Sports Zone, Springfield

Millers stay undefeated, blank South Eugene

SPRINGFIELD – The Springfield Millers football team used a heavy dose of running and stout defense to blank South Eugene on Friday night. Springfield won the game 35-0 behind a 21-point second quarter and moved to 4-0 for the first time since 2015. 

“It’s a work in progress. We’re still not a finished product by any means … but I love the fire in the second quarter. We had fire and we were ready to play,” said Frank Geske, Springfield head coach. “The defense played extremely well all night, special teams were solid, and the offensive run game was there…. Just pleased with the effort overall.”

Not only did Springfield’s defense hold South Eugene to 0 points, the Millers gave up 0 total yards of offense in the game, forced six three-and-outs, and didn’t allow a first down until the final possession of the third quarter.

“It’s a really good defense. In my career, the good defenses usually give up about three and a half points a game. And those are my real, real good teams. And this team has a shot to be there like that,” Geske said. “We can stop the run. We’re decent against the pass. And they got a real shot to be shining. We just need to click a little bit more against the passing game than what we’re doing.”

Dresden Reith (14) sacks South Eugene quarterback Dylan Stevens.

Meanwhile, Springfield’s offense continued to do what it’s done best all year: run the ball. After a first drive where the Millers drove the ball down the field only to fumble at the one-yard line, their second drive was an 11-play, 60-yard drive that took over 6 minutes off the clock. Fullback Isaiah Navarrete punched it in from 5 yards out to give Springfield a 6-0 lead just before the end of the 1st quarter.

The Millers forced one of the six three-and-outs to get the ball back, and thus the big second quarter began. The flurry began with a 40-yard touchdown pass from Zack Sherman to Lukas Babbitt, then Clay Rhoades scored on a 3-yard run, and finally, Connor Dye scored on a 4-yard rush just before half to give Springfield a 28-0 lead.

Lukas Babbitt makes an over-the-should catch en route to the endzone in the second quarter of Springfield’s win.

A 20-yard touchdown run from Dye, who finished the game with 132 yards rushing, on Springfield’s second possession of the third quarter iced the game, and a running clock expedited Springfield’s 4-0 start.

“All in all, it’s a really good win. And it’s not last year’s South Eugene team,” Geske said. “(Edmund Rivera)’s done a great job. Getting the chance to watch them live, they play inspired, and they play their positions well. He’s coaching the heck out of that team.”

As the final horn sounded, a 4-0 record wasn’t the only official thing from the game. It also marked the beginning of rivalry week as Springfield hosts Thurston next Friday in an attempt to stop a seven-game skid in the crosstown matchup.

“They hammered Springfield last year. And I think that’s on everybody in our locker room’s mind. They want to go out and show out. Which is never a bad thing, that confidence,” Geske said, noting that Springfield is aware of Thurston’s talent in the skill positions. “They got a good football team. They played a little bit different pre-league schedule than what we did, so I don’t take anything away from them on that 0-2 start. We’ll be here next Friday and let it all hang out, that’s for sure.”

Springfield Top Performers: Connor Dye, 25 carries, 132 yards, 2 touchdowns; Zack Sherman, 5/9, 84 yards, 1 TD; Lukas Babbitt, 1 catch, 40 yards, TD; Isaiah Navarrete and Clay Rhoades, 1 rushing touchdown each.

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