South Albany High quarterback Eli Nafziger could only sit, watch and cheer on his teammates Friday night.
Nafziger’s night ended prematurely with an injury, one that derailed a promising start for the RedHawks in their Mid-Willamette Conference football battle with Silverton.
Without Nafziger, the RedHawks were unable to keep pace as the Silver Foxes scored 28 straight points between the second and fourth quarters and went on to a 56-23 victory.
Silverton improves to 2-0 while South falls to 1-1 and heads to McKay next Friday.
“Hats off to Silverton, good football team,” South coach David Younger said. “I just wish we could have finished the game healthy at 100 percent and competed against them with a healthy football team.”
Trailing 21-16 midway through the second quarter and deep in Silverton territory, Nafziger was tackled for no gain and stayed down for a couple minutes before being helped off.
He did not return and his status for next week was not known on Friday night.
Up 28-16 at the half, Silverton used a 21-0 edge in the third to take control.
“I think we got kind of shell-shocked when he went down and that's to be expected,” Younger said. “We're a young football team and we don’t have a lot of depth. We're trying to create depth in practice right now.
“Silverton's a very good football team and they're most likely going to make a deep run in the playoffs. They're the team we expected. But I was proud of our kids.”
Gage Jones ended the Silverton run with a 2-yard touchdown run with 4:09 left.
Tyler Sieber finished with 125 yards rushing on 18 carries and caught a 30-yard touchdown from Nafziger in the second quarter. Tiras Simons added three catches for 37 yards and Jones rushed for 38 yards on 13 attempts.
For Silverton, Levi Nielsen finished 11-for-20 passing with 234 yards and one touchdown. Grant Buchheit was his favorite target, grabbing six passes for 165 yards and the touchdown. Hayden Roth rushed for 136 yards on 14 attempts.
Younger praised senior Joe Dunn for stepping in at quarterback when Nafziger went down.
“Being a senior and making some good plays for us, I was really proud of Joe,” he said. “He’ll do a good job for us once he’s taken all the quarterback reps.”
South Albany took advantage of a Silverton fumble to the first drive and Nafziger kept it and went down the left sideline 33 yards for a quick 6-0 lead.
It was the perfect start after a good week of practice coming off last week’s thrilling 27-26 win over Dallas on an Ozzie Ramirez field goal in the closing seconds.
“We had a great week of practice and our kids, I felt like coming into Game 2, our week of practice between Game 1 and Game 2 was much better,” Younger said. “I was really excited to come out and our kids had good energy all week and they were ready to battle a good football team.”
After trading possessions, Nielsen was able to elude the rush and scrambled six yards for the tying touchdown. Benjamin Willis’ kick gave the Foxes a 7-6 lead with 4:10 left in the quarter.
After South punted, Nielsen again avoided the rush, this time scampering 20 yards for a 14-6 edge after the first.
The RedHawks put together an eight-play drive that ended when Nafziger delivered a strike to Seiber for a 30-yard touchdown that got South within 14-13.
After recovering the ensuing kickoff, the RedHawks regained the lead on Ramirez’s 40-yard field goal with 8:07 left in the half.
But Silverton controlled the rest of the half as Roth gave the Foxes the lead back with a 48-yard touchdown run.
Nafziger was hurt on the next drive and Ramirez was short from 38 yards to give the ball back to the Foxes.
Roth’s 3-yard run capped an 80-yard drive made it 28-16 at the half.