

Second Quarter

S.U. — Creedance Ferguson 55 run (Kyla Pires kick), 6:01

Third Quarter

Day — Braeden Nowlin 14 run (Garrett Doran run), 8:56

S.U. — Martinez 61 pass from Deister (kick blocked), 3:48

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