REEDSPORT — Having scored 54 points over the course of the previous four games, it was an offensive explosion on Friday night for the Reedsport football team. Led by the especially efficient play of the offense, the Brave walloped Gold Beach at home on the way to a 56-14 victory.
“I feel like coming off some rough losses to Toledo and Coquille this was pretty big for us. We should be able to win the next two games and that should hopefully put us in the playoffs,” said Reedsport quarterback Kaileb Pickett.
Reedsport's Miguel Velazquez crosses the goal line for a third-quarter touchdown against Gold Beach at Reedsport High School.
Despite a 2-4 record entering the game, Reedsport was ranked 13th thanks to the team’s strength of schedule. Three of Reedsport’s four losses have come to teams that entered the day ranked in the top six including then top-ranked Toledo and now top-ranked Coquille.
With Pickett at the helm, the offense struck early and often, scoring on the first six possessions of the game. Through the air Pickett was seven-for-eight with four touchdowns and 229 yards passing. Rounding out the balanced attack, the Brave rushed for 226 yards and three more scores in addition to successfully running in all seven two-point conversion attempts.
“They’re just kind of starting to mesh, I guess, and believe in themselves. And that’s the key is with this group, when we believe we can, we can be really good,” said head coach Boe Pickett.
After four losses in the last five games, against winless Gold Beach the Brave were ready to strike. After a defensive stop on the opening possession of the game, Kaileb Pickett found a wide open Tyler Thornton cutting across the middle of the field for a 54-yard score.
The connection from Pickett to Thornton was a theme of the game as Thornton finished with five catches for three touchdowns and 196 yards. Pickett found Thornton, again, wide open at the end of the half for a 46-yard score and again in the third quarter on a one-play 73-yard strike.
“We just threw fades and screens and all that to him and it worked every time,” said Kaileb Pickett. “I feel like (Thornton) is one of our best wide receivers out there, like slot and all that. Just his hands and ability to get open and run routes correctly is key to that.”
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Averaging over 7 yards per rush attempt, Reedsport was also successful in the ground game. Miguel Velazquez led the running back by committee approach with 10 carries for 79 yards and a touchdown. Pickett ended with 35 yards, Alex Carson 31, Thornton 22 and a rushing touchdown but the surprise of the night came from Jacob Chaney.
Chaney, who was seen on the offensive and defensive lines throughout the first three quarters, was the feature back in the final Reedsport possession. Taking the snaps — and huffing and puffing between each play — Chaney put together five carries for 62 yards and a touchdown.
“Chaney jokes around that he wants to run the ball and this and that and so we said that we were going to call that our linemen appreciation formation,” said Boe Pickett. “I thought it was pretty special for him to run the ball.”
Defensively, Reedsport held Gold Beach in check. Using their run-up-the-middle-as-much-as-possible approach, the Panthers found success in the second quarter with a pair of touchdowns. Landen Timeus had 118 yards and two touchdowns on 28 carries for Gold Beach.
“We told them that was what was going to happen. They run the veer and… it’s an offense that is just going to lull you to sleep and then there’s going to be a big play and we had to limit the big plays,” said Boe Pickett. Gold Beach had one play of over 20 yards on the night and finished with 37 passing yards.
This week Reedsport heads to Bandon to face a Tigers team that just knocked off No. 1 ranked Toledo. After losing the first three games of the season, Bandon has now won three of its last four contests and is now ranked at No. 12 — four spots ahead of the Brave. In the final week of the season, the Brave will host Rogue River in a nonleague contest. The Chieftains are currently on a two-game winning streak.
Hoping to use the Gold Beach game as a springboard into the final weeks of the season, the Brave have playoff aspirations.
“We have the ability to win out and possibly have a playoff seed,” said Boe Pickett. “We’re down to 18 kids after starting the year with 34 and they are the ones that want to be here and they want to play. People are stepping up and they’re doing a great job.”