Grizzlies ease past Pelicans

Ashland scored four touchdowns in the second quarter and ran out to a 33-0 lead on its way to a 46-20 season-opening win over Klamath Union, Friday night at Walter A. Phillips Field.

Danial White threw three touchdown passes and ran for another and Ashland's defense limited the Pelicans to 204 yards of total offense as the Grizzlies enjoyed a confidence-building romp heading into next week's showdown with Midwestern League favorite Marist.

The Spartans, who were picked No. 1 in the league's preseason coaches' poll, edged Corvallis 16-14.

"I don't know if we're ready for (Marist), but our goal was to win the first game and one of our other goals was to win back-to-back games, and it just happens to be Marist now," Ashland head coach Charlie Hall said. "We knew this (Marist game) was going to come and we're looking forward to having them at home and I hope the community turns out and gives us some support."

Ashland sputtered out of the gate, going three-and-out on its first two possessions before breaking through thanks to a spectacular play that opened the second quarter. Facing a fourth-and-7 on Klamath Union's 29, Ashland cashed in on a gamble when White's underthrown ball was hauled in by a diving Taylor Humphrey for a first down at the KU 5.

One play later Ashland junior running back Jon Volz plowed up the middle to give Ashland the first score of the game.

Volz wound up with a team-high 81 rushing yards on 11 carries to lead an Ashland ground attack that punished the Pelicans. The Grizzlies gained 221 rushing yards on 40 carries, complimenting a passing game that amassed 245 yards.

"I think we were more conditioned than them," Ashland two-way lineman Conor Morrison said. "They got tired and we didn't, and that's how we did that."

White, a sophomore, completed 14 of 22 passes for 179 yards before coming out in the third quarter after his 9-yard touchdown run gave Ashland a 33-0 lead.

The floodgates opened after Ashland finally broke through, as the Grizzlies scored on their first four possessions of the second quarter, including a highlight reel catch-and-run-and run some more by Humphrey. The 5-foot-9 speedburner caught a short pass near the Pelicans' sideline, faked out a defender, then high-tailed it all the way across the field before scoring along the Grizzlies' sideline.

That jolt gave Ashland a 19-0 lead, which they extended to 26-0 when White found Sam Geisslinger over the middle for an easy-looking 14-yard touchdown pass with 1:36 to go in the first half.

Geisslinger had five receptions for 45 yards.

With the game well in hand Ashland seemed to lose concentration in the second half, giving up an 85-yard touchdown pass from Alex Stork to Alex Thomas, and a 40-yard touchdown pass from Kody Kuhlman to Jack Bell. But the game was never in doubt, and the Grizzlies even stamped on a magical exclamation point midway through the fourth quarter when center Mason Montgomery, who's also a stalwart middle linebacker, picked up a fumble by teammate R.J. Atteberry and rumbled into the end zone.

"It just seemed like we figured out our stuff," Ashland two-way lineman Logan Hartrick said. "At first we were struggling a little bit with the defense, but then we figured out what we had to do and we executed it."

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