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Wildcats scratch out South.

Byline: Steve Mims The Register-Guard

Westview not only lost its regular-season finale to No. 1 Jesuit, the Wildcats lost two-way star Jason Ogata to a shoulder injury in the process.

His replacements proved more than capable as Alex Fong rushed for 114 yards and two touchdowns and Gabe Palone returned an interception 99 yards for a touchdown to lead unranked Westview to a 38-20 win over

No. 8 South Eugene on Friday night in the first round of the OSAA Class 4A football playoffs at South Eugene High School.

The Wildcats (8-2), who finished third in league after their 38-17 loss last week at Jesuit, now face No. 2 Sprague in the second round.

"We came out of a tough Metro League and we had a tough loss last week against Jesuit and we knew we needed some players to step up," Westview coach Jon Evans said. "Palone is a kid in his first year of football, and he made the play of the year."

Trailing 17-7, South Eugene had first-and-goal at the Westview 3-yard line when Palone intercepted quarterback Brett McLennan at the 1-yard line and returned the ball for a touchdown to give the Wildcats a 24-7 lead with 7:58 left in the third quarter.

Fong added two touchdown runs as the Wildcats took a 38-7 lead in the fourth quarter.

"I'm extremely disappointed for the guys," South Eugene coach Chris Miller said. "I am disappointed in myself. I made some calls that helped beat us, like the interception that could have made the game 17-14 but instead went the other way for six points."

Westview lost both starting cornerbacks, Ogata and Sung Ko, to injury against Jesuit, but Palone moved into the starting lineup and made the biggest play of the game.

Ogata led the Wildcats with 485 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns this season, but Fong carried the load against South Eugene and pounded the Axemen up the middle for 114 yards on 16 carries.

McLennan threw for 341 yards and Matt Bramow had 16 catches for 151 yards, but the Axemen could not move the ball on the ground. South Eugene finished with minus-55 yards rushing, including minus-42 yards on five sacks.

The Axemen had five turnovers and 12 penalties for 96 yards.

"We didn't have many turnovers all year and then we had five tonight," Miller said. "Give Westview credit: They played hard and physical and we did not play our best game. We had a touchdown called back on a holding penalty and self-destructed at times. They put pressure on the quarterback and we did not run the ball well."

South Eugene led 7-0 when Logan Beal returned an interception 84 yards for a touchdown less than five minutes into the game.

Westview tied the score on a 20-yard touchdown pass from Cody Kempt to Payton Brooks on the last play of the first quarter. Pat Carlson kicked a 19-yard field goal to give Westview a 10-7 lead, and then Kempt found Brooks for a 42-yard touchdown pass to put the Wildcats ahead 17-7 at halftime.

South Eugene attempted an on-side kick to open the second half and the Axemen recovered the ball at the Westview 45-yard line.

McLennan threw a 31-yard touchdown pass to Daniel Hurwit on that drive, but a holding penalty nullified the play.

The Axemen eventually drove to the 3-yard line before Palone stepped in front of a receiver and went the other way for a touchdown.

Fong scored a two-yard TD run in the third quarter and added a 10-yard scoring run in the fourth period.

"Westview was well-rounded and had a few guys hurt, but they still came out and probably knew if they could get by us they might get those guys back," Bramow said.

Bramow and Hurwit each had a touchdown catch in the fourth quarter for the Axemen, who finished the season 8-2.


Westview's Dallin Larimer (top) and Paul Nishizaki stop South Eugene's Sammy Soto during the Wildcats' first-round state playoff victory. Wayne Eastburn / The Register-Guard South Eugene's Daniel Hurwit stays down after Westview broke up a pass intended for him.
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Title Annotation:Sports; Despite the loss of two top players, Westview rolls to a 38-20 victory over South Eugene
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Nov 13, 2004
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