If it was the momentum change in the last 10 minutes of the Hermiston football team’s season opener on Sept. 1 that lit a fire under the team, then Lewiston (ID) had no chance against the Bulldogs (1-1) on Friday at Kennison Field.
Hermiston welcomed the Bengals (1-2) for its first home game of the season and the Bulldogs had something to prove. After losing last year on Lewiston’s home field to cap off an 0-2 start, Hermiston was going to do everything in its power to not let that happen again and a 26-0 win proved that.
Thanks to a 307 total yard performance from junior quarterback Andrew James, two interceptions from senior Joey Gutierrez and two fumble recoveries in the first 5 minutes of play, the Bulldogs avenged last season’s loss with a shutout victory.
“It was good to feel the field again and we came out with a bang,” James said before quickly reflecting on what didn’t go the Bulldogs way.
“It got sloppy quick, a lot of penalties that we need to clean up, me over throwing balls,” James said. “We had a great game but there’s a lot of stuff we need to fix.”
That game was capped off with an average of 6.7-yards-per carry from the quarterback. James explosiveness out of the pocket was what kept the offense on the field as it faced critical third downs. He finished with 19 carries for 129 yards.
What James lacked in the passing game (12-for-27) he made up for with his feet, head coach David Faaeteete expressed after the game. Pair that with top-tier offensive performances from senior running backs Jonathan Hinkle and Peter Earl, and the Bulldogs dominated the game on the ground.
It all started with a fumble recovery 13 seconds into the game.
Hermiston was in the perfect position to put pressure on Lewiston with an early touchdown, and an 8-yard carry from James did just that.
Hinkle was the next to score. James’ 1-yard run on fourth down allowed Hermiston to maintain possession, and on the next play he found Hinkle to push their lead to 13-0.
Hinkle wasn’t finished.
He found the end zone once more to send the Bulldogs into the locker room with a 20-0 advantage over the Bengals at halftime. While James and Earl set up the scoring drive, it was an interception in the end zone that kept Lewiston scoreless and gave the ball back to Hermiston.
“Momentum swings are huge,” Faaeteete said. “It’s the game of football. It’s a game of runs.”
And the Bulldogs had one more big run left.
An interception by Gutierrez in what was a dull third quarter gave the momentum back to the Bulldogs and three plays later James completed a highlight-reel worthy slant route to Dayshawn Neal, who found the end zone for Hermiston’s final touchdown of the game.
Hinkle and Earl finished with a combined 24 carries for 190 yards to lead the team. Neal, Hermiston’s top receiver of the night, tallied 107 yards off eight receptions.
Next up, Hermiston will travel to Mountain View on Sept. 15 to start league play. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.
Contact Alexis at sports@HermistonHerald.com. Follow her on Twitter @almansanarez.