In a matchup that barely qualified as a tune-up for its final two Midwestern League games, third-ranked Ashland did exactly what it was supposed to do against an overmatched Sutherlin team.
Danial White tossed three touchdown passes in the first eight minutes, including a postcard-perfect 39-yard bomb to Matt Hedges, and Ashland led 36-0 heading into the second quarter on its way to a 50-22 nonleague rout of Sutherlin on Friday at Walter A. Phillips Field.
White completed 8 of 12 passes for 145 yards to lead the Grizzlies (7-0), who gained 358 yards of offense, including 172 on the ground. Ryne Robitz returned from a hip injury to rush for 91 yards and a touchdown to go with a TD reception, and Shashi Penn had 65 yards receiving and two touchdowns of his own — one rushing and one receiving.
For 4A Sutherlin (1-6), Wryland McKnight rushed for 117 yards, including a 21-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.
After Ashland took a 50-0 lead at the break the entire second half was played with a running clock. The Bulldogs scored three touchdowns in the fourth quarter against Ashland's backups. That included a 25-yard interception return by Austin Kennedy with 1:12 to go in the game.
"The second half like this stuff always puts a bad taste in your mouth, but we got a lot of young guys that need to play," Ashland head coach Charlie Hall said. "But when you look at the big picture, what's important is that our starting guys got a chance to play and "¦they played well, they executed well, we hit on all cylinders. We could have put a lot more but we called off the dogs way before halftime, I thought."
Ashland needed only 27 seconds to get on the board when White hit Hedges on the fingertips on the second play from scrimmage.
Less than two minutes later the Grizzlies had the ball back following a Sutherlin fumble and made it 13-0 on Penn's three-yard run.
Penn nearly made it 20-0, but his 50-plus yard punt return was wiped off the board when the Grizzlies were penalized for a block in the back. No matter. Two plays later White zipped a pass to Max Montgomery five yards upfield and the junior raced 42 yards for the touchdown.
The rest of the half went similarly and included an untimed down at the end of the first quarter that the Grizzlies turned into touchdown number five when backup quarterback Kyle Weinberg threw a 41-yard touchdown pass to Penn.
The win sends the Grizzlies streaking into next week's homecoming clash with Willamette. After that Ashland has a road game against Eagle Point that could provide the Grizzlies a chance to clinch their first Midwestern League title.
"It's again, how well can we handle our success and as a team do we think that we're pretty good and therefore we don't have to work hard," Hall said. "I don't think that's the case. I think it's a pretty mature group of kids and I think they're savvy about the bigger picture. They know it's a once-a-week situation right now."