Isaiah Sego ran for 148 yards and three touchdowns, including a 10-yarder with 5:17 left that put North Eugene in front for good, as the Highlanders beat Ashland 24-21 in Midwestern League football action Friday at Walter A. Phillips Field.
The Grizzlies fought back from a 17-7 deficit to take a 21-17 lead on DaMario Watson's 3-yard touchdown run and Chad Andrews' point-after kick in the fourth quarter, but North Eugene responded with an 80-yard drive to end their season on a high note.
The game was the season finale for both teams, as both fell short of the playoffs. Ashland fell to 2-7, 1-6 in the MWL; North Eugene finished 3-6 and 3-4.
The Grizzlies, who finished their season on a four-game losing streak, cut the lead to three, 17-14, on Rieger Sayre's 19-yard touchdown pass to Gabe Ekwall with 3:59 to go in the third, and jumped in front on Watson's second touchdown of the game. Chad Andrews made both point-after kicks, and was 3-for-3 on the day.
North Eugene had one final push in it, however, and kept the game-winning drive going with Sego's 3-yard run on fourth-and-1 from the Ashland 29. A 17-yard swing pass from Drew Williams to Anu Richardson set up the Highlanders at the Ashland 10, and Sego powered his way up the middle on the next play.
After an Ashland run was stuffed on third-and-5 on the ensuing drive the Grizzlies opted to go for it, and Sayre's fourth-down pass to Ekwall fell incomplete.
Watson scored on a 1-yard run with 4:53 to go in the second quarter and Andrews' PAT tied the game at 7-7, but the Highlanders' Jacob Hertz drilled a 21-yard field goal attempt with 11 seconds left in the half to give his team a 10-7 lead at the break.
In the third, North Eugene upped its lead to 10 after marching 75 yards in 10 plays, completing the drive on Sego's 6-yard run. Hertz made the PAT.
Anthony Swanson caught an 87-yard pass and rushed for 47 more yards to lead the Grizzly offense, which was outgained by North Eugene 318-286. Watson rushed for 60 yards and Sayre completed 9 of 18 passes for 183 yards.
Also for Ashland, Will Beaudoin had an interception, Detlef Laughery eight tackles and two sacks and Finn Hayes 10 tackles.
Joe Zavala is a reporter for the Ashland Daily Tidings. Reach him at 541-821-0829 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @Joe_Zavala99.