Medford feasts on turnovers, disposes of Malden

Medford’s defense was hungry for the ball all game long at Hormel Stadium. By the time the game was over, they’d had themselves a Turkey Day feast.

The Mustangs forced six turnovers, four of them in the second half, and beat Malden 30-14 in the historic 136th meeting of the rival schools on a blustery Thursday morning in Medford.

The win snapped a seven-game losing streak in the rivalry for the Mustangs (6-4), who ended their season in style and posted their first winning record since the 1990s.

“It’s a surreal feeling,” said coach John Curley. “It’s been a long time coming.”

Stevens Exateur was the workhorse for the Mustangs, rushing 29 times for 138 yards and a score.

“I feel like I could have kept running,” Exateur grinned after the game. “I wanted it. I wanted it so bad.”

While Exateur’s tough running kept the Medford offense on schedule throughout the game, his impact on special teams was a difference-maker in a game that started slow but finished with an onslaught of points late in the second half.

After Malden (3-8) wideout Nathan Sullivan made a leaping 30-yard touchdown catch in double coverage to give the Golden Tornadoes a 7-6 lead with 2:21 left in the third quarter, Exateur lined up deep for the ensuing kickoff.

Exateur composed himself after a brief struggle to corral the ball and found a lane up the left sideline, going 87 yards to give the Mustangs a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

“You can’t describe him,” Curley said of his senior running back. “When he has the ball in his hands, you better buckle up. You better be ready to enjoy the ride.”

Medford’s swarming defense took over from there. They recovered a fumble and came up with two interceptions in the final quarter to shut down the Tornadoes, including a 24-yard pick-six from Justin Marino to seal the deal with 1:25 left in the game.

Defensive back Prince Exavier led the charge with several booming tackles, setting the tone in the dominant defensive effort.

“It was all 11 and everyone on this team,” Curley said. “When you see 11 guys battling out there, and they make mistakes and keep on battling, it’s awesome.”

Trailing 24-7 in the fourth, Malden wasn’t ready to go quietly, as freshman quarterback Ryan Bowdridge found tight end Earl Fevrier for a 65-yard touchdown up the seam to make it a two-score game with just under six minutes to play.

The Tornadoes got the ball back and made it all the way down to the Medford 36-yard line before Fevrier was stopped one yard short on a fourth down pass to the flat, and from there the Mustangs knew they were finally back in the win column on Thanksgiving Day.

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