SALEM — Bottled up for two weeks, North Medford finally got a chance to stretch its legs and exploded for a 35-14 victory over West Salem in the South/Central Football Conference opener for both teams on Friday night.
North Medford senior Ty Pugliano was dynamic in setting the tone with three touchdown runs and junior brother AJ Pugliano pulled in a pair of passes from quarterback Caiden Lacey to help the Tornado (1-2, 1-0 SCFC) win going away.
“I’m just super proud of all our kids all the way around,” said North head coach Nathan Chin. “The highlights are going to be the offensive line and us to be able to run the ball effectively with Ty and (Alexander Angulo), but our defense also was amazing holding them to only one first down in the first half.”
It was also nice to see the Puglianos be able to do what they do best and that’s make plays for the Tornado.
“We finally got them moving and going, which was nice to get them to that point because we hadn’t had a chance to do that with them yet or it just hasn’t happened,” said Chin. “The guys up front did a really good job of blocking for Ty, and AJ was included in that, and then AJ did a great job of getting loose a few times.”
After having to exit last week’s loss at Bend in the second quarter, Lacey showed no ill effects in pulling down the football and running to the West Salem 2-yard line early in the first quarter. Ty Pugliano then bowled over for his first touchdown.
“Caiden was sharp; he was getting the ball out quick,” said Chin. “He moved in the pocket well and for coming off an injury last week, he scrambled a few times early in really effective fashion.”
On a drive spearheaded by steady runs from the older Pugliano, AJ Pugliano showed off his mismatch abilities with a 10-yard catch and run for a TD from Lacey.
JT Knobloch-Scott, who had finished off last week’s game at QB, drilled a 39-yard field goal to make it 16-0 in the second quarter, and then the Pugliano brothers traded off big plays again as an AJ reception set up a 15-yard TD run by Ty that was capped off with a powerful drive to the end zone.
It was 22-0 and all North Medford at halftime, and the Black Tornado didn’t let up as AJ Pugliano pulled in a jump ball from the 4.
West Salem got its first score on a third-and-10 play from its own 34 when Kaden Martirano connected with Tommy Slack despite getting hit as he delivered the pass. Slack was able to come back for the shorter throw and then weaved through the North defense for a touchdown.
Ty Pugliano answered with his third TD on a nifty 7-yard scamper inside the final three minutes but the Titans (0-3, 0-1) were able to get a 60-yard TD run from Carson Evenson to close the scoring in the waning minutes.
North Medford 7 15 7 6—35
West Salem 0 0 7 7—14
NM — T. Pugliano 2 run (Knobloch-Scott kick)
NM — A. Pugliano 10 pass from Lacey (kick failed)
NM — FG Knobloch-Scott 39
NM — T. Pugliano 15 run (kick blocked)
NM — A. Pugliano 4 pass from Lacey (Knobloch-Scott kick)
WS — Slack 66 pass from Martirano (Oertel kick)
NM — T. Pugliano 7 run (kick failed)
WS — Evenson 60 run (Oertel kick)
AJ Pugliano, North Medford football
Ty Pugliano, North Medford football
Caiden Lacey, North Medford football